It's not surprising this Romanian cornmeal porridge or mamaliga is similar to Italian polenta. In the 16th century, the Turks introduced corn brought by Venetian merchants from the New World to northern Italians and Romanians, who planted the corn and made mush with it. This mush became Italian polenta and Romanian mamaliga. Mamaliga is a staple and is served on peasant tables and in the fanciest restaurants. It can be made in so many ways -- boiled in water, stock or milk, with cheese or sour cream, herbs, butter, and on and on. This is a basic soft mamaliga recipe. Makes 6 servings.


  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Telemea or feta cheese (optional)
  • Fresh herbs of choice (optional)


  1. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the salt and butter, stirring to melt. Using a wooden spoon, add the cornmeal very gradually, while stirring constantly in the same direction.
  2. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot, about 35-40 minutes. Serve hot.
NOTE: If desired, while mamaliga is still hot, add more butter, cheese, sour cream and herbs. Mamaliga can also be served with a dollop of sour cream. Mamaliga can be poured into a shallow dish. When cool, it can be flipped out onto a cutting board, cut into squares and sauteed in butter until crispy.