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Chai Pudding (Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free, Low-FODMAP)

This lactose-free, gluten-free, and low-FODMAP dessert has all the flavors of a warming mug of chai.

I finally caved and got myself some cardamom.

I love chai. And of all the spices that make chai…well, chai, cardamom is really the essential one. It’s potent, very distinctive, and kind of unlike anything else. And a little bit goes along way.

I had resisted buying cardamom because it’s not called for in very many recipes (unlike, say, cinnamon.) If you buy a regular-sized jar of it, it’s also really expensive. Recently, however, I discovered a brand at Whole Foods that comes in a really small container, not much more than a couple of tablespoons. Unless you make a lot of chai and curry, your average American foodie really doesn’t need much more than that in the cabinet.

Beyond cardamom, I guess there’s some degree of choice about what spices to put in your chai. Cinnamon, fennel, allspice, cloves, and black peppercorns are all popular inclusions–steeped, of course, with black tea in hot water and sweetened milk.

For this chai-flavored pudding, I kept it really simple with four flavors–the essential cardamom, cloves to make it spicy, cinnamon because who doesn’t love cinnamon, and vanilla for richness. Even with just small quantities of these four spices, the pudding has a ton of flavor.

Question for food photographers everywhere: how do you make pudding (i.e. gelatinous off-white goo) pretty? This photo kind of reminds me of when we ate pudding “brains” in second grade while we were learning about the nervous system.

I promise, promise, promise that this pudding tastes a lot better than brains. It’s no looker, but it’s sure to impress your foodie friends’ palates.

Also linking up with Running on Happy and Fit Foodie Mama for Meatless Monday and Vegetarian Mamma for Gluten-Free Friday!


Chai Pudding
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  1. 2 cups lactose-free dairy milk
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  4. 1/8 tsp. salt
  5. 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  6. 1/8 tsp. ground cloves (or less, to taste; cloves is very spicy)
  7. 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  8. 2 black tea bags (I used decaf)
  9. 2 egg yolks
  10. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Separate your eggs and place the yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cornstarch, sugar, salt and spices in a medium pot. Add the milk and tea bags and stir to combine. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. (Note that it will take a long time--almost 15 minutes for me--for the mixture to boil. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat or stop stirring for too long, as this will cause the milk to scald.)
  3. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue stirring for one minute, then remove the tea bags.
  4. Working quickly, pour half of the hot milk mixture in with the egg yolks. Quickly stir to incorporate the yolks and immediately return to the pot. Boil one minute more, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to another bowl or container and refrigerate until completely cool and set.
The Hungry Caterpillar
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  1. Cora says:

    Oh yum!!! I’ve become such a pudding lover in my (older) age and am frequently seen walking the halls of my theatre with kiddie pudding snack packs. No shame. But thiisssss sounds incredible. Warming and comforting.
    And I think your pictures are great and make it look extremely inviting.

    1. Joyce says:

      Me too! I was actually not so much into pudding as a kid, but now it’s one of my favorite treats.

  2. Kat says:

    Mmm this looks so thick and creamy!! I absolutely adore pudding but I haven’t had it in ages. Need to make this asap!

  3. What a unique idea, Joyce! I used to be on a major pudding kick years ago, in fact leading to a doubtfully charming nickname ;). Plus, I’m a huge fan of chai spices.
    Sssh: you can find super cheap spices in Asian/Indian groceries. At least that’s what it’s like over here.

  4. Oh yum! This sounds great!! I will definitely try this recipe out! As far as making pudding look delicious in a photo…that’s tough! I do find that things look a little bit more yummy when you sprinkle some extra cinnamon or spices on top for garnish!

  5. Chai flavor is such a great idea! I love the warming spices on chilly mornings.

  6. Annmarie says:

    Love that this is Low FODMAP! Cannot wait to give it a try!

  7. Seriously so impressed at how thick and creamy this is; homemade pudding is the BEST!

  8. Alyssa says:

    I’ve never been a huge pudding person tbh. But I am a HUGE chai person. Seriously one of my fave drinks ever!

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