Posted by: Rachael | February 2, 2010

Recipe from Romania

Every time we make it we think of our friends!
And often we are eating it with kiwi friends – who, without exception, have found it to be a bit strange! But then we remember we did at first too.

For every cup of cornmeal, you need to bring three cups of salted water to the boil. Slowly pour in your cornmeal, stirring both constantly and vigorously. One man we watched had a special technique of twisting his jar from side to side as he poured, other ladies just poured in a slow steady stream. Turn the heat down, pop a lid on and let it cook for a few minutes. Give it another stir and serve when ready. Preferably with spicy sausages, garlic sauce and eggs – although we used mushrooms in this instance.

Mamaliga can also be made thicker by using less water. Then it can be sliced and fried (very good) or rolled into balls, perhaps formed around a piece of cheese, then baked in the oven (also very good), or dropped into soup (not at all bad) or crumbled into milk and served for breakfast (another edible option).
That we ever ended up making mamaliga, is testament to our pigheadedness perseverance. Our initial introduction to the stuff provided amunition for a blogpost entitled *when everything goes wrong in the kitchen*
Glad we kept trying. Now we’ve got corn growing in our little garden!



  1. I struggle every time I try cooking polenta (which is probably only half a dozen times!). It either sticks even while vigorously cooking, or it splatters me and the surrounding surfaces (while stirring vigourously) as it bubbles like a Rotorua mudpool! And what is with the recipes saying to boil for something like 20-30mins when mine is always ready within 10mins and any more would see it caked onto the pot even more? Must try it again sometime.:) Nice as an alternative pizza base when done to firmer proportions.

    • We splatter to Africa too!! I tend to turn the heat down.

  2. Nikki, maybe you are using fine ground cornmeal (sometimes called cornflour – not to be confused with cornstarch). You can also get a pre-cooked polenta/cornmeal which cooks in around 5-10 minutes. Otherwise the coarse-ground cornmeal or polenta does take a good 20 or so minutes to cook.
    Rachael you should try the gourmet polenta I posted over on your travel blog – use chicken stock (homemade of course!) and then at the end add a pottle of cream and a hunk or parmesan grated. It is so delish. I roasted sausages, red onions, green peppers and mushrooms then made a gravy to serve with it. Mmm.

    I am loving all these recipes from your travels.

    • Louise, we tried your recipe when we were in Romania, using goat’s cheese instead of parmesan (and chicken stock from a box). Even with these adaptations, it was seriously delicious.

  3. As someone who lives in a region where corn’s been a staple food for over a thousand years, I have to say you’re probably better off buying corn meal than growing it. Corn is a nutrient hog and getting enough quality corn to use as a grain is very, very difficult. Growing some sweet corn for corn on the cob eating is a lot more rewarding, since the sugars in sweet corn convert to starch the instant it’s picked, so there is a huge difference in the quality of fresh picked home-grown sweet corn on the cob and anything you can buy. I start my water boiling before I pick the corn- even a few minutes to get the water hot enough to cook the corn has an impact on the flavor!

    On the other hand, the best way to make sure you get enough nitrogen to this heavy feeding plant in the garden is cheap and the boys will probably thrill at it- just pee on the plants every so often.

    You can see why I buy my cornmeal at the store, much to the disappointment of the boys.

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