Banana pudding is a dessert with a rich history, and many variations of the recipe have been developed over time. Banana pudding may be best known in its Southern US version, which typically includes vanilla wafers and whipped cream, but the recipe we’re providing here is based on the Cambodian preparation method — one popular in my village and, indeed, throughout the Indochinese peninsula. The pandan leaf and coconut milk in this recipe gives our banana pudding a distinctly tropical, Southeast Asian flavor and sets it apart from traditional Southern US banana pudding.
The banana pudding in our recipe is much easier to make than its Southern American counterpart — all you need is some bananas, coconut milk, tapioca pearls, salt, sugar, pandan leaf, and about 20 minutes of your time. The preparation steps are as simple as chopping bananas and boiling them along with all the other ingredients in a pot. The result, despite the simplicity of preparation, is a deeply aromatic, creamy, and somewhat healthy dessert you can enjoy hot or cold and easily store in your fridge or freezer.
Below is the full recipe for our banana pudding, along with helpful images and a video.
- 1 pot
- 4 Bananas ripe
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¾ cup Sugar White, cane, or palm sugar
- 1 leaf Pandan 1 teaspoon of pandan extract or 1 tablespoon of pandan powder is an alternative
- 1 cup Coconut milk 1⅔ cups / 13½ oz / 400 ml
- ½ cup Tapioca pearls
- Soak the tapioca pearls for 10 minutes.
- Chop the bananas into roughly 1/2-inch pieces.
- Heat coconut milk in a pot over medium heat.
- Add a pandan leaf to the pot.
- Add salt to the pot and stir.
- Add sugar to the pot and stir.
- Add the chopped bananas to the mix and stir.
- Drain the tapioca pearls, then add them to the pot and stir.
- Continue to stir the mix as you cook it over medium heat for 5 more minutes.
- Allow the pudding to cool a bit before serving. Alternatively, chill it in the fridge and serve cold.
Where did banana pudding originate?
Banana pudding as it’s largely known today originated in the United States, although it was likely not conceived in the US South. The first mention of a banana pudding recipe was found in the New York Times in the 1870s, with another recipe originating in New England shortly after — clues that point to a more northerly origin. These original banana pudding recipes were based on the traditional English trifle, with banana slices complementing layers of custard, and sponge cake.
That said, the banana pudding that’s commonly known today across much of the US isn’t the only banana pudding recipe under the sun. Coconut milk-based banana pudding versions hailing from Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam are just as popular among hundreds of millions of Southeast Asians. These desserts are not well-known in North America outside the Southeast Asian diaspora, and that’s the injustice we’re trying to rectify here at Thida’s Kitchen by publishing our Cambodian banana pudding recipe. Our pudding is made with ingredients common in Cambodian cuisine, but ones that are still widely available in US, Canadian, and European supermarkets.
How to serve banana pudding?
Serve our banana pudding hot from the stove or cold from the fridge — it really works great either way. Served cold, this creamy, coconutty banana pudding makes for a refreshing dessert on a hot day, and this is how it’s usually eaten in Cambodia. In fact, most people out in the steamy Cambodian countryside will have this banana pudding with chunks of ice, as few households have a fridge. However, this pudding is equally palatable when served hot. We make this dessert often during the cold winter months here in Canada when the tropical aromas and the heat are soothing and comforting.
How to store banana pudding?
Store banana pudding in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and prevent it from spoiling. The ingredients in the pudding, such as bananas and coconut milk, spoil quickly if left at room temperature for too long, so it’s important to refrigerate the pudding as soon as possible after it has been made. It’s important to keep the pudding away from foods that have strong odors in the refrigerator, as it can absorb these odors. You’re able to store banana pudding in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, depending on the freshness of the ingredients. Freeze the dessert if you plan on storing it longer than 3-4 days.
Can you freeze banana pudding?
Yes, you can freeze a banana pudding. Freezing affects the texture and appearance of the pudding, but you’re able to minimize these changes with the right freezing and thawing technique. The right technique for freezing a banana pudding is to cool it completely in the refrigerator before transferring it to an airtight container and placing it in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve the pudding, remove it from the freezer and transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Do not thaw the pudding at room temperature or in the microwave, as doing so causes it to become watery. Give the pudding a stir once it’s thawed to help redistribute any liquid that may have separated during the freezing process.
Note that freezing affects the texture of the tapioca pearls in the pudding, so they may become slightly softer or mushier after freezing and thawing. However, the flavor and quality of the pudding should remain intact.
Is banana pudding good for you?
Banana pudding is good for you in moderation, since the dessert has both healthful and harmful ingredients. Below is an overview of the health effects the different banana pudding ingredients have.
- Bananas: Bananas are a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Bananas additionally contain dietary fiber, which helps promote digestive health and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.
- Coconut milk: Coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of saturated fat. MCTs have some health benefits, such as improving brain function and reducing inflammation. However, coconut milk is high in calories and saturated fat, which means that it should be consumed in moderation.
- Tapioca pearls: Tapioca pearls are made from cassava root and are a source of carbohydrates. They are low in fat and protein but do not provide many other nutrients.
- Pandan leaf: Pandan leaf is not a significant source of nutrients but is considered to have some health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and improving digestion.
The health risks of a banana pudding that comprises the ingredients listed above are primarily related to high sugar content. Sugar is a source of empty calories and contributes to weight gain and other health problems if consumed in excess. Additionally, consuming too much sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Is banana pudding good for high blood pressure?
No, banana pudding is not good for high blood pressure. The ingredients in the banana pudding, such as bananas, coconut milk, tapioca pearls, pandan leaf, salt, and sugar, do not have a direct impact on blood pressure. However, consuming too much sugar and salt contributes to high blood pressure over time.
Sugar contributes to high blood pressure by increasing insulin resistance, which may lead to the constriction of blood vessels and an increase in blood pressure. Consuming too much salt additionally causes the body to retain water, which in turn increases blood volume and leads to an increase in blood pressure