Monday, May 10, 2010

Pudding, Indian Style

Last week, I messed around with instant pudding, and since I once again had a slightly crazed week, I decided to take it easy on myself and make the other more or less instant dessert we had in the pantry: Brown & Polson custard. My husband has often spoken reverently of the custard his mother would make him every day using this mix; I suspect it's a fixture in many Indian and Indian expatriate homes, and I've long been curious about it.

Mmm, just like Amma used to make!

As background, B&P has been considered the go-to corn flour (corn starch, basically) since at least 1879, when this ad appeared. You can find it in most Indian groceries and international food stores; mine's been in my pantry since I moved in with my husband two and a half years ago.

My best guess is that his mother bought it during one of her intending to make it for him, but never did -- the package was sealed. Additionally, the nutrition facts sticker on the back was so stubbornly adhered to the box I had to peel it back in layers to get at the directions:
My favorite line: "Let it cool and your delicious custard is ready."

My first challenge was converting 500 ml to cups; I am most definitely a word girl first and a math girl last, and since I was making a childhood favorite of my husband's, I didn't want to take any chances. After using my phone to go online and triumphantly finding the answer (2 cups!) I noticed that my measuring cup lists ml on one side. Good to know for future tussles with metric conversions.

The powder itself is extremely fine and velvety, pale yellow with orange flecks in it, and smells like artificial vanilla, but only if you get up close. The ingredients are corn flour, flavoring, and coloring agents (reassuringly, the box says they are "allowable" coloring agents). It mixed into the milk easily, with no lumps whatsoever, and turned it an appealing shade of saffron. 

Before long I had a lava-hot batch of viscous, vanilla-scented golden yellow goodness cooling on the counter. An hour later I spooned some into a dish and gave it to my husband, who took care of in about a minute flat. He actually drank most of it, as this is "free-flowing" custard -- slightly thicker than creme anglaise. I asked him if it was comparable to what his mom used to make. In between gulps, he said it was.

Deliciousness: If you like the center of custard-filled donuts and wish it were sweeter and not so thick, you will love this custard. Compared to last week's effort, this tastes much richer and thicker -- but I also used 2% milk this time.

Difficulty: I'm starting to think I should do away with this category.

Do-Over: Most definitely; it's easy, tasty, and makes my husband happy. I might try to make it thicker next time, and/or use a bit less sugar.


2 T. custard powder
2 cups milk, divided
3 heaping T. sugar

1. Get ye to an Indian grocery and pick up a box of Brown & Polson custard powder (vanilla flavour).
2. Mix the powder with 1/4 of the milk and set aside.
3. In a saucepan, heat remaining milk with sugar, almost to the boil. Add the powder mixture, lower the heat to prevent boiling, and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Cool before eating.

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