Bebinca: Indian Sweet Potato Pudding/Cake

The recipe, by Mayukh Sen, was published in the NY Times Cooking, in a piece he wrote about chef Nik Sharma. “The lightly sweet pudding cake is an ideal fall dessert — a far less stressful alternative to a more labored pie,” Sen writes.

The mild taste of this unusual sweet is certainly a wonderful complement to the spicy Indian dishes; for my version I love to add crystalized ginger to give it a slight kick.



Mayukh Sen notes that Mr. Sharma riffs on a traditional dessert from the Indian state of Goa, using a base of coconut milk, eggs and sweet potatoes that are roasted and then puréed, perfumed with nutmeg. “…the addition of maple syrup is a distinctly American touch. (Mr. Sharma likes to make this for Thanksgiving.) Be sure to leave time for the bebinca to cool and set — at least 6 hours in the refrigerator, but preferably overnight,” Sen writes.



Yield: 8 servings



2 to 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds (750 gram)


5 tablespoons light olive oil or sunflower oil, plus more for the pan


6 large eggs


1 cup/200 grams grated jaggery or muscovado sugar


¼ cup/60 milliliters maple syrup


1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


1 teaspoon ground turmeric


¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


¼ -1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger


1(13.5-ounce/400-milliliter) can full-fat coconut milk


1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour


Crystalized ginger, sunflower seeds or pistachios for decorating (optional)  



Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the sweet potatoes to remove any dirt, pat them dry with paper towels and poke several holes in them with a fork. Put the potatoes on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast until completely tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool completely before handling. Peel the sweet potatoes, discard the skins, and purée the flesh in a food processor. Measure out 1 ⅔ cups/400 grams and set aside, saving the rest for another purpose. (The sweet potatoes may be roasted 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.) 


Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (180 C). Line the bottom of a 9-inch round or square baking pan with 2-inch sides with parchment paper and grease lightly with oil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.


In a large bowl, whisk together the cooled sweet potato purée, olive oil, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg, turmeric, minced crystalized ginger and salt until well mixed. Add the coconut milk and flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth, with no visible streaks of flour.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan and put the pan, still on the baking sheet, in the oven. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. The pudding should be firm to the touch in the center and light golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Wrap the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate to set for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.


Once the bebinca has set, run a sharp knife around the sides of the pan, flip the pan onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and tap gently to release. Peel the parchment off the top. Invert onto a serving dish, and peel off the second sheet of parchment paper. Decorate with crystalized ginger, pumpkin seeds or pistachios, if you like.  


To serve, use a sharp serrated knife to cut the chilled bebinca into wedges. Store the leftover bebinca, wrapped in plastic wrap, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.






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