• Watalappan (Steamed spice cake) (Asia Unplated with Diana Chan)Source: Asia Unplated with Diana Chan

Spices like cardamom, nutmeg and cloves bring an enchanting edge to this custardy coconut milk cake.






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (94 votes)


  • 250 g grated kithul jaggery
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • pinch of salt

To serve

  • coarsely roasted unsalted cashews and extra jaggery syrup (optional)


Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 2-4 hours


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Lightly grease a 23 cm square baking tray or dish with olive oil spray.

2. Combine the jaggery and 60 ml (¼ cup) water in a small saucepan and stir until it is fully melted with no lumps. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, then set aside and allow to cool.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks and spices and whisk gently. You don't want to create too many air bubbles. Whisk in the coconut milk until well combined, then whisk in the cooled jaggery syrup. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray through a sieve - this will ensure the mixture is smooth and any lumps or impurities have been removed. Cover the tray tightly with foil. Place the tray in a bigger dish and fill the dish with hot water to about three quarters of the way up the side to create a water bath. Bake for about 45 -60 minutes or until the custard is set, but still slightly wobbly in the middle.

4. Remove from the oven and let the custard cool in the water bath for about 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove from the water bath and cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours. It's best chilled overnight.

5. Slice into 8 slices and serve with some jaggery syrup if serving, and roasted cashew nuts sprinkled over the top. 


Diana Chan and guests explore the flavours of Asia from her Melbourne home in the second series of Asia Unplated.