Apart from the blue seas and pretty skies, there’s something else Goa is well known for — its ghee-lathered sweetmeat Bebinca.

Seven layers of pure heaven, often served with vanilla ice cream, the sweet is a Portuguese-influenced dessert consumed on special occasions.

Also known as the ‘Queen of Goan Desserts’, the dish’s origin story is shrouded in mystery.

Some legends claim that much like other confectionaries of the convent (doces conventuais in Portuguese), Bebinca was also invented by Portuguese nuns in the 17th century.

However, what stands out and makes this dish special is its zero-waste baking approach.

Contrary to most baked foods that use egg whites, here the yolks take the limelight.

Using egg whites to starch clothes was a common practice back then, and the nuns wanted to find a way to utilise the excess of leftover egg yolks.

Fatima da Silva Gracias, a prominent historian’s book, Cozinha de Goa: History and Tradition of Goan Food, states that one of these nuns from Santa Monica Convent was called Bebiana.

She invented a seven-layer pudding using leftover yolks to symbolise the seven hills of the old city of Goa and Lisbon. This was sent to the priest residing at the Convent of St Augustine and became a huge hit.

They even requested to increase the layers and the seven were not enough to savour the dish. Hence, today, this pudding is known as Bebinca in her honour and boasts from 7 to as many as 16 layers.

The delicacy is a result of primarily four ingredients — eggs, all-purpose flour (maida), coconut milk, and sugar. To add to the flavour, lots of ghee and a hint of nutmeg are added.

The dish has two separate batters (one dark and light), You start by pouring a thin layer of either batter, lather melted ghee on top, bake, and then repeat, alternating between the dark and light layers.

In simple words, for a 16-layer Bebinca, you would need to painstakingly layer, lather and bake each layer of batter 16 times! This could take somewhere between 4 to 12 hours to bake.