When Broke Portuguese Monks Sold Their Custard Tart Recipe
Image Credit: Cidade de Goa – IHCL SeleQtions

With Easter right around the corner, we cannot be more excited about the festive delicacies. Fresh hot cross buns, roast lamb, chocolate eggs are some of the traditional Easter delicacies that makes the Holiday worth waiting for? But did you know why Easter is celebrated. It is said that on the third day, following his crucifixion Jesus Christ resurrected, and this day of resurrection is celebrated as Easter. Easter traditions vary from region to region, but the fixation with desserts is something common across the world.  

On this special ocassion, Ajesh KA - Pastry Sous Chef, Cidade de Goa – IHCL SeleQtions shared his recipe of Pastéis de Nata or Portuguese Custard Tarts.  

The tarts can be found in Goa as well. As most of you would know Goa was once a Portuguese colony and the remnants of its colonial past can be seen in Goa’s cuisine too. Goa loves its tarts, and this delicate Portuguese Egg Custard Tart traces back to the 13th century. It is said that they were originally made by the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon. Similar to most Portuguese-Goan desserts this dessert also uses a lot of egg yolks. Apparently, back in medieval times, egg whites were used as natural starch for clothes, so all the egg yolks that would remain were used up in making desserts. After the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the monks at the Jerónimos Monastery, were not in the best financial shape. The monastry had to close down, but their recipe of pasties de nata, was sold to a sugar refinery. A few years down the line, the refinery owners opened Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, a bakery, which is still operating in Lisbon, where you can still find this custard tart, prepared the traditional way.  

The Portuguese Custard Tart is also one of the desserts that is slowly losing relevance in Goa, among all other Portuguese-Goan desserts like Bebinca or Serradura.  

“If you have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Portugal, just the thought of Pastéis de Nata is enough to make you feel nostalgic. This decadent dessert is famously recognized for its distinctive caramelized, Crème Brûlée-like topping. At Cidade de Goa, we have been baking this delicious goodness over the past decade. A childhood favourite of mine, I recommend relishing them slightly warmed for the custard to be perfectly smooth and creamy along with a cup of coffee.”, says chef Ajesh, while recommending the dessert for Easter.  


Pastry Cream:

  • Milk – 500 ml
  • Egg Yolk – 7 nos
  • Castor Sugar – 90 gms
  • Corn Flour – 75 gms
  • Butter – 50 gms
  • Vanilla Essence – 5 ml

 Puff Pastry:

  • Refined Flour – 500 gms
  • Butter – 500 gms
  • Salt – 5 gms

Method of Preparation

Pastry Cream:

  1. Boil milk and add castor sugar.
  2. Mix egg yolk and cornflour in a bowl, add in boiling milk and mix well.
  3. Add butter and vanilla essence.

Puff Pastry:

  1. Knead flour and salt together adding 250 ml cold water.
  2. Laminate the dough with butter and set to freeze.
  3. Sheet the dough to make the tart.
  4. Bake the tart until fully done.

Pastéis de Nata:  

  1. Pipe pastry cream in the tart.
  2. Add cinnamon sugar on the top and torch until slightly caramelised.