Indian Pudding

My first encounter with Indian Pudding was over 20 years ago at Durgin Park, a landmark restaurant in Faneuil Hall, Boston, famous for its home-style Yankee cooking and, at the time, its cranky, octogenarian waitresses. Few desserts look so completely unappetizing yet taste so incredibly good. One bite of this lumpy, brown mush, with a dab of vanilla ice cream, and I was sold. Scraped every last bit from the bowl.

Why indian pudding isn’t more widely known I have no idea; it’s one of my favorite desserts of all time, and a traditional New England Thanksgiving classic. Indian pudding is a baked custard with milk, butter, molasses, eggs, spices, and cornmeal. The name is likely derived from the cornmeal, which was known as indian meal way back when. Here is a tried-and-true recipe for indian pudding adapted from An Olde Concord Christmas, a long out-of-print book from the Concord Museum.

Indian Pudding Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10
Yum

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Method

1 Scald the milk and butter in a large double boiler. Or heat the milk and butter for 5 or 6 minutes on high heat in the microwave, until it is boiling, then transfer it to a pot on the stove. Keep hot on medium heat.

2 Preheat oven to 250°F.

3 In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, and salt; stir in molasses. Thin the mixture with about 1/2 cup of scalded milk, a few tablespoons at a time, then gradually add the mixture back to the large pot of scalded milk. Cook, stirring until thickened.

4 Temper the eggs by slowly adding a half cup of the hot milk cornmeal mixture to the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture back in with the hot milk cornmeal mixture, stir to combine. Stir in the sugar and spices, until smooth. At this point, if the mixture is clumpy, you can run it through a blender to smooth it out. Stir in the raisins (optional). Pour into a 2 1/2 quart shallow casserole dish. Bake for 2 hours at 250°F.

5 Allow the pudding to cool about an hour to be at its best. It should be reheated to warm temperature if it has been chilled. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Indian Pudding

Showing 4 of 46 Comments

  • Jeanne

    Has anyone ever seen cans of Indian pudding? I used to buy it about 25 years ago….and we heated it a double boiler. Does anyone know where I might find them now?

  • Gail S.

    I have been seeking an old recipe from the Joslin Clinic Cookbook that was published in the 1970’s that listed an Indian or Hasty Pudding recipe calling for liquid dietetic sweetener, molasses, and powdered brown sugar. I’ve called the Joslin Clinic in Boston, asked various nutritionists and sought the old cookbook out, but can’t get a satisfactory recipe. I have attempted to get a similar flavor and have been unsuccessful. If anyone can give me the old Joslin Clinic recipe or guide me there that would be wonderful as the rest of my family is now diabetic even though I have been divorced from my Diabetic Hasty Pudding eating husband for years now. I want the recipe, not the husband.
    Thanks.

  • Cris

    Yummy! It’s called “Indian” Pudding due to the cornmeal, which the early settlers learned to grow and eat from the First Peoples. Steamed puddin was a staple for the Brits and they naturally just incorporated it as a local ingredient.

    But for fun you can believe it was named by a hungry guy who got lost, landed in Boston and thought he was in India eating Kheer with molasses :-)

  • Don

    It is called “Indian” pudding because the early settlers referred to the main ingredient as “Indian meal” – the meal used by the American Indians. Generally, any recipe using Indian meal as the main ingredient was called Indian… . Over time, the plant became known as corn, and the meal made from it as corn meal. The old recipes kept their original names; and even now, some corn meal packaging uses the word Indian on the label.
    Look’s Gourmet out of Maine makes a canned Indian Pudding under the lable Look’s Atlantic Premium. It is carried in the Big Y/World Class supermarket chain. Years ago, Howard Johnson’s sold a canned Indian Pudding in their New England restaurants, under their own lable.

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