Vattiliappam / Watalappam – Sri Lankan Coconut custard

Vattiliappam, also popularly known as Watalappam, is a coconut custard pudding that is made with equal portions of organic eggs, sugar and fresh coconut milk. Eid at my mother’s place would never be the same without a big slice of Vattiliappam after brunch.

For a long time, I was convinced that Vattiliappam was native to Kayalpatnam, the south Indian coastal town that once used to be a famous trading port. Until surprisingly, I found it on the menu of several Sri Lankan restaurants on a holiday. As it turns out, Sri Lankans share the same Vatilliappam-slaying tradition as the people of Kayalpatnam. It could be a coincidence but I think there’s a deeper culinary connection to it – since we share other delicacies like appams and coconut based curries with Sri Lanka. Marco Polo might have made clearer sense of it in his travel diaries dating back to 1250 AD, where he is said to have mentioned Kayalpatnam.  

The recipe is very straightforward – equal portions of eggs, coconut milk and sugar form the base of the pudding. Throw in a little jaggery and cardamom to bring it to life. The only thing to remember is that the quantities are measured by volume so a measuring jug will come in handy.  

Vattiliappam / Watalappam / Coconut Custard Pudding
Serves 7
A creamy and sweet pudding native to Kayalpatnam and Sri Lanka.
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Ingredients
  1. 5 large organic eggs
  2. 350 millilitres coconut milk
  3. 1 1/2 cups sugar (granulated or caster)
  4. 1 tablespoon jaggery (optional)
  5. a pinch of cardamom powder
  6. 1/4 cup sliced pistachios and almonds
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 165 C. Place a pan of water in the oven in the lowest rack.
  2. Break the eggs into a measuring bowl and mark the measurement. As I used large eggs, it came up to 350 ml.
  3. Transfer eggs to a deep bowl and whisk lightly until combined.
  4. Measure equal amounts of sugar as the eggs. Transfer to another bowl.
  5. Measure equal amounts of coconut milk as the coconut milk.
  6. Add the sugar to the coconut milk and stir well to dissolve.
  7. Add jaggery if available. Stir in cardamom powder.
  8. Add the coconut mixture to the eggs and whisk everything gently just until everything dissolves. Do not over beat.
  9. Pour into a greased tin.
  10. Sprinkle with sliced pistachios and almonds.
  11. Steam bake the pudding in the middle rack for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  12. Eat immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers and consume within 2 days.
Notes
  1. If the jaggery doesn't dissolve easily, heat with a little water until it turns into liquid.
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