Sri Lankan Watalappan is a delicious dessert that is like a creamy coconut custard. It is topped with cashew nuts. What makes this dessert so special is the use of kithul jaggery. This special jaggery comes from the fishtail palm in Sri Lanka. This brown like sugar has an amazing caramel like taste that is floral, woody, smoky and even savory. It is no surprise that this is beloved all throughout Sri Lanka. You could probably substitute brown sugar and molasses, but if you can get the jaggery, I highly recommend it.
Ultimately the dish is cooked by steam which can be done on the stove top, Instant pot or in the oven. I made mine in the Instant pot, and they came out perfect.
Did you know that Sri Lanka is one of the best safari destinations outside of Africa? They have an abundance of wildlife squeezed into 26 national parks. The Elephant is the national animal and are abundant on the island. Back in 2004 a terrible tsunami hit the island killing 30,000 people and displacing nearly 1.5 million. Just before the tsunami hit, the elephants ran for the hills.
If you would like to learn more about this beautiful Island nation be sure to check out “Our Journey to Sri Lanka”. There you will get authentic Sri Lankan recipes like pol sambal , prawn curry, and much more.
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Sri Lankan Watalappan (Creamy Coconut Custard)
- 5 large eggs
- 250 grams kithul jaggery
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
- Pinch salt
- Roasted cashews For garnish
- Shave the jaggery using a sharp knife, peeler or grate.
- Heat a pan to medium heat, add the grated jaggery or sugar along with 2 Tbsp of water. Cook until dissolved.
- Take the pan off heat and let it cool.
- Whisk the coconut milk into the sugar syrup.
- Whisk the eggs, with a pinch of salt and cardamom powder in a separate bowl.
- Add the coconut milk mixture to the eggs and whisk until just combined. Do not over whisk
- Strain the mixture through a sieve and discard any solids.
- Pour into 6 x 1/2 cup ramekins. Take care not to over fill the ramekins as the watalappan will rise slightly during the cooking process.
Stove top steaming:
- Place the ramekins in a large pot and fill the pot with water so that half of the dish is submerged in water. Cover and seal the lid. Steam for 30 minutes for the ramekins.
- Place the steaming insert in Instant Pot and add 2 cups of water. Place the ramekins on the insert. Close the lid and put the vent in sealing position. Steam for 15 minutes. Once done, use a mitt to release the pressure by turning the vent. Take out the ramekins and let it cool.
In the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the ramekins in a large dish and fill it half way with hot water. Cover the ramekins loosely with a foil.
- Place the dish in the oven.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. You want the custard to be set.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool.
- You can serve the watalappan as it is, or chill for a few hours.
- Garnish with roasted cashews when serving.