Jamaicans love their puddings. Some Jamaican puddings such as bread and butter pudding were inspired by a colonial past, while others were a result of the availability of ingredients. Puddings in Jamaica are not the same as the gelatin-based puddings as eaten in other countries. Jamaican puddings are much heartier like a bread pudding consistency and a knife is best in slicing the pudding. Jamaica has different types of puddings and one of the most popular puddings in Jamaica is the sweet potato pudding. Sweet potato in Jamaica is often a different variety than the sweet potato (or yam) used in US dishes. Additionally, the term yam sometimes used to refer to sweet potato in the US, is a starchy staple produce in Jamaica and is available in different varieties such as yellow yam and soft yam. In some Jamaican households, cooks add grated yellow yam to the pudding mixture for added texture as well as for a binding agent.
Traditionally, Jamaican home cooks grated sweet potato to make their puddings. Additionally, coconut milk, which was a main ingredient in the pudding, also meant grating the dried coconut and extracting the milk, through a series of adding water and squeezing out the resulting coconut milk. Many Jamaicans remember the reference to sweet potato pudding as ‘hell a top, hell a bottom, hallelujah inna di middle.’ By tradition, the pudding was baked over a coal stove by placing a type of dutch oven (know as dutchie in Jamaica) with a flat cover over a grill on the coal filled stove. The top of the cover of the dutch pot was normally filled with hot coals, hence the pudding baked from both top and bottom simultaneously. However, with the advent of ovens, food processors, blenders and canned coconut milk, home cooks now have a much easier job in making their puddings.
In Jamaica, sweet potato pudding is on many restaurant dessert menus or is easily available at local bakeries at eateries. Overseas, it might not be as easy to buy a slice of sweet potato pudding, but it is quite easy to follow a recipe and make a classic Jamaican pudding. Many cities in the US, UK and Canada have Jamaican or West Indian grocery stores that stock the ingredients needed to make a traditional Jamaican pudding. So, if you feel the hankering to try a taste of Jamaica, go out, get the ingredients, and begin baking.
Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding
1 1/2 pounds grated sweet potato
½ lb grated yellow yam (omit yam if not available and use ½ lb more sweet potato)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar (or use equal amount of Splenda/Stevia)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (you can omit the cornmeal and add 1/4 cup more flour)
4 cups canned coconut milk (reconstitute coconut milk powder if needed)
2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
2 teaspoon mixed spice
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt (adjust as needed)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon brandy or white rum (optional)
- Peel, wash and chop potato into small cubes and using blender, blend on “grate” option until potato is almost smooth. Alternatively, you can grate the potato
- To get the coconut milk, you can grate the coconut, add water, and squeeze out the coconut milk that is formed. Alternatively, you can use canned or reconstituted coconut milk
- Then once the ground work is done, mix all the dry ingredients, and then add coconut milk, vanilla, liquor and grated potato and mix well
- Mix in raisins and pour into greased pan and dot with bits of the butter
- Bake at 375 degrees F for about an hour until set and mixture lifts starts to shrink away from the side of the pan.
- Cut into slices and enjoy