Muffins recipes

National dish of Moldova

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  • Independence: 29. 7. 1994
  • Capital: Kishinev
  • Official language: Moldovan
  • Population: 3 559 500
  • Area: 33 846 km2
  • International code: MD
  • Currency: Moldovan leu (MDL)
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  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal/maize flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Mamaliga is national food (dish) of Moldova


Heat the water in a non-stick pan and add the salt and oil. When the water starts to boil, pour the cornmeal all at once and start stirring with the tail end of a long wooden spoon. The cornmeal will begin to bubble, turn the heat down and continue stirring to prevent lumps. The mamaliga will be ready in 8-10 minutes. To test, wet the tail end of a wooden spoon with water and insert it into the mixture. When it comes out clean, it is ready. How firm the Mamaliga is depends on how much cornmeal you use and how long you cook it. Serve with sour cream or feta cheese on top.


Mamaliga is a porridge made out of yellow maize flour, traditional in Romania and Moldova. It is similar to the Italian polenta.

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 called ceaun or tuci. 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, mămăligă can be much softer, sometimes almost to the consistency of porridge. Because mămăligă 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. Mămăligă is often served with sour cream and cheese on the side (mămăliguţă cu brânză şi smântână) or crushed in a bowl of hot milk (mămăliguţă cu lapte). Sometimes slices of mămăligă are pan-fried in oil or in lard, the result being a sort of corn pone. 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 roll with mămăligă. Another very popular Romanian dish based on mămăligă is called bulz, and consists of mămăligă with cheese and butter and roasted in the oven.

Mămăligă with sour cream and cheese Balmoş (sometimes spelled balmuş) is another mămăligă-like traditional Romanian dish, but is more elaborate. Unlike mămăligă (where the cornmeal is boiled in water) when making balmoş the cornmeal must be boiled in sheep milk. Other ingredients, such as butter, sour cream, telemea (a type of feta cheese), caş (a type of fresh curdled ewe cheese without whey, which is sometimes called "green cheese" in English), urdă (a type of curdled cheese obtained by boiling and curdling the whey left from caş), etc., are added to the mixture at certain times during the cooking process. It is a specialty dish of old Romanian shepherds, and nowadays very few people still know how to make a proper balmoş. Mămăliga 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 rice.

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