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January 27, 2015
Mmmmh! Monsanto Romania Puts Spotlight on Mamaliga

Chef Vasile Nicolae ready to cook a suite of delicious mamaliga recipesRomanians are proud of their traditional food, and one of their favourite dishes is mamaliga, a variation on what the Italians call polenta, or cornbread. Made of cornmeal, mamaliga has experienced a steady rise in popularity and became a regular feature in gourmet menus around the world.

A good mamaliga starts with good maize bred specially for making mamaliga, polenta, or whatever the locals in each country call it. Monsanto’s DEKALB® seed brand includes maize varieties specific for producing a good corn meal for mamaliga in countries where it is popular, including Romania and Italy.

Mamaliga is easy to make and can be combined with almost anything. Modern mamaliga recipes are more complex than classic mamaliga prepared in the past, though, so Monsanto Romania organized a Mamaliga Festival for local journalists to introduce the art of making mamaliga as well as the role of plant breeding in producing the requisite cornmeal.

Monsanto Romania sells maize and oilseed rape hybrids through the DEKALB brand, including 25 corn hybrids and other 11 colza hybrids adapted to Romanian soil. Monsanto is a market leader in maize and oil seed rape seeds in Romania.

Five tips and tricks for a successful mamaliga

  1. Start with the basics

The ingredients needed to make good basic mamaliga are yellow cornmeal (that is fine to medium-grained), water and salt. A flavoured stock or broth can be used in place of water, and butter can be added for a richer taste.

  1. Cook simply

Once you’ve prepared the ingredients for mamaliga, you need a large pot and a wooden spoon. Mamaliga requires a lot of stirring to smooth lumps and avoid burning, so you have to use a long-handled wooden spoon to keep your hands away from the flame and bubbling hot mamaliga.

  1.  Consider the consistency

To make a softer mamaliga, the ratio of water to mamaliga should be about 3 to 1. For a firmer mamaliga, use less water. Instant mamaliga is available, but it will not turn out as tasty and creamy.

  1. Be creative

Let your imagination go wild when deciding what flavors to add or serve with mamaliga. Consider various cheeses, vegetables (peas, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, or others), fresh shaved truffles (or truffle oil or truffle butter), meat (especially short ribs or pork), shrimp (similar to shrimp and grits), or just simply butter or a good quality olive oil.

  1.  Serve it many ways

Mamaliga can be served either soft or in a firmer cake-like form. To make it firmer, all you have to do is pour the prepared mamaliga into a cake pan or bread pan and let it cool. It will firm up naturally. Either way you decide to prepare it, mamaliga can be served as a side dish or a main course. The creamy grain can also be topped with any number of sauces, meats, cheeses or herbs.

 (Source: http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/808476/polenta-recipes-and-cooking-tips)

Thanks to chef Vasile Nicolae from Gall Art for these mamaliga recipes prepared for the event!

How to make it:

 

Mamaliga with fresh herbs

Mamaliga with fresh herbs (4 portions)

Ingredients:

Cornmeal – 0.250 kg

Milk – 0.5 l

Butter – 0.080 kg

Water – 0.5 l

Green onion – 0.030 kg

Parsley  – 0.030 kg

Dill – 0.030 kg

Basil – 0.030 kg

Oregano – 0.030 kg

Cheese – 0.200 kg

Parmesan – 0.100 kg

Salt – 0.002 kg

Pepper – 0.001 kg

Garlic – 0.005 kg

Directions: Put the water to boil together with salt, pepper, milk and butter. Chop the herbs and grate the cheeses. When it starts to boil, add the cornmeal and let it cook another 20 minutes. Then add the chopped herbs and grated cheeses. You can serve it with different fresh vegetables toppings.

Mamaliga nerro di sepia  Mamaliga nerro di sepia (4 portions)

Ingredients:

Cornmeal – 0.250 kg

Milk – 0.5 l

Butter – 0.080 kg

Water – 0.5 l

Garlic – 0.003 kg

Salt – 0.002 kg

Pepper – 0.001 kg

Cuttlefish ink – 0.005 kg

Dry tomatoes – 0.200 kg

Directions: Boil the water together with the salt, pepper, milk and butter. When the water starts to boil, add the cornmeal and let it cook for 20 minutes. Chop the garlic. When the mamaliga is ready, add chopped garlic, cuttlefish ink and dry tomatoes. Garnish with different seafood.

Green mamaliga

Green mamaliga (4 portions)

Ingredients:

Cornmeal– 0.250 kg

Milk– 0.5 l

Butter – 0.080 kg

Water – 0.5 l

Arugula  – 0.100 kg

Baby spinach – 0.100 kg

Olive oil – 0.100 l

Salt – 0.002 kg

Pepper – 0.001 kg

Pine nuts – 0.200 kg

Parmesan – 0.200 kg

Directions:  Scald the baby spinach and arugula for 2-3 minutes in boiling salted water, then remove and chill on ice. Without squeezing too much, put these into a blender together with olive oil and mix until you have a homogeneous composition. Add this composition on top of the polenta, which has been boiled together with the milk, salt and pepper for 20 minutes. You can serve this with pine nuts, fresh leaves of arugula and spinach.

Mamaliga in Thay style

Mamaliga in Thai style (4 portions)

Ingredients:

Cornmeal – 0.250 kg

Coconut milk – 0.400 kg

Butter – 0.080 kg

Water – 0.5 l

Coriander – 0.010 kg

Ginger – 0.005 kg

Lime – 1 buc

Soya sauce – 0.100 l

Sesame seeds – 0.030 kg

Sesame oil – 0.030 l

Salt – 0.002 kg

Sugar – 0.010 kg

Pepper – 0.001 kg

Directions: Put the ginger, coriander and lime into the blender and chop them together. Prepare the polenta by boiling the cornmeal with water, coconut milk, butter, salt, sugar and pepper for 20 minutes. When the mamaliga has the right consistency, add first the mixture of soya sauce, sesame oil and seeds, then the chopped  herbs and lime from the blender.

Pesca with mamaliga dessert

“Pesca” with mamaliga dessert (4 portions)

Ingredients:

Cornmeal – 0.250 kg

Water – 0.400 l

Peaches – 0.600 l

Butter – 0.080 kg

Honey – 0.200 kg

Aniseeds – 0.002 kg

Goji seeds – 0.050 kg

Sour cream – 0.400 kg

Pollen grains – 0.010 kg

Pomegranate – 0.050 kg

Directions: Boil the water, honey, sauce juice and aniseeds together. When this mix starts to seethe, add the goji seeds and cornmeal. Add the butter too, and let everything boil for another 20 minutes. When ready, serve the dish with sour cream, peach pieces, pollen grains and pomegranate seeds.

In addition to being the main ingredient for mamaliga, maize:

 

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