Here’s a national food holiday quandary for you: Indian Pudding is neither Indian, nor is it actually pudding! To call Indian pudding “pudding” is to use the broad, British definition of the word, instead of something Bill Cosby would try to sell you in the United States. Indian pudding is a form of hasty pudding, made from cornmeal, milk, and molasses, making for a syrupy sweet bowl of cornmeal mush. Other ingredients like spices, butter, and raisins are added to the mix, and everything is baked on a low heat for several hours. It’s a thicker consistency than dairy pudding, and while the molasses makes it sweet, the corn gives it a more savory feel than anything we Yanks consider pudding. Indian pudding was given its “Indian” name when it was invented in New England during colonial times, as its base, cornmeal, was closely associated with Native Americans and the land. The pudding may have a misnomer on two accounts, but it’s still awful tasty!
Indian pudding is mostly an obscure regional dish, found in New England if found at all, so you won’t be finding many restaurants that will be doing any Indian pudding specials for this national food holiday. But “few” certainly isn’t “none”! Try out the Elephant and Castle in Greenwich Village, a classic, comfy restaurant that’s designed to make you feel like you’re already in a New England hotel tavern for your meal. Take your attention away from the overwhelming elephant kitsch and try out their Indian pudding, one of the few places that prepares and serves it traditionally, with molasses (and not maple syrup or sugar). You’ll certainly feel at home with a big bowl of thick, steamy Indian pudding at this restuarant 🙂
Elephant & Castle
68 Greenwich Ave (between 7th Ave & 11th St)
“A strangely shaped room and a wide-ranging menu, but everything, from the hamburgers to the Indian pudding, is good.”–The New York Times
“The first time I heard of Indian pudding was at the quaint New York restaurant, Elephant & Castle. I had no idea what it was, but they pretty much had me at “pudding”. They happened to be out that day and the waitress tried to convince me that it wasn’t that exciting, but for some reason I never got over it.”–The Christmas Club
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Desserts. When I feel like ice cream, I go for their Coffee Cantata: a coffee and raspberry and chocolate-sauced sundae. More often than not, however, we go for the Boston Indian Pudding. For some reason they manage to make something out of Little House of the Prairie–by which I mean cornmeal and molasses—utterly delectable. It’s right up there in my list of top 5 comfort puddings.”–Jessica N.
“Indian pudding. had this with my mom. we both grew up eating my grandpa’s from-scratch Indian pudding and hoped we would enjoy E&C’s, we did =)”–Fiona B.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!