Hi Everyone, This week begins a 4-part series featuring a few weekend favourites among Barbadians (Bajans). We start with Pudding, one half of a Saturday special – Pudding and Souse.
Bajan Pudding is nothing like Guyanese Black Pudding or Trini Blood Pudding or Dominica’s Boudin, which are all very savoury and made with pig or cow’s blood. Bajan Pudding, which is served with souse, is made of sweet potatoes. The texture when cooked mimics the soft, spiced tenderness that is associated with blood puddings.
Blood puddings came to the Caribbean through European influences; in some places it was the British while in others it was the French or Spanish. Did you know the Spanish version of black pudding also contains rice?
Over the years, Bajan Pudding has changed. The grated sweet potatoes used to be mixed and seasoned with pig’s blood, however, sometime during the 80s, people became health conscious and started making the pudding without the blood. Today, finding Bajan Pudding made with sweet potatoes and blood is extremely rare. In order to give the look of pudding made with blood (blood turns black when cooked), caramel, browning or burnt sugar is added to the sweet potato mix. Some people add a lot of the brown colouring to make the pudding really dark when cooked while others add just enough to lightly colour the pudding.
In keeping with making the Pudding healthy, most people simply steam the pudding mixture in a dish and serve it in scoops, however, there are some vendors that still use the runners/casings and stuff them with the pudding mixture. This gives the ‘real’ feel of sausage pudding and is quite a treat to eat when made this way.
One of the things I miss about Guyana is being able to have access to good quality black pudding. Given the shared history of the Caribbean, I looked forward to trying Bajan Pudding when I first moved here. When I bought my first container of Pudding and Souse, I was perplexed when I opened the lid. There was no sausage-like black pudding, instead, there were two scoops of some dark, smooth mixture. The souse also was a little different but that did not concern me. I am more a black pudding person. My eating companions informed me that it was sweet potato pudding. I took my first forkful and studied it as I ate. I would take 2 more forkfuls before making up my mind. I did not like Bajan Pudding. Granted, I ate the pudding with Guyana’s Black Pudding as my reference, but I was also open. I found the Pudding to be too sweet for my liking and I was not sure what I was supposed to be tasting – sweet, savoury, something in between? The texture was very pleasing, soft but not mushy. I pushed the pudding aside and set about eating the souse and pickled breadfruit. As I continued to eat, I picked up a piece of souse along with some of the pudding, when eaten together, in one bite or mouthful, the combination works! You get sweet, briny, delicious acidity, and heat from the pickle. While that first encounter with Bajan Pudding ultimately turned out to be a good one, I still wasn’t convinced that it was my thing.
Over the years I’ve had Pudding recommended by several friends but I’ve never really fallen in love with Bajan Pudding. What I find is that I prefer and do like it when the pudding is stuffed into casings/runners. Strange I know because it is the same mixture when steamed and scooped. Call me weird but I prefer my Bajan Pudding presented like sausage-like black pudding.
Each household makes Pudding to suit their own taste. The Pudding I made for this column was based on information I got from a friend, it was all about some of this, a little of that and not a lot of some things.
Have a go at the recipe and let me know what you think.
Next week: Pickled Breadfruit.
- Large pot with lid and flat steaming rack
- Heatproof dish with cover or aluminum foil
- 3 cups grated sweet potatoes
- 1/3 cup tap water
- 1/3 cup finely minced onion
- 1 tablespoon finely minced marjoram
- ½ tablespoon finely minced parsley
- ½ tablespoon finely minced broadleaf thyme
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon softened butter or oil
- 2 teaspoons browning
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- Add water to the pot, insert steamer and set aside.
- Mix together all the ingredients until well blended.
- Butter or oil a heatproof dish and pour the mixture into the bowl. Smooth the top. Cover the dish with its accompanying cover, if not, cover with foil. Transfer to pot and set on top of steamer, cover put and place on high heat.
4, Steam for 45 – 50 minutes or until a knife inserts smoothly and comes out clean (time begins when the pot comes to a boil).
- The taste of the pudding is an individual thing – some people like it sweet others more on the savoury side. Taste the mixture before steaming and adjust to suit your taste.
- The texture of the mixture before steaming should be the same as Conkies, wet, but not runny.
- If you cannot access marjoram (it gives the signature taste to Bajan Pudding), use Guyanese thyme instead and omit the broad leaf thyme.
- The seasonings must be really finely chopped because the Pudding is supposed to be smooth.
- Instead of browning I used 2 teaspoons of cassareep.
- Keep a kettle of hot water on standby in case you have to replenish the pot with water for steaming.