The story of mung bean pudding from Tứ Yên Village

April 23, 2024 - 10:24
'Chè kho' was an ideal ration for the troops because it could be easily stored for 10-15 days without spoiling.

Thanh Hà

People in Tứ Yên Village of Vĩnh Phúc Province often recount the legend that in the sixth century they supplied King Lý Nam Đế (503-548) and his troops with mung bean pudding (chè kho) from the village.

Chè kho was an ideal ration for the troops because it could be easily stored for 10-15 days without spoiling.

Mung bean pudding (chè kho) is a specialty of Tứ Yên that was used as dried food for King Lý Nam Đế 's troops. — Photo

Later, a temple was built which hosts a four-day festival every year to worship the King. On festival days, chè kho is always among the main dishes to remember the King and his troops.

After the ceremonies, village elders and officials enjoy chè kho as a good desert. They also bring it home to their own altars to worship their ancestors, before allowing their children to enjoy it, recalled Tứ Yên resident Phạm Thị Bảng.

Chè kho is best enjoyed with a cup of lotus tea. — Photo

Ingredients to make the popular dish include mung bean, molasses and sesame. Bảng said in the past chè kho was often prepared for Tết (Lunar New Year) festival. Today it is usually available in the markets on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar month, as people put it on their altars.

“Before Tết, my mother would ask me to go to the market to buy half kilo of green beans, newly harvested because they are so fragrant and tender compared with others,” said Bảng.

Chè kho is more fragrant when being topped with roasted sesame. — Photo

The mung beans are soaked in water for two to three hours, cleaned, steamed for half an hour, then well ground and put it in a cast iron pot and well mixed with sugar water. This is on medium to low heat to prevent it burning, said Bảng.

This traditional method of preparation results in a tastier chè kho compared with that made in an electric cooker.

When finished, the chè kho is scooped into small dish and a banana leaf is used to compress it and form it into a circle. “This stage is very important because compressing chè kho helps it last for one to two weeks without losing its fragrance,” Bảng said.

In the past, the country was very poor and there were no sweets available in the market, so chè kho was considered very special dish to share with honoured guests, she added.

The main ingredient to make delicious mung bean pudding is newly harvested mung beans. — Photo

Chè kho should be the golden colour of finely ground mung bean, with a brown topping of roasted sesame. It is intensely sweet, Bảng said.

Beyond Tứ Yến Village, chè kho was also an indispensable dish for people in the capital Hà Nội to worship their ancestors and invite guests during Tết Festival.

“The dish is unforgettable when eaten with a cup of lotus tea,” Hanoian Lê Thị Quý said, adding that apart from its taste, chè kho is considered to bring good luck and health. — VNS