A few  weeks ago I was sitting around the kitchen table with my mum and aunties discussing all things life. It so happened that the topic of wattalappam came up. Now, a discussing in a Lankan kitchen is never complete without some heated discussion. The argument over eggs raged on for quite some time. Was 5 eggs per tin of coconut milk enough? Would it achieve the desired porous texture? Was 10 better?  Should the palm sugar be grated? Or heated in coconut milk till it melted? And the most controversial of all….to spice or not to spice? My brother-in-law wont touch anything with identifiable pieces. And how could I forget the great oven versus steam debate.

Wattalappam is one of my all time favourite Sri Lankan desserts, a delicious sweet and spicy custard of coconut milk and kithul/palm sugar. It’s really dependent on the quality of the palm sugar, and nowadays they dark brown rolls of palm sugar available at most Asian groceries will be perfect for the job. I love adding my favourite spices, cinnamon, cardoman, clove and a touch of nutmeg to lighting spice the custard.




  • 350g of dark palm sugar grated
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. group cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 2 cloves crushed
  • 2 cardoman pods crushed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt



Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

In a small saucepan add the coconut milk, palm sugar and spices. Heat gently until the sugar is just dissolved. Take off the heat and leave the mixture to cool and infuse Crack the 8 eggs into a medium bowl and whisk. Add the the cooled sugar mixture to the eggs mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla and stir.Strain the mixture into an ovenproof dish.

I find I get the best texture by baking this like I do my creme brulees. I place the baking dish in a tray of hot water and place both in the oven together. Bake for 30 minutes. Test by gently wobbling the pudding, it should be firm all the way across. If it’s still wobbly, leave for a little longer.  The pudding may look puffy when in the oven. Don’t worry it will settle right back down.


Cool and serve with a garnish of cashew nuts, if you wish.



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