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Lavender infused Coconut milk pudding

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(An attempt to improvise authentic Srilankan dish Watalappam)

Srilankan cuisine has some very unique dishes which are authentic to that country and is not found in many other cuisines. One such dessert is ‘watalappam’. This dessert combines the flavors of traditional south-asian spices such as cardamom and nutmeg with western dessert staple eggs to present this pudding. With just 3 main ingredients – jaggery, eggs and coconut milk – this dessert can be put together very quickly and is very satisfying. After savoring a few spoonfuls, you will realize how it is impossible to stop eating this dessert!

Traditionally this dessert is made with Palm jaggery which is unique to Srilanka and is called ‘kithul jaggery’. When I chanced upon ‘watalappam’ recipe, I was quite surprised that a very traditional dessert can be made with just 3 key ingredients and wanted to try it out, so I asked our lovely Srilankan friend about ‘kithul jaggery’. Before we knew it, he dropped off all possible varieties of ‘kithul’ for us to try out. We are truly blessed to have such sweet souls in our life. Thank you Fr 🙂

So I got about making ‘watalappam’ with ‘kithul’ jaggery and it was indeed out of the world. But ‘kithul jaggery’ is not easily available in stores. So for the benefit of other friends to experience this aromatic dessert, I decided to try it out with Maple syrup. I also attempted to replace cardamom and nutmeg with lavender. Why lavender ? I have a soft corner for lavender both the flavor and the color ! Recently I enhanced my herb garden with a lavender plant and wanted to use it in desserts. Somehow ‘watalappam’ seemed to be the perfect vehicle and indeed the results were outstanding.

The traditional dessert’s flavors are bold – cardamom and nutmeg.

The modified dessert’s flavor is very mild and subtle lavender notes.

If traditional jaggery or kithul is used, soak the pieces in 1/3 cup of warm water and make it into a paste. The traditional Srilankan way is to steam the dessert in small pots, but here it is baked in an oven in small ramekins inside a water bath. By this slow cooking process the pudding gets set in layers and gets a velvety texture. The traditional recipe with jaggery is less watery and more solid so sets in 30-45 mins. When replaced with Maple syrup, add about 20 mins more to the baking time.

So here I present 2 recipes – 1 traditional vattalapam with earthy spices cardamom and nutmeg and 2nd modified recipe with lavender.

Lavender infused Coconut milk pudding recipe


Ingredients – Traditional Recipe –
Kithul Jaggery – 1 cup pieces
Coconut milk – 2 cups
Eggs full – 2
Yolks – 2
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Nutmeg scrapped – ½ tsp

Ingredients – Modified recipe –
Maple syrup – ¾ cup
Coconut milk – 2 cups
Eggs full – 2
Yolks – 2
Vanilla extract – ¼ tsp
Fresh lavender stalks – 5

Procedure – Traditional Recipe –
1. Dissolve the jaggery in 1/3 cup of warm water, there can be small pieces
2. Add eggs and yolk to maple syrup and mix lightly taking care the mixture does not become frothy
3. Slowly add in the coconut milk, spices and combine well
4. Fill up the ramekins to ¾ and place on a deep tray with water
5. Bake at 320 degrees for 30-45 mins checking for doneness after 30 mins

Procedure – Modified Recipe –
1. Break apart the lavender leaves and stalks and put it in the maple syrup and warm for 30 seconds and let it steep the flavor for 30 mins
2. Strain out the lavender and layer it on the bottom of ramekins
3. Add eggs and yolk to maple syrup and mix lightly taking care the mixture does not become frothy
4. Slowly add in the coconut milk, vanilla extract and combine well
5. Fill up the ramekins to ¾ and place on a deep tray with water
6. Bake at 320 degrees for 45 mins checking for doneness after 30 mins
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