If today’s food holiday doesn’t sound at all native to you Americans, don’t be hasty: it’s actually a Colonial classic that dates back to the 17th century. November 13 is National Indian Pudding Day!
This holiday popped up earlier in the year, but it shared the date with National Orange Blossom Day, and this cocktail made with gin, vermouth, and orange juice sounded more appealing (and considerably easier to make), so we opted for that at the time. The drink actually didn’t impress us all that much, and then John – our East Coast Food Correspondent, as I dubbed him early on in our challenge, left the following comment.
Maybe after this year…. or even next year. And you can just eat what you want again, and not everyday is an elaborate food adventure, you should really try making Indian Pudding. It’s really good! Worth it down the road.
Needless to say, that intrigued us. I did not realize, at the time, that there would be another National Indian Pudding Day, so I’m kinda glad we had a second shot at this holiday – even if making it is an arduous process.
Indian pudding is a variation on British hasty pudding, a pudding or porridge of grains cooked in boiling milk or water; instead of wheat, it is made with cornmeal, which was indigenous to Native Americans (and its name, Indian meal, gave rise to the name Indian pudding). Colonialists added a sweetener such as molasses or maple syrup, spices (typically cinnamon and ginger), and other ingredients like butter, eggs, raisins, and nuts for flavor and texture. It was then baked in an oven for several hours, until the consistency was more custardy than porridge-like. It became a popular dessert during the cold New England winters, and was traditionally associated with Thanksgiving meals during the late 19th century. When commercial puddings hit the market in the 1900s, few home cooks bothered anymore with the laborious process of creating Indian pudding from scratch, and the dish basically disappeared from dinner tables.
There was no escaping the fact that this would be a time-consuming dessert to prepare, but we were ready for the challenge, and followed this recipe. The end result? Pretty interesting. The texture of the custard was grainy, but the flavors were delicious, and matched well with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. We both liked it, but agreed that we probably wouldn’t go to the trouble of making one again. No doubt, if it weren’t for the food challenge, this is one dish we would never have tried!
- Indian Pudding (oswaldatlarge.blogspot.com)
- It’s National Indian Pudding Day! Here’s Why You Should Celebrate (wnyc.org)
- Indian Pudding, or What’s in a Name? (historysjustdesserts.com)
- Autumn Indian Pudding (pammieramone.wordpress.com)