Posted on November 22, 2017

Sri Lankan Dinner Series: Watalappan Dessert Recipe

Food/ Recipes/ Sri Lanka

Inspired From Travels To: Sri Lanka

Desserts like steamed caramel custard can be found across the globe. Watalappan is Sri Lanka’s version (it is believed to have Malay origins though). It’s a rich steamed egg custard made with jaggery, coconut milk, cardamom and topped with some cashew nuts to add texture. Check out other recipes exclusively for Voyageur Chic by Chef Anthony at The Runcible Spoon here.

Sri Lankan Dinner Series: Watalappan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Inspired from travels to: Sri Lanka
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
  • 6 eggs
  • 250gms palm jaggery (cane sugar)- this can be replaced with any other type available
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 70 gms brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 50gms chopped cashew nuts
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • ½ cup water
  1. Preheat the oven at 120 C.
  2. Pour water into a pot and add jaggery on low heat.
  3. Once the jaggery has completely melted, remove from theat and allow it to cool.
  4. Beat the eggs and gradually add the melted jaggery and coconut to it.
  5. Add and mix the cardamom powder, beans from the vanilla pod and brown sugar.
  6. Pour the mixture in a baking tray and place this baking tray in another tray filled with water.
  7. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 50-minutes.
  8. You will know it’s done when it’s wobbly in the centre.
  9. Let it cool. It can also be refrigerated.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped cashew nuts and serve with vanilla ice-cream. This dessert can be served hot or cold.



Recipe Courtesy: Chef Anthony D’Costa
Image Courtesy: Serious Eats

Bon Appetit!

Feel free to ask me any questions about the recipe or method and post pictures of how your watalappan turned out in the comments below. Also, please use the hashtag #VCrecipes or tag @VoyageurChic on Instagram when you make a recipe from this site for a chance to be featured.

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  • Reply Agustina Moran March 27, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    I never planned to write a post on Watalappan. When my friend Didi asked whether I could contribute an article related to food culture for her emagazine I opted to write about this classic Sri Lankan dessert. A dessert that represents Sri Lanka and it s diversity. Being under Portuguese, Dutch and English rule, it s strategic locations that made it a crucial pit stop in trade routes and it s diverse ethnic and multicultural society all contributed to the unique and diverse cuisine of Sri Lanka. Watalappan, this humble cardamom spiced coconut custard is an excellent example of it.

  • Reply Nadeesha March 27, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Should we put both water and mixture trays into the oven?

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