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Making Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding the Old-Fashion Way

Sweet Potato Pudding has long been a favourite Jamaican snack. Is it because the main ingredients of sweet potato and coconut milk are so delicious and nourishing, or is it the sprinkling of raisins which surprise every bite? Maybe it’s the sweet taste with strong flavours of other exotic spices? Or maybe it’s because this heavy pastry can make the belly feel full even after only a few mouthfuls?

When adventurous visitors to Jamaica get a taste of Sweet Potato Pudding, they wonder why this delight has been kept a secret for so long.


People who make Sweet Potato Pudding these days, bake this snack in the oven, but it is arguably an inferior method compared to the old-fashion way of pouring the mixture into a greased dutchie (heavy thick-based metal pot), lined with “quailed” banana leaves, and setting it on an outdoor charcoal fire with a heap of fire coal placed on a metal sheet which is then used to cover the vessel.


Old-time Jamaicans call this “hell a top, hell a bottom, an’ hallelujah inna de miggle”!

Here is a series of photographs which highlight the process of making this Jamaican pastry, and at the bottom of the page is a fifty second video.

endless summer chef rodney jack
Chef Raymond Jack of Endless Summer Villa is ready with all his ingredients and tools necessary for making Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding in a dutchie on a charcoal fire.

grating the sweet potato
Grating the sweet potato.

Lining with banana leaves which have been “quailed” (warmed over the hot fire coals) imparts flavour and nutrients to the mixture as it bakes in the dutchie. Utilising the banana leaves is very important. As stated on Wikipedia ( 

“Banana leaves are large, flexible, and waterproof. They impart an aroma to food that is cooked in or served on them; steaming with banana leaves imparts a subtle sweet flavor and aroma to the dish… Besides adding flavor, the leaves keep juices in and protect food from burning, much as foil does.”


quailing the banana leaf
Quailing the banana leaf.

grease and line the dutchie pot
Lining the dutchie, greased with butter, with "quailed" banana leacves.

pour mixture into banana leaf lined dutchie pot
Pouring the mixture into the dutchie.

dutchie on the charcoal fire
Hell a top, hell a bottom, an' hallelujiah inna de miggle".

removing top fire to check
Taking a peak to see how the pudding is coming along.

using a flashlight to check on the pudding
The mixture bakes very slowly.

pudding is cooked
Baked sweet potato pudding in the dutchie.

pudding taken out of the dutchie
The pudding, tipped out of the dutchie, showing the impression of the banana leaves.

Sweet Potato Pudding made this old-fashion Jamaican way in the dutchie on a charcoal fire does not look as uniformly pretty as the versions baked in a modern oven. But what are we interested in - how it looks, or how it tastes?

pudding with a slice cut out
A big slice, cut out, and you can see the texture of the pudding and the rasins.

a slice of sweet potato pudding on a plate
Snack time!

A Youtube search will reveal many instructional videos for baking Sweet Potato Pudding. There are many variations to the recipe and everybody’s grandma’s is the best! Most of these Youtube videos are so very long, so here’s a very short video (only fifty seconds running time), featuring Chef Raymond Jack of Endless Summer Villa in Silver Sands Jamaica, which gives you a pretty good idea of what the old-fashion way of making Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding looks like:

Click here to go to Endless Summer Villa.

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