Semolina pudding

Since school dinners in the 90’s, semolina pudding has not featured in my life. I remember it being a kind of thick paste that tasted of cardboard, sometimes dyed pink or brown to convince us it was strawberry or chocolate flavour. For a long time I thought it was made of some kind of paper. When I was six it puzzled me why my mum used to tell me off for chewing bits of paper, when it was being served up as pudding at school.

These days there’s always a bag of semolina in my cupboard for making dosas, coating paneer, or putting a crust on a pizza. I consider it to be a savoury thing which belongs in a pudding as much as bacon or vinegar. However, part of what this blog is about is testing out the menus of times gone by. Even if I have encountered them before and I do not have good memories of them.

Semolina pudding is made by whisking hot milk and semolina flour together, then putting it back on the heat to thicken. Add butter, sugar, spice to flavour and egg yolks, then pour into a dish and bake. It started to thicken as soon as I put it back on the heat, and the texture was just as I remembered it. Somewhere between custard and glue. It didn’t look much better once I put the rest of the ingredients in, it just made it slightly runnier. The end result was not pretty, in the dish or in the bowl. Even with a spoonful of homemade marmalade to liven it up.

semolina pudding semolina in a bowl

The most important part of a pudding is the taste. And this was delicious. Rich, creamy, almost like a smooth rice pudding. It could take some spice, or honey, and there is so much scope for variations – ginger, cardamon, maybe even chilli. This was so quick and easy to make, 5 minutes on the hob, then half an hour in the oven (where it can merrily cook while you’re eating the main course).

How did I overlook this delight of a pudding for so many years?

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