This Vietnamese Mung Bean Sweet Soup with Aloe Vera Gel (Che Dau Xanh Nha Dam) is a delicious and healthy chilled dessert for summer. It features wholesome mung bean and refreshing aloe vera gel.
The most popular form of dessert in Vietnam is probably sweet soup, which is called “che”. This Southern Mung Bean Sweet Soup with Aloe Vera Gel is currently my favorite summer dessert. It might not be the prettiest dessert but I love how healthy and refreshing it is.
The Vietnamese name of this dish is “che dau xanh nha dam“. Mung bean means “dau xanh” and aloe vera means “nha dam“. This mung bean dessert is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.
Served cold, this Vietnamese sweet soup is cooling with lots of healthy nutrients. The two main ingredients of the dish are whole mung bean and aloe vera gel. We will also need some sugar to sweeten the soup. I like to use rock sugar but regular sugar is fine too.
Whole mung bean is green in color and often sold in dried form at Asian grocery stores. You can also find it on Amazon. Compared to split mung bean, which is yellow in color, whole mung bean still has the skin on so it is very rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. In addition, the skin also adds more texture to this dessert soup.
While mung bean gives the soup a wholesome taste, aloe vera gel makes it refreshing and fun to eat with its smooth and crunchy texture.
Is Aloe Vera Gel Safe to Eat?
You might have heard of the soothing benefits of aloe vera in skincare products. In Vietnam, aloe vera gel is also used in desserts. Aloe vera yogurt, which is my childhood favorite, is one example. If you have never had any aloe vera gel desserts, I hope you will give this recipe a try.
Aloe vera leaf is comprised of the green outer skin, the latex and the gel. The latex is a yellow sap/resin in the layer below the skin and contains powerful laxative compounds, which should not be consumed due to some side effects. In contrast, the nutrient-rich gel in the center is safe to eat.
So in short, if you prepare the gel properly by getting rid of the skin and the latex, no need to worry about potential serious side effects.
How to Prepare Aloe Vera Gel
The first step is to remove the outer skin. I use a sharp knife to cut off the spiky edges alongside and slice off the skin. You can try using a vegetable peeler like in this guide on wikihow.
For this aloe vera recipe, we will need to slice the gel into strips. Sprinkle a little bit of salt, and then rinse them directly under cold running water. Repeat one or two more times until the gel strips are no longer slimy to completely get rid of the latex. The aloe vera gel is now ready to use.
How to Cook Vietnamese Mung Bean Sweet Soup with Aloe Vera Gel
It is easy and straight forward to cook che dau xanh nha dam once you have prepared the aloe vera gel.
First, simmer whole mung beans until they are soft and the skin is split open. I recommend soaking the whole mung beans for 4-6 hours to speed up the cooking process. If you skip it, you may have to simmer the beans for more than half an hour.
After that, add aloe vera gel and cook for 3-4 more minutes until you see a lot of tiny bubbles inside the gel. Then immediately transfer the sweet soup to a container and let it cool a bit before refrigerating it.
I think it tastes fine right off the stove but the chilled soup tastes much better because you can clearly feel how clean and refreshing the aloe vera gel is when it is cold. Detailed instructions are in the recipe card below as usual.
Besides whole mung beans, split mung beans are also used in Vietnamese cuisine in both sweet and savory dishes such as:
- Mung Bean Pudding
- Glutinous Rice Balls with Mung Beans in Ginger Syrup (Che troi nuoc)
- Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice (Banh Chung)
I’d love to hear what you think about this dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Mung Bean Sweet Soup with Aloe Vera Gel
- 3.5 oz whole mung beans (about 1/2 cup)
- 12 oz aloe vera gel (about 1 1/2 cup sliced)
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons rock sugar (or to taste)
- Wash whole mung beans and soak in a lot of water with a pinch of salt for 4-6 hours.
- After soaking, rinse mung beans. Add them to a pot with 4 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are tender and the skin is split open, about 25 minutes (depending on soaking time and your stove). Skim off any foams during simmering.
- While simmering the beans, prepare the aloe vera. Cut off the spiky top and about an inch of the bottom part. Divide the aloe vera leaf into 2 1/2 – 3 inch long sections.
- Cut off the spiky edges alongside each section and slice off the green outer skin.
- Cut the inner gel into thin strips and place them in a colander. If the inner gel is quite thick, you can slice in half horizontally before cutting into strips. Be careful while cutting since it can be a little slippery.
- Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the aloe vera gel strips. Toss, rinse and wash thoroughly under cold running water. Repeat one or two more times until the aloe vera gel is no longer slimy to completely get rid of the yellow sap (latex).
- Once the mung beans are tender, add sugar then add aloe vera gel. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 3-4 more minutes until you see tiny bubbles all over inside the gel. Taste and add more sugar to taste if needed.
- Transfer to a clean container to cool. Refrigerate and serve chilled.