Layers and Layers of Bebinca

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October 17, 2011 by ritadate

Ravish Arora
Goa was a place we visited often as kids, mainly for a pilgrimage to our family deity. It was not the typical beach holiday that Goa signifies now. We stayed at relatives’ homes, never swam on the beach, always ate vegetarian food for the many pujas we had come to perform, and we had never even heard of bebinca, My parents who both grew up a just a bit south of Goa in the coastal town of Kumta, had never heard of the famous Goan dessert either. Desserts made with eggs and that required an oven were not the norm in those days, they said.

Bebinca batter

 I first tried bebinca a few years ago on a holiday(finally a beach holiday to Goa) and was hooked. There was something about the texture of this dessert that was unusual – not as soft and creamy as custard, not as spongy as cake, the feel and delicate, not too sweet taste was entirely distinct – and this taste and texture was a perfect ending after eating a spicy prawn curry.

I always wondered how the multiple layers were formed, and once idly took a fork and broke apart all 16 layers – just for fun. 

Adding the Layers

Ravish Arora, a well known restaurateur, in Pune recently hosted a cooking demonstration for the annual Pune Unplugged week.This year the theme was Goan Food. Ravish and his team at Red Carpet Academy made quite an effort setting the mood with Goan music, costumes, refreshing coconut water and plenty of seafood.

Prawns Rechado, Fish Caldinho, Chicken Cafrael, Mushroom Xacuti and of course Bebinca were on the learning menu, and Ravish as usual, did a thorough job in teaching each dish.

The Final Product

Bebinca is not a difficult dish to make – there is only one basic batter. What is needed however, is patience. Each layer is set in the oven for 10-12 minutes. After the first layer is finished the baking dish is taken out of the oven and a heaping tablespoon of ghee is spread on top. Then one more layer of batter is added and put back in the oven to set. This process is carefully repeated a minimum of 7 times with the traditional bebincas having 16 layers. The baking dish should be taken out of the oven at the correct time, so plan to be busy cooking something else in the kitchen in the meanwhile. You would think that a couple of layers would have burnt by the end, but quite the contrary is true – the layers get properly caramelized and that is why there is a colour difference in each layer, the bottom layers being darker.

 Alas — after 7 layers the bebinca is ready. But not so fast – the dish has to rest and set for at least 12 hours before it is ready to be cut and served. Good things come to those who wait but lucky for us, Ravish had bebinca waiting for us to eat – I don’t think I could have waited another 12 hours!

Grated Coconut — 200 gms
Sugar — 400 gms
Egg Yolk — 10
Flour — 100 gms
Salt — 2gm
Nutmeg or Cardomom powder — 3 gms
Melted Ghee — 125 gms

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Extract 1 cup of thick coconut milk by grinding the coconut with one cup warm water. Grind the coconut again with 1 cup of water and extract 1 cup of thin coconut milk.
3. Dissolve the sugar in thin coconut milk in a pann over low heat. Keep aside to cool. Mix the egg yolks a littel at a time. Stir in thethin coconut milk. Add flour, salt, nutmeg/cardomom powder. Mix well until a smooth batter is formed. Strain.
4. Pour 3 tbs ghee into a round 7″ deep baking tin and then pour 1 cup batter over the ghee. Bak for 10 minutes til set and top is golden. Pour 1 tbsp ghee over the baked layer and then 3/4 cup batter. Bake ti again until top is gloden. Continue process till all the batter is used up. There should be 7 layers.
5. When cool turn the bebinca onto a platter. Leave aside for 12 hours before slicing.


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