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Mamaliga (Polenta) - A Traditional Romanian Food


Mamaliga is an authentic Romanian food that it used to be consumed on a daily basis on the countryside as a side to various meals, mostly replacing bread. Nowadays, it remains a staple food for the Romanian culture. If you would like to experience the Romanian culinary traditions you must try mamaliga. As opposed to other food cultures (for example Mexican culture), which bake polenta as a lighlty sweetened side dish, mamaliga is used in salty dishes. The classic mamaliga is served with warm milk or with sour cream, and it goes great also with feta cheese (you can shred feta cheese on top of warm mamaliga and add sour cream). Sometimes mamaliga is also served with a sunny side up fried egg on top. Mamaliga is also an excellent side dish for some traditional Romanian stews, and is excellent as a side dish for sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls).

Here are some classic mamaliga recipes.

Basic mamaliga - How to cook mamaliga (polenta)


Cooking time: 20- 25 minutes

Makes: 6 servings


  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 pound ground cornmeal (a courser version will make a more traditional mamaliga)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 


  1.  Bring to boil the water in a large pot with the salt, then simmer and pour with a steady stream the cornmeal.
  2. Stir constantly for about 20 minutes with a wooden spoon, until you notice that the mamaliga breaks away easily from the sides of the pot.
  3. The cooked mamaliga should be thick enough to stay in place on a wooden plate.
  4. Traditionally, mamaliga is cut with a string, but modern cooks will most probably use a knife.
  5. Serve in a deep bowl with warm milk, or sour cream. You can also add Parmesan cheese or shredded feta cheese in combination with the sour cream, and also serve with fried eggs on top.
  6. Mamaliga can also be served as a side dish, for example with stuffed cabbage rolls.


Baked Mamaliga Recipe

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Makes: 6 servings


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 pound  coarse ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 3.5 ounces shredded feta cheese
  • 3.5 ounces sour cream
  • 4 eggs


  1. Prepare the basic mamaliga as in the previous recipe. 
  2. When it becomes thick, pour half of the quantity in a heat resistant glass dish.
  3. Melt the butter and pour half of it on top of the mamaliga in the baking dish. Then spread uniformly the shredded feta cheese mixed with 4 beaten eggs.
  4. Pour the rest of mamaliga on top, then spray it with melted butter.
  5. Preheat the oven at 375-400 F and bake for 15 minutes  (until the surface becomes lightly brown).
  6. Cut in pieces and serve with sour cream on top.

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