Egyptian Pumpkin-Milk Pudding is a dish that hails from Egypt and exists in different variations.
This recipe credit goes to Hanna, my parents loveliest Egyptian neighbor who is a seasoned cook in her own right.
I left Egypt over twelve years ago, nonetheless, I vividly and fondly remember the taste of Hanna’s Pumpkin-Milk Pudding dish that I experienced at an exceptional occasion.
Two nights after my wedding, before my husband and I took off for our honeymoon, my parents hosted a typical kabab dinner that included us (the new weds) and my husband’s family.
When it was time to serve the dessert, our thoughtful neighbor, Hanna, knocked on the door and walked in carrying a warm glass dish teaming with fall colors and aromas. Instantly all the desserts that were on the table paled next to Hanna’s Pumpkin-Milk pudding dish.
Fast forward twelve years to Thanksgiving 2020, this iconic Egyptian dish made an appearance for the first time on my holiday table.
Poured with love in dishes, our Thanksgiving table has been year after year the epitome of our story as an Egyptian American immigrant family.
Our holiday menu is usually a mix of American staples, Egyptian inspired dishes, and other delicacies that we picked from our life overseas.
This year, I allowed myself to digress from the strict dessert tradition and swapped in Egyptian Pumpkin-Milk pudding dessert for American pumpkin pie.
Typically, this Egyptian pumpkin dish is made with a layer of pumpkin chunks, cooked down until soft in a little water and granulated sugar until the pumpkin chunks soften.
The pumpkin layer get a generous sprinkle of nuts (raisins and walnuts) before it is topped with a layer of sweet white sauce (sweet béchamel) which is basically milk, sugar, and flour.
Although I relied for the most part on Hanna’s dish instructions, I played with the flavors a bit to suit our Americanized palates that naturally savor pumpkin when enlivened with fall spices.
Instead of water alone, I cooked the pumpkin chunks in water mixed with a splash of orange juice. To spike the flavors, I added the zest of one orange and spoonful of redolent, warm pumpkin spice.
Given my pledge to healthy cooking, I used only a 1/4 cup of brown sugar to barely sweeten the pumpkin instead of 1/2 cup of white sugar.
While the pumpkin was softening on a low heat, I scalded the milk and infused it with a stick of cinnamon and two whole allspice berries. I let the spices impart their flavors for twenty minutes.
When the milk was subtly infused and ready, I started to sweeten it with sugar and thicken it by adding corn flour diluted in 1/4 cup of milk.
The corn flour lends the pudding layer a fluffy, airy texture that offsets the density of the pumpkin layer. And that is why I prefer the milk pudding over the sweet béchamel sauce in this dish.
When both the milk pudding and pumpkin came to room temperate, I assembled the dish.
This dish is a make ahead one, so you can cook the two layers, keep them in the fridge and then assemble them when you are ready to bake the dish.
First, I added the pumpkin layer, sprinkled it with nuts, and added the milk pudding. For a million dollar tan, I added an egg wash mixed with a drizzle of vanilla and a spoonful of granulated sugar to the surface of the milk pudding.
I popped the dish in a preheated oven at 350ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pumpkin juices started to bubble.
Today, I have the pleasure of sharing my rendition of this iconic dish, because it was strongly approved by my picky family and five foodie guests that honored my holiday table this year.
Can’t thank Hanna enough for sharing her recipe.
I can’t wait to hear about your own rendition of that dish. If you have already made it or tried this dish before, share your memories with me in the comments.
Like and share and I will be forever grateful.
For more iconic recipes from my Egyptian kitchen made easy, follow my IG account @cheznermine.
Serves 8-10 people
The Pumpkin Layer
- 1 kg pumpkin, cubed, free of seeds and fibers.
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil.
Milk Pudding Layer
- 4 cups milk
- One stick cinnamon
- 2 whole all spice berries
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- 1 /2 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 5 tablespoons corn flour diluted in 1/4 cups of milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon granulated brown sugar
- Shredded coconut and toasted nuts for your choice to decorate the dish
- Cook the pumpkin. Add the pumpkin, spices, water, orange juice, orange zest, butter/coconut oil, and sugar in heavy bottom pan over medium heat and let the pumpkin cook for 20-30 minute until it softens. Stop cooking when the pumpkin chunks become fork tender. (See notes).
- Infuse the milk. Bring the milk to a boil and add an infuser bag with the spice inside. Turn off the heat and let the spices impart their flavors for at least 20 minutes.
- Make the milk pudding. Heat the milk and add the sugar. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla and the diluted corn flour in milk and keep stirring until the milk thickens. Turn off the heat and let the pudding come to room temperature.
- Prepare the egg wash. In a bowl, whip an egg with a splash of vanilla and the granulated sugar.
- Assemble the dish. In a baking glass dish, first add the pumpkin layer, sprinkle with nuts of your choice and then top it with the milk pudding layer. Distribute the egg wash over the surface of the milk pudding.
- Bake the dish. In a preheated oven at 350ºF, bake the dish for 20 to 30 minutes or until the juices start to bubble. Broil the dish for no more than 5 minutes to tan the surface or use a kitchen torch.
- Decorate the dish. In any pattern you like, garnish the dish with coconut and/or nuts of your choice.
- Some types of pumpkin are watery, so if the pumpkin you use releases a lot of water, add some of the excess liquid to the milk before making the pudding layer.
- After making the dish, I recommend leaving the Pumpkin-Milk Pudding dish under the broiler for an additional five minutes for a prefect gold hued surface or simply use a kitchen torch, if you have one.
- Find the vegan version of this recipe here.