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Vijaya Selvaraju

Made with a cane sugar called jaggery, coconut milk and more, Vattalappam is India's equivalent of creme caramel.



  • 3 3/4 cups grated dark jaggery

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 1/2 cups coconut milk

  • 10 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • Roasted cashews and sliced almonds to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a saucepan, add jaggery and water. Heat on medium and allow to gently melt until there are no lumps. Remove from heat and whisk in coconut milk. Set aside to slightly cool.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs and cardamom until well combined. Stream in cooled jaggery/coconut mixture, whisking constantly until well mixed.

  4. Place a heatproof, rectangular dish in a larger baking tray. Pour custard into heatproof dish and place in oven. Fill the sides of the larger baking tray with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the heatproof dish.

  5. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, until just set and slightly wobbly in the middle. Allow to completely cool then transfer to the fridge to chill.

  6. Remove from pan, cut square slices and garnish with nuts. Enjoy!





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- My grandma comes from a part of India that was once colonized by the French and as a result, a lot of the food from there has a great French influence. This, you guys, is vattalappam, and it's India's equivalent of the French creme caramel, and I'm gonna show you how to make it. This custard has a handful of ingredients, but packs so much flavor. I'm starting off with a little bit, well, it's not a little bit, it's a ton of jaggery, and jaggery is unrefined palm sugar. And when you taste it, it's really rich, kinda molasses-y, it's really good stuff. So, that goes in. We're gonna melt this down, you guys. Whoa. There we go. I'm gonna add a little bit of water, and then we're just gonna heat it up until it gets nice and melty and smooth. Vattalappam is a spiced custard. It comes from the south of India where I'm from, and also places like Sri Lanka, and it's just so, so tasty. It's creamy, it's slightly dense, and the addition of jaggery in this just puts it over the top. Alright, so you wanna make sure there are no lumps. There are a few still left, so just keep stirring, and this doesn't take too long to melt at all. Ooh, look at that. Perfectly smooth and glossy. I'm just gonna turn off the heat, and now I'm gonna add some coconut milk, and this is just gonna add so much richness and depth to this custard. And then, just gently stir in the jaggery. Alright, I'm gonna switch over to a whisk. That's perfect, I'm gonna let this cool, and in the meantime, I'm gonna whisk up my eggs. So, I have a ton of eggs here. You need a lot of eggs to make custard and the defining flavor of vattalappam is the addition of cardamom. And I love cardamom because it has this beautiful, floral aroma and flavor. There we go, give it a nice whisk. That's looking pretty good. You wanna just make sure that there are no lumps of cardamom, that it's nicely incorporated. My coconut and jaggery mixture is just cool enough, and the reason why I wanna cool it down is so that when I add it to the eggs, it doesn't scramble the eggs, because we want a really nice and smooth custard. So, I'm just gonna pour, woo, the entire lot in, and then just gently mix it together. And I love this recipe because I know so many people cannot consume dairy these days and so, you can have your flan and eat it, too, because it's made with coconut milk. Perfect, that's nice and well-incorporated. Alright, and now we're gonna pour this into a dish. So, I have a larger pot here with a dish on the inside, and all that that is, is a dish that's gonna be filled with a little bit of water so that the custard is insulated while it cooks, and that'll make for an evenly-textured, creamy custard. Oh, look at that. Looks so good. And now, I'm gonna pop it into the oven, and then while we're at the oven, I'm gonna fill this outer pan with a little bit of water so that it creates the steam that we need. So, I pulled this out of the oven, and then I let it completely cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge, but you can eat this at room temperature as well and it's gonna be just as delicious. Let's cut a square, shall we? Ooh, it's slicing nice. Nice and smooth. Ooh, girl. It is crazy custardy. Look at that color, it's kinda dark on top, kinda golden and flan-like in the middle, and here's where we get a little extra, you know? Some chopped, flaked almonds over the top, some cashews as well, and I've been waiting too long for this. Let me give it a taste. Oh, it breaks so beautifully. Okay. This custard literally just melts in your mouth. That jaggery, it's powerful, but refined, those molasses notes come through, and paired with the beautiful cardamom that's floral. This is India's version of the French creme caramel, and I think you're gonna love it.

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