Mămăligă (Russian: Мамалыга)
is a dish made out of yellow maize traditional for
Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. It is better known to the rest of the world in its
Italian form -
a type of feta cheese and sour cream.
Historically a peasant food, it was often used as a substitute for bread
or even as a staple food in the poor rural areas. However, in the last decades
it has emerged as an upscale dish available in the finest restaurants.
Traditionally, mămăliga is cooked by boiling water, salt and cornmeal in a
special-shaped cast iron pot. When cooked peasant-style and used as a bread
substitute, mămăliga is supposed to be much thicker than the regular Italian
polenta to the point that it can be cut in slices, like bread.
When cooked for other purposes, mămăliga can be much softer, sometimes almost to
the consistency of porridge. Because mămăliga sticks to metal surfaces, it can
be cut with a string into slices, and is eaten by holding it with the hand, just
like bread would be.
Mămăliga is often served with sour cream and cheese on the side or crushed in a bowl of hot milk.
Sometimes slices of mămăligă are pan-fried in oil or in lard, the result being a
sort of corn pone (cornbread).
Since mămăliga can be used as an alternate for bread in many Romanian and
Moldovan dishes, there are quite a few which are either based on mămăligă, or
include it as an ingredient or side dish. Arguably, the most popular of them is
sarmale (a type of cabbage rolls) with mămăligă.
served with a type of feta cheese and pork scratchings.
Mămăligă is a versatile food: various recipes of mămăligă-based dishes may
include milk, butter, various types of cheese, eggs, sausages (usually fried,
grilled or oven-roasted), bacon, mushrooms, ham, fish etc. Mămăliga is a
fat-free, cholesterol-free, high-fiber food. It can be used as a healthy
alternative to more refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta or hulled