Beach vacation feels like the most perfect activity to ward off the summer blues. The subcontinent is blessed with a plethora of magnificent beaches that could mesmerize you with its beauty. Among them, Goa is perhaps the first place that comes to anyone’s mind when they hear the term 'beach'. Goa is a small state on the southwestern coast of India which lies within the hinterland of Konkan region. This exotic place is home to beautiful beaches with lush flora and fauna. Apart from being the best place to rejuvenate during holidays, Goa also offers a gamut of toothsome savouries that one should surely try to fully enjoy their vacation. Every cuisine needs a dessert to complete itself. Similarly, Goan cuisine also has a nectarious dessert named ‘Bebinca’ which is known as the ‘Queen of Goan Desserts’.

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The Saga Of ‘Bebinca’

Goa was a Portuguese colony for almost 500 years, which heavily influenced the food culture and traditions of Goan natives. Fashion, art and architecture of Goa still carries a bit of Portuguese in it. It is generally believed that ‘bibik’, more commonly known as ‘bebinca’ was also a Portuguese-influenced dessert which was invented by the Portuguese nuns in the 17th century just like other confectioneries of the doces conventuais (Conventual sweets).

As per a section in the book of prominent historian Fatima da Silva Gracias, “Cozinha de Goa: History and Tradition of Goan Food", one of the nuns from the Santa Monica Convent was called Bebiana who invented a seven-layered pudding using leftover yolks to symbolise the seven hills of the old city of Goa and Lisbon. Then she sent this pudding to the priests, who were impressed by the flavours of the dessert but suggested her to increase the dessert’s size to accommodate at least a dozen layers. Now, in her honour this pudding is known as Bebinca which boasts from seven to as many as sixteen layers. This sweet delicacy is present at every blissful occasion from wedding, Christmas or any occasional feast. Bebinca will always have a delightful place in the Goan culture.

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How Bebinca is Prepared

What stands out in this sweet delight is the baking approach. This feature makes it unique from other decadent desserts. Unlike the conventional baking, bebinca is baked in a special earthenware oven called tizals. Further, it is not baked in the direct fire of the oven, but gets the heat from a few burning coconut husks which are kept over the lid. The ingredients involved in this dish is simple but provides wonderful layers of flavours while cutting through the cake. Bebinca is usually served with a heaping scoop of vanilla which later melts with the warmth and moistness of the cake as you take each bite of the sweet delicacy. It is baked using ingredients that are typically found in every kitchen like eggs, all-purpose flour (maida), coconut milk and sugar. The preparation of this multi-layered dessert is quite painstaking as you need to bake and lather each layer of batter 16 times! It's truly a labour of love and one needs to keep aside at least 4 to 12 hours in order to religiously follow the traditional recipe. But the result is worth it all.

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You should definitely try this gastronomic delight whenever you are in Goa.