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Bălmuș - cheesy mamaliga (Romanian polenta)


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This is similar to Italian polenta. Bests served along sour cream, stews (of beans, mushrooms, or meat - for examples search for "tokana") and red wine.

You have two options of serving it, resulting in different textures. If eaten fresh out of the oven, it is lightly set but creamy. If chilled overnight, it will solidify and resemble polenta made in the same fashion, at this point it eats more like cornbread.


Ingredients for quick stock - you can use 500ml of a pre made vegetable or chicken stock instead, you can also use store bought stock:

  • 6 bay leaves
  • 3 all spice berries, cracked
  • a few celery stalks or a large bunch of celery leaves (I have leaves left after using the stalk for mirepoix)
  • optional: 1/2 carrot, chopped
  • 550ml (2.5 cup) water or stock


Ingredients for mamaliga:

  • 250g of cornmeal
  • 200ml (1 cup) milk
  • 2 eggs
  • optional: 
  • apx 100g of crumbled brained ewe milk cheese (e.g. feta)
  • apx 80g somewhat aged cheese, ewe milk cheese is preferred (Burduf will be traditional, I use Manchego and and some smoked mozzarella) 
    • I appreciated the addition of smokiness, so if you don't include smoked cheese, maybe throw in a bit of smoked paprika or bacon
  • salt to taste
  • pepper
  • some fresh thyme (optional and not traditional)



  • If making a quick stock, cook the water, bay leaves, all spice, celery and carrot - covered, until flavors are extracted. A pressure cooker makes quick work at that.
  • Drain the stock, add the milk and cornmeal.
  • Cook while stirring and scrapping the bottom until it is thickened.
  • Let cool a little and mix in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour into a buttered casserole dish.
  • Bake at high heat (210C) until the top is set, apx 30 minutes.
  • Place a few small pieces of butter on top and let them melt.
  • You can chill it overnight to end up with a firmer texture, or resume baking immediately to end up with a softer creamier (but still set) texture.
  • Bake until the top is crisp and well browned, ~15 minutes, or longer if it was chilled.
  • Serve with stews, sour cream and wine.





This image is of it baked without chilling, as you can see, it is fully set, but not firm.



And this is after crisping again the next day. Firmer, not as creamy. Can be eaten like cornbread.


Edited by shain (log)
  • Like 1
  • Delicious 2

~ Shai N.

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