The sweet layers
Chef Sachin Joshi of Vivanta by Taj, Blue Diamond, Pune, tells us about the much loved but tricky Goan dessert
Think Bebinca, and you may instantly want to indulge. But this dessert is hard to make or find. The Goan dessert is one of the most tedious dishes to prepare with the least ingredients. With Portuguese origins, the Bebinca was quickly adopted by the Goans, thanks to its amazing taste.
Also referred to as the Queen of Goan desserts, the Bebinca is thought of as the only distinctive Goan dessert. The other sweets prepared here are similar to desserts prepared in other parts of the country, to an extent. The Doldol, for instance is similar to the Indian Halwa.
A type of pudding, the typical Bebinca is made of seven layers, sometimes differing with the person cooking it, and going up to 16. It is not found so easily in restaurants or sweet shops. One dear dessert, this one!
“First things first, the Bebinca is not an easy dish to prepare. It takes a lot of patience and has an acquired taste. Not everyone loves it. You need to develop a taste for it,” says Sachin Joshi, executive chef, Vivanta by Taj, Blue Diamond, Pune, even as he wonders how anyone can not like it.
The nutmeg and fresh coconut milk flavour are its distinctive features, he says. The one thing that Joshi points to is that preparing this dessert cannot be taught beyond a point. “It is something you learn with time, as you make it a number of times,” he says, adding that the baking time is what goes wrong most often. “It gets burnt very easily and can remain raw at times since you are cooking it layer by layer,” he warns.
Some trace the origins of Bebinca to a nun in old Goa named Bibiona. Her first version is believed to have been crafted with seven layers to represent the seven hills of Lisbon and old Goa. The dessert travelled the world in the years that followed.
Considering Bebinca is made with very few ingredients, it is not at all possible to make it by replacing any of those, Joshi says.
Speaking of the nutrient contents of the dessert, he says that it is loaded with calories, and is traditionally had with vanilla ice-cream or “tastes amazing just on its own.”
n Sugar 225 gm
n Fat (ghee) 1/2 cup (unsalted)
n Maida 180 gm
n Egg yolks 6, medium sized
n Coconut milk 250 ml (unsweetened)
n Nutmeg powder 1 tsp
n Cardamom powder 1 tsp
n Vanilla essence 2 tsp
n Heat oven to 180C before baking.
n Grease baking pan/ mould. Use ghee to grease.
n Mix coconut milk and sugar, till sugar dissolves.
n Add egg yolks one by one and beat till mixed evenly.
n Add flour and room temperature fat to make batter. Add vanilla essence.
n Make sure there are no lumps in the batter.
n Put 20 per cent of the batter in the mould and bake for 20-25 min.
n Remove from oven, brush some fat, sprinkle both powders and put some more batter and bake.
n Continue this process till the batter is over.
n After the last layer is baked, allow the Bebinca to cool.
n Unmould and serve warm with vanilla ice-cream.
n Make sure oven is not very hot.
n Baking layer by layer is a slow process. Have patience. Do not increase the oven temperature.
n Use unsweetened coconut milk or else the Bebinca will be extremely sweet.