Pudding is a type of food that can be either a dessert or a savoury (salty or spicy) dish that is part of the main meal.[note 1]
In North America, pudding characteristically denotes a sweet, milk-based dessert similar in consistency to egg-based custards, instant custards or a mousse, often commercially set using cornstarch, gelatin or similar coagulating agent such as Jell-O.
The modern American usage to denote a specific kind of dessert has evolved from the originally almost exclusive use of the term to describe savory dishes, specifically those created using a process similar to that used for sausages, in which meat and other ingredients in mostly liquid form are encased and then steamed or boiled to set the contents. Black (blood) pudding and haggis survive from this tradition.
In the United Kingdom and some of the Commonwealth countries, the word pudding is still used to describe both sweet and savory dishes. Unless qualified, however, the term in everyday usage typically denotes a dessert; in the United Kingdom, pudding is used as a synonym for a dessert course. Dessert puddings are rich, fairly homogeneous starch- or dairy-based desserts such as rice pudding, steamed cake mixtures such as treacle sponge pudding with or without the addition of ingredients such as dried fruits as in a Christmas pudding. Savory dishes include Yorkshire pudding, black pudding, suet pudding and steak and kidney pudding.
In some Commonwealth countries these puddings are known as custards (or curds) if they are egg-thickened, as blancmange if starch-thickened, and as jelly if gelatin-based. Pudding may also refer to other dishes such as bread pudding and rice pudding, although typically these names derive from their origin as British dishes.