Growing up, spending holidays on the East Coast has plenty of amazing memories for my family and I. Along with putting out crayfish pots, laying a hangi and spending hours exploring the streams near the marae, I remember the food. My gran was famous for making her fried bread, money pudding and one of my favourite Maori desserts, Kānga waru.
Kānga waru translated simply means corn steamed pudding. It’s simple, delicious and to celebrate Matariki (The Maori New Year) I thought I’d share my gran’s very own recipe. Besides tasting like my childhood, I always found it very curious that kumara was used to help sweeten this dessert. Traditionally Kānga waru used ground corn and kumara to sweeten and was steamed wrapped in corn husks rather than foil. It wasn’t until early settlers arrived and introduced sugar and flour that recipes began to change from family to family. This recipe has been passed down through generations in my family and today I share it with you.
I like to enjoy my Kānga waru served hot with fresh cream, there’s really nothing better. Below I’ve tried to share a couple of my tricks on how to get this dessert steamed to perfection.
Cut 20cm strips of foil and lay them out of a table ready for the raw mixture. Place mixture in the middle of the foil and lift short ends up to meet. Roll foil down a bit at a time, sealing well with creases until you reach the mixture. Don’t make the final fold too tight, as there needs to be some space for the mixture to rise. Fold each end a couple of times to seal and then repeat for all your parcels.
First things first, you’ll need a very large pot with a lid, or a steaming pot large enough to fit the parcels. If you want to D.I.Y it like my family do, pick up a foil baking tray from your supermarket. Punch holes to allow steam to vent through, cut the tray in half, place inside itself and fit in the bottom of your large pot. Place on element and fill with boiling water until waterline is just below the tray. Bring to the boil and then place foil parcels on top of the tray in the spiral pattern, as if you were building a tower. Make sure there is plenty of space around them all before placing lid on to steam.
- 170g Cornmeal
- 100g Plain Flour
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 120g Caster Sugar
- 70g Butter – Melted
- 220g Purple Kumara – Finely Grated
- 2 Tablespoons Milk
Add all of the dry ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
Peel and finely grate kumara, melt butter and add these to the dry ingredients.
Add milk to the bowl and mix until it resembles a cookie dough consistency.
Roll mixture into a log and cut into 8 segments.
Place mixture onto foil rectangles angles and fold up into parcels (see instructions above).
Place parcels in a steaming pot (see instruction for D.I.Y steaming above).
Place on lid and steam for 30-35 minutes.
Carefully remove foil and serve hot and fresh with cream!
Below is the original photo I shot for this Kānga Waru recipe back in 2017. I decided that I’d refresh this content for Matariki celebrations 2019.