Over the years I have had pretty much every type of Yom Kippur break-the-fast meal you can imagine–from roast beef to scrambled eggs. My conclusion: Choose a menu that is easy to make in advance and quick to get on the table; that is filling, yet easy on one’s stomach after a day of fasting, prayer and meditation. And don’t forget dessert.
Maybe it’s because I’m a dessert person, but I feel we can all use a bit of something sweet and soothing after a fast, and this Turkish coconut pudding offers just that. It’s parve and vegan, can be made ahead and is just lightly sweetened. It is a non-dairy version of a rice flour pudding that is popular in many Turkish and Near Eastern Jewish communities.
These smooth, comforting puddings make an ideal canvas for some flavor variations. You can customize the puddings with your own garnishing ideas, too. For example, you can sub out tangerine or orange slices for the pomegranate seeds and almond slivers for the pistachios or you can add a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce on top.
If making the recipe for a crowd (the recipe doubles well, but you’ll need to use a big pot), consider chilling the pudding in a large serving bowl and letting guests serve themselves, instead of making individual cups. The directions below are for making the pudding in advance, but it can also be served warm immediately after cooking.
Orange blossom water* (sometimes called orange flower water), one of the key ingredients, can be found in some supermarkets, specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets. Different brands have different intensities. To test the strength for this recipe, add half of the recommended amount, stir, taste and then decide how much more orange blossom you would like to add. The pudding should have a lightly floral, slightly citrus scent and taste.
I’ve demonstrated this pudding in several cooking classes and everyone enjoyed making and eating it. I am sure it will be on my menu for a future Jewish food workshop hosted by my Hadassah Oakland Ruach Chapter or Central Pacific Region.
TURKISH COCONUT PUDDING
Adapted from my cookbook, 52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen
Makes 6 servings
3 (13-1/2-ounce) cans coconut milk (do not use low-fat)
2/3 cup white rice flour or unflavored cream of rice cereal (not instant)
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsps orange blossom water*
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp toasted coconut chips or large, unsweetened shreds
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp shelled pistachio nuts
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Shake the coconut milk cans thoroughly, remove the lids and pour the milk into a large pitcher or jar. Use a spoon to scrape out any liquid or solids that remain in the cans. Stir or whisk well until the mixture is somewhat smooth (if necessary, place the pitcher in a bowl of hot tap water to speed the process). Break up any large chunks and mash them into the mixture. It is okay if the milk is still a bit lumpy.
In a large saucepan, combine the rice flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add 1 cup of coconut milk while stirring until a relatively smooth paste forms. Slowly, stir in the remaining coconut milk. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbling and has begun to thicken, nine to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, add the cardamom and cook, stirring often, until bubbling, thickened and there is no raw taste — about four to five minutes. Stir in the orange blossom water or rosewater (if using) and pour the mixture into serving dishes.
Garnish with coconut chips, pistachios and pomegranate seeds and serve immediately. Or you can press plastic wrap against the top of the pudding and serve later at room temperature or refrigerate and serve the pudding cold, garnished with coconut chips, pistachios and pomegranate seeds or dried apricot.
MAKE IT IN ADVANCE: The plastic-wrapped pudding dishes can be refrigerated for up to three days.
*If orange blossom water is not available, substitute 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. I also make this pudding with 2 tbsp. rose water instead of the orange blossom water and garnish with fresh or dried rose petals and/or fresh berries in addition to the coconut and pistachios. Separate the unflavored pudding into batches and try some with each.