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What Is Bebinca?

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  • Written By: Kathy Dowling
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2016
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Bebinca is a dessert originating from Goa, a city located south east of India. Rich in flavor, bebinca, also called bebinka or bibik, is a type of pudding traditionally made of up to 16 layers. It is baked using ingredients that are typically incorporated in Indian cooking, such as ghee and coconut milk, and is generally made to celebrate occasions, such as births and weddings. While it is a traditional Goan dessert, bebinca is also eaten in different countries.

The popular Goan dessert is typically made using ghee, coconut milk, and flour, as well as eggs, and sugar. Ghee is clarified butter, meaning that the fat from the butter is separated from the water and milk solids, which is then used in both sweet and savory dishes. Like ghee, coconut milk is also used in sweet and savory cuisine. Coconut milk is not the clear liquid found inside the coconut, known as coconut water, rather, it is derived from the white, solid part of the coconut.

While bebinca is not technically difficult to make, it does require a lot of patience. Traditionally, the pudding consists of 16 layers, all of which have to be baked individually. For people with less patience or time, bebinca can be made using less than 16 layers.

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There are many variations of ingredients used when making the pudding, however, the process in which it is made remains consistent. When all ingredients are added together, the cake mixture is layered into the baking pan in increments that cover the bottom of the pan. Only when each layer is golden brown can the next layer be added; the process continues until all 16 layers are complete. Once made, bebinca is traditionally garnished with shredded coconut, but can also include other garnishes, such as almonds. Traditionally, bebinca is cooked in a clay oven which is heated by hot coals placed on top.

Many different countries serve bebinca, including Mozambique, Portugal, and also the Philippines, where it is called bibingka. In the Philippines, bibingka is cooked slightly different compared to the traditional Goan version. Rice flour is used to replace wheat flour and, when baked, it is usually dressed with a sugar and butter topping. Bebingka is most commonly served in the Philippines during a period called Simbang Gabi, which is a religious celebration that lasts for nine days before Christmas.

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