Recipe: Che Ba Mau - Vietnamese Three Colour Bean Desert

This sweet desert is quite popular and you can order it in most Vietnamese restaurants as a desert or a refreshment. There are a number of elements in the dish that give it a number of textures: the nutty taste from the mung-bean and the red kidney beans, the light and refresh taste from the jelly, sweeten by the sugary syrup and complemented by the creamy taste of the coconut milk. This desert is served cold in shaved ice. It looks beautiful and tastes yummy.

Che Ba Mau


1/2 cup split, hulled mung beans, soaked overnight

Pandan Jelly Layer
- 1 tbsp agar agar powder
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 cups water
- 3 drops pandan flavouring

Sugar Syrup
- 1/2 sugar
- 1/2 cup water

Sweet Coconut Cream
- 1 can of coconut cream (alternatively, you can refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk, then take the thick cream)
- 2 tbsp sugar (you can add more if you like)

Other Layers
- 1 can of red kidney beans, (try to find low sodium), rinsed very well and drained
- 2 cups shaved ice


1. Soak the split, hulled mung beans (they’re yellow) in about 4 cups of water overnight. Alternatively, you can just soak them for about 1 hour in warm water before you start making this desert, it’s better when soaked overnight though. Rinse and drain the next day.

2. Using a steamer, arrange the mung beans on one of the perforated steam layers and steam over medium heat for about 20 or until they’re very soft. If you prefer the soft, mung bean mash type texture, you could cook them in a pot in about 1 1/2 cups water until they’re soft. You could then mash with a potato masher or hand blender until you get that really thick texture (adding water as desired)

Pandan Jelly Layer

3. In a small pot over medium heat, combine agar agar powder, sugar, water and stir well until the agar has dissolved (the water will look clear). Stir in the pandan flavouring and then pour into a glass container (you can use one of those glass sandwich ones, I ended up using a glass pie pan). Let cool and set completely in the fridge for about 2 hours.

4. Once those are set, cut into jelly strips (about 1.5 inch long and maybe 1/4 thick). Set aside.

Sugar Syrup

5. In a small pot (or alternatively the microwave), heat sugar and water until sugar is completely dissolved (water will look clear). Set aside to cool

Sweet Coconut Cream

6. Combine the coconut cream and sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

To Assemble

7. In a tall glass, add 2-3 tbsp of crushed or shaved ice, 2 heaped tbsp of the kidney beans, a layer of the pandan jelly, more shaved ice, and 3 tbsp each of the sugar syrup and sweetened cocnut cream.

Travelling Table