A Singaporean Uncle in

Chinese Pretzels recipe


Frankly speaking, I do not know how many readers will fancy this recipe.. A very old traditional snack called ma hua (麻花)or literally translated as hemp flower. I am unsure why it is called as such and I did not see any similarities between the snack and a flower.

It is a simple twisted Chinese bread dough that are deep fried. It is crispy and usually comes with or without sugar coating. Some translated it as Chinese twisted pretzel and again, I am unsure why it is called as such possibly because the ingredients are almost the same as pretzel.

I loved to munch these crispy to hard type of snack when I was kid. It has its own unique attractiveness, the more you munch, the more fragrant it is. In fact, it is not easy to find these snacks nowadays.

Since I saw a recipe in the internet, I thought it might be fun to try it out.. Instead of using normal plain flour, I have used self raising flour to enhance the fluffiness of the dough. Therefore, this version will not be as hard as the traditional version.


I have made a wrong decision to add some black sesame seeds to the sugar coating, though it blends well with the taste, but it does not look as beautiful as I wanted it to be..

As for the shape, I have purposely made it into this short twisted size resembling those commonly sold in Singapore and Malaysia.. Unlike the shape found in People’s Republic of China, it is much longer and thinner as compare those found here. However, the difference will just only one step in difference


Servings : About 8-10 ma hua

  • 240 grams of plain flour or self raising flour (depending on your desired texture)
  • 50 grams of water
  • 35 grams of castor sugar
  • 10 grams of cooking oil
  • 2 grams of salt
  • 1 egg

For the Sugar Coating (optional and not in the picture)

  • IMG_5330100 grams of castor sugar
  • 25 grams of water
  • 1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds (optional)


  • Put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and knead until it form a pliable dough. You can also knead by hand if preferred. Transfer the dough out to a lightly floured surface. Lightly knead and divide into 8 –10 equal pieces. Take a piece and roll the dough thin using your hands such that the dough is about 50-60 cm long.
  • Take one end of the dough and lightly seal the ends. Fixed one side of the dough in the table and twist it as fine as you like. You can stop here and your ma hua will have two braids. If preferred, seal the ends again and start twisting for another one more round, your ma hua will be much shorter and have four braids. In this illustration it is a four braids ma hua.
  • IMG_5317Heat up a pot of oil and deep fried the ma hua under LOW-MEDIUM heat until the exterior is golden brown. Set aside for later sugar coating.
  • Put the sugar and water in a pan and bring the sugar solution to boil. The sugar solution will gradually get thicker and when you use a tablespoon to a bit of solution out, if it turns whitish in the spoon, the sugar solution is ready for coating. Add the sesame seeds follow by the ma hua. Off the heat and stir until the ma hua are well coated. When cooled, the ma hua will have a whitish sugar coating. Cool completely before serving and store in an air tight container to preserve crispiness.


For those readers who have tasted this and liked this snack, chances are you are probably the same age group as mine.. Please do not tell me that the snack is hard to chew for your age now… Well, making the dough thinner and longer will make it less hard as compared to a big mass of dough. Do try this recipe and tell me if it is still as hard as the type that you used to eat! Ha-ha.

IMG_5334 IMG_5299 IMG_5303 IMG_5327

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