Recipe Created by Nermine Mitry-Mansour
There aren’t two identical tables on Thanksgiving dinner in the US. Each household has its unique story that is displayed through a number of signature recipes.
Every immigrant who lands in the US carries dreams, skills and a deep-rooted food heritage.
While we strive to make our dreams come true in the US, we eventually evolve, and so does our culinary repertoire.
We revisit our nostalgic recipes from time to time and tweak them to suit our new lifestyle, local ingredients, and ever-changing palate. As a result, our rendition becomes practical, trendy, and more inclusive.
Given my nomadic life across five continents and nine cities, with no more than three years spent in one foreign land, my Egyptian-American recipes get a double twist, as I always get inspired by exotic local ingredients.
This year my family and I are celebrating our first Thanksgiving in Singapore. And it was a huge honor to team up with the U. S. Embassy in a video that features the tradition of Thanksgiving and to share my newest sweet addition to my Thanksgiving table: Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding.
Humbled by this honor, my first instinct was to create something that relates to my story – an Egyptian-American dish that has a Singaporean influence.
I chose coconut as the the hero ingredient of my newly-created pumpkin dish, as the first time I saw coconuts hanging from a tree, it was in Singapore, on a memorable walk in the picturesque Botanic Gardens.
While the original dish that inspired me is made with pumpkin, ghee, full-fat milk, and almonds, my vegan rendition is prepared with coconut oil, coconut milk infused with heady spices from the American South, and sprinkled with U.S. toasted pecans for a pleasant crunch.
To add some drama to the dish when it is served, I prepared an easy sauce made of Kaya jam, another Singaporean gem. It is a jam made out of coconut and eggs, which is a quintessential staple in the Little Red Dot.
Intentionally, I planned for this sweet dish to be as inclusive as possible. It is vegan, kosher, halal, and possibly a nut-free if the pecans are omitted. Why do I say this recipe is inclusive? Because it is an American dish with a multicultural flair that honors everyone.
Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding & Kaya Sauce
The Pumpkin Layer
- I kg pumpkin, seeded and cubed
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 medium orange, zested
- A pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts (optional)
The Coconut Pudding Layer
- 4 to 5 cups coconut cream
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 5 allspice berries
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (diluted in 1/4 cup of water)
- 1 cup Kaya jam (coconut jam)
- 1/2 cup water
- A splash, almost 2 teaspoons, bourbon (optional)
Cook the pumpkin. In a heavy bottom pan, add the cubed and seeded pumpkin, sugar, spices, coconut oil, orange zest, and water, and mix well. Cook on low-medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin cubes are fork-tender but still holding their shape. Set the pumpkin aside until the coconut pudding is ready.
- Infuse the coconut cream. Put the whole spices in an infuser bag or simply wrap a piece of cheesecloth around the spices and tie it with a kitchen string to form an infuser bag. Drop the infuser bag in the simmering coconut cream and turn off the heat. Let the spices impart their flavors for at least 30 minutes. Remove the infuser bag when you are satisfied with the intensity of spices notes.
- Make the coconut pudding. Add the sugar and diluted cornstarch to the infused coconut cream. On low heat, keep stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved and the pudding reaches the consistency of a white sauce — the pudding should cover the back of a spoon in a thick layer. Turn off the heat.
- Assemble the dish. In a rectangular or square heat resistant dish, first add the pumpkin layer and sprinkle the walnut evenly (optional). On top of the cooked pumpkin cubes, add the pudding layer. Even it out with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Don’t mix up the two layers.
- Bake the Dish. In a preheated oven at 375ºF, pop the pumpkin dish in for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is bubbling and the cream layer is set.
- Let the dish come to room temperature. Put in the fridge for a whole day or overnight.
- For decoration, dust it with some cinnamon powder and serve it with the Kaya sauce.
Kaya Jam Sauce
- Mix together 1 cup Kaya jam and 1/2 cup water.
- On low heat, stir the water and Kaya mix for 3-5 minutes, or until you reach a sauce consistency that is silky smooth and lump-free.
- Add a splash of bourbon. (This step is optional)
- Let it come to room temperature before serving.
- I strongly recommend using coconut cream in a box rather than a canned one. The difference in the freshness and taste is obvious.
- Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding is best served cold.