Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Pujing mai is a Mauritian street food. My mom remembers the vendor stationed outside the government hospital in Port Louis. After hours spent in the hospital, patients, the families and friends of patients, as well as hospital staff could pop out to the stand for a sweet pick-me-up. The coconut flakes sprinkled on top remind me of snowflakes. Be sure to bring these yummy squares to your holiday parties!
Pujing mai is a perfect dessert to make ahead of time because it requires time to set in the refrigerator. I would make this the night before and cut it into squares right before serving.
A note on the coconut: I prefer unsweetened desiccated coconut because it means I can control the sweetness. Most desiccated coconut is sold with added sugar so try and find the unsweetened version if possible. If not, be sure to taste for sweetness when making the cornmeal mixture.
•vanilla: pod or extract
Place one cup of cornmeal in a bowl with enough water to cover. Stir gently. Let the cornmeal rest in the bowl for a few moments to let the husks float to the top. Then strain out all the water, leaving the cleaned cornmeal in the bowl. Pour the contents into a deep pot.
Take a whole vanilla pod and slice it down the center. Using the knife, scrape out the seeds from the inside of both halves. Add the vanilla seeds to the pot with the cornmeal. Add 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon butter, 2 cups of milk, 1/4 cup of raisins (optional!), and 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly till the mixture has the consistency of porridge.
Butter a 9 x 13 inch tray. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the tray and spread evenly. Sprinkle some desiccated coconut evenly on top of the pudding and press the coconut down very lightly into place.
Let the pudding cool to room temperature. Then cover it with foil and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or until it is fully set. Just before serving, cut into 2 x 2 inch squares. Do not stack the squares because they may stick together. Serve with tea.