Welcome To Mamaliga!

MamaligaAs Wikipedia’s entry for mamaliga or Mămăligă (/mə.mə’li.gə/), states

Mămăligă Romanian: Mămăligă, Russian: Мамалыга, Polish: Mamałyga, cornmeal mush is a dish made out of yellow maize traditional for Romania and Moldova. It is better known to the rest of the world in its Italian form – polenta.”

the dish is by no means something that Romanians can appropriate more than just being a traditional food to Romania as well as to the whole Balkanic Peninsula. In fact, even if I am a Romanian (living in Chicago), I can’t point out a dish that strictly belongs to Romania due to the cultural influence of continuous Balkan occupations that ruled the small country during the history.

But what IS (or WAS) Mamaliga after all?

Mamaliga was simply a convenient food that was used by farmers or peasants as a staple food, a substitute for bread. Then it became part of the contemporary Romanian cuisine, (or rather Balkanic cuisine), as well as a creative dish in restaurants.

As simple and innocent it sounds, Mamaliga represents a whole identity concept Romanians refer to, a subject that can slide in the philosophy realm that I’ll restrain getting into it for now. I’ll rather keep Mamaliga what it is: food!

This Mamaliga blog is dedicated to my latest passion – cookingRomanian cuisine with tangential subjects like culture, Romanian diaspora, music, cooking videos, recipes and such. Hope you’ll find it interesting!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

15 thoughts on “Welcome To Mamaliga!”

  • Hello,
    Great blog! I look forward to try some of this tasty recipes! Any chance you can post the one for ciorba da burta?
    Keep up the good work, I will read you often.
    Best regards,

  • hey, can it be made with corn flour? What is corn meal? I tried it with corn flour but it does not taste the same i had tasted in Romania.

    Thank you so much!

  • Anthony,

    It can although it might be too fine of a ground for it. The corn meal is basically the same but more coarsely ground. You need some texture to it.
    Hope it makes sense.

  • Mamaliga much to my surprise appeared in the Scrabble dictionary and I almost flipped to see it because I don’t think it is in Webster’s dictionary…anyhow couldn’t find it on the net…my daughter suggested the author of the Scrabble dictionary must have been a Romanian.

  • Here’s a dish I make with mamaliga… called “feli” it was a dish that my mother brought over from Romania. The mamaliga is made as you say, and cut (I use dental floss) Layer the mamaliga, brick cheese, sour cream and grated romano cheese. Bake at 350 for approximately a half hour to fourty five minutes… Really wonderful, my entire family and friends just love it.

  • Virginia: Thanks for the comment! The Scrabble dictionary includes Mamaliga! Now that’s something! Frome pure humbleness to glory! No wonder you can find it in 5 star restaurants all over the world!

  • Andrea: I am suspecting ‘feli’ refers to the Romanian word for slice (felie or felii for plural).
    That’s a fabulous recipe, and I found a similar one in my DiMedici Italian cookbook, but there the layer had also diced tomatoes (of course, it’s Italian). I suspect the ‘brick cheese’ you mention was real Feta, right?
    Thanks for writing!

  • Brick cheese is more firm than Feta, and not crumbly. I live in Pennsylvania, and don’t know if it’s a more local cheese. The appearance is more like Havarti cheese, but tasts quite different, hard to explain.

  • buna ziua ! imi cer scuze pt.ca nu voi scrie in engleza(poate din teama de a gresi si a nu fi bine inteles),insa mamaliga e un tip de mancare 100% romaneasca.Asa cum am mai spus si am raspuns unora(vezi adevarul despre mamaliga,se poate cauta cu google),mamaliga are o vechime de peste 1000 ani(cu exactitate nu se stie)pe teritoriu romaniei fiind facuta(atunci)din mei.Polenta este tipic italieneasca(cu vechime indelungata pe teritoriul actual al italiei)si pare a fi originara din regiunea venetiei!E destul de curios locul de provenienta al polentei de aceea nu m ar mira sa aflam intr un viitor ca nu e a lor…asa cum s a intamplat si cu pastele ce sunt originare din China.In ceea ce priveste mamaliga,aceasta se poate face in 2 feluri:1. mai moale,unde timpul de facere este intre 10 si 15 minutes si 2: mai tare, unde timpul de facere este mai indelungat iar mamaliga rezista mai mult si chiar se poate taia feli.Primul tip de mamaliga(de regula)se serveste in restaurante,iar cel de al 2 lea se face(deregula)in casa intr un ceaun( vas din fonta traditonal romanesc)dupa care se intoarce pe un fund de lemn si se taie cu ata.Ceaunul si taiatul mamaligii cu ata(printre alte catva lucruri)diferentiaza polenta de a noastra mamaliga.CRED in autenticitatea mamaligii si NU CRED ca e o copie a polentei, din contra…

  • My fathers 92 b-day was celebrated today and I made him Sarmale and what we call gasca. It sounds the same as feli. My grandmother always used brick cheese, but as it has gotten harder to find we use Monterery Jack. I have found all kinds of different Sarmale recipes, but never heard of the gasca only mamaliga. I am happy to hear that someone makes the same.

  • “Gasca” – hmm… never heard it. Unless it refers to goose (written “Gîsca”) and the mamaliga dish with, well… goose. “Feli” – I suspect this has something to do with “slices” as that’s what it means in Romanian.

  • Mamaliga is made with yellow corn meal, and except for the seasoning is the same as “grits” a southern dish made with white corn meal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *