Cendol is a Southeast Asian dessert/drink of worm-like pandan jellies, mixed with palm-sugar syrup and topped with sweetened coconut milk. In Vietnam, cendol is a popular street food known as Che Banh Lot.
Che Banh Lot literally translates to “Fallen Cake,” which refers to how the pandan worm-like jellies are made. The pandan batter “falls through” some kind of kitchen equipment with large holes to produce the round jellies with tapered ends, resembling little green worms (Yum!). Usually this kitchen equipment is a potato ricer, a large slotted spoon or a colander with large holes.
My equipment of choice to make Che Banh Lot is a potato ricer. The one I have was purchased in Vietnam. It has two interchangeable plates, and the one I’m using is the one with the largest holes, about the width of a chopstick. However, I found a very similar version on Amazon and I have linked it here.
Che Banh Lot can be served at room temperature or over crushed ice for a refreshing summer time treat. Sometimes the pandan worm jellies are served with sweetened mung bean paste and red Azuki beans. Together the colorful dessert is known as Che Ba Bau (3-color dessert).
The main ingredient for the pandan jelly is mung bean starch, which can be a bit tricky to find, even in an Asian supermarket. However, the mung bean starch is a must. I have tried making this dessert with just tapioca starch and rice flour. It wasn’t good and not recommended. The mung bean starch provides a unique flavor that goes beautifully with the palm sugar syrup and sweetened coconut milk.
To make this dessert, the pandan batter must have the right consistency. It must be thin enough to easily fall through a potato ricer but thick enough to maintain the round shape.
For the syrup, it’s best to use palm sugar. Palm sugar has great flavor and aroma with a beautiful honey color. If you can’t find palm sugar, substitute palm sugar with brown sugar for a similar taste.
Vietnamese Pandan Worm-Like Jelly Dessert (Che Banh Lot/Cendol)
- 1 cup mung bean starch
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon pandan extract
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar or 10 oz palm sugar
- Pinch salt
- Large bowl of ice water
- Vietnamese Sweetened Coconut Milk Sauce
- Potato ricer with large holes
- In a large saucepan, mix together mung bean starch, rice flour, sugar, water and pandan extract until dissolved (without heat). Cook on medium-high heat while whisking. When the starch starts cooking, the starch will feel heavy. Lower the heat and continue to whisk vigorously until the batter thickens into a translucent dark green paste.
- In batches, transfer paste into a potato ricer and gently press the handle down to extrude 2-3 inches of paste into a bowl of ice cold water.
- To make the sugar syrup, heat water, sugar and salt in a medium-size sauce pan over medium low heat. Simmer for a few minutes until dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool.
- Che Banh Lot can be served at room temperature or cold with crushed ice. To assemble, add jelly to a glass. Ladle in sugar syrup then top with coconut cream. Mix well and enjoy.