Portugal occupied the present-day Indian state of Goa from 1510 until 1961, but elements of its culinary influence never left. Bebinca, also called “the queen of Goan desserts,” is a seven- to sixteen-layer pudding cake made from incrementally-baked sheets. Bakers combine lots of egg yolks (there’s that Portuguese influence) with maida, an Indian cake flour, as well as coconut milk, sugar, and a bit of ghee. Some opt to add nutmeg or slivered almonds, but the ingredient list remains simple.
Then, one must set aside four hours for the complicated part of the recipe: Layer batter, melt ghee on top, bake, and repeat. Until the designated number of layers is achieved, patience becomes an additional essential ingredient. Because bebinca is particularly popular on Christmas and during special occasions, many families rely on bakeries that specialize in the art. Dedicated cooks who endeavor to prepare the sweet at home often prepare bebinca in an “OTG oven” (a redundantly-named oven, toaster, and griller), or on a grill, which imparts a light smokiness to the treat. And if 16 layers seems a little lacking, there’s always the 30-layer, Dutch-Indonesian lapis legit.
Where to Try It
Vivenda KafeNear Lemon Tree Beach Resort Opp. Magnum Resort, Fort Aguada Rd., Candolim, 403515, India
Diners adore the bebinca and tea served at this small, slightly hidden eatery.