Cover picture © credits to iStock/Janna Danilova
Cover picture © credits to iStock/Janna Danilova

Mamaliga: the real national dish of Moldova

3 minutes to read

Moldova is a country that is rich with delicious and peculiar food, due to the geographical position. That allows us to have fresh fruits and vegetables together with the quality meat and poultry. We, Moldavian people, like to eat much and tasty and our cuisine can fully let that happen. Some time ago, I told you about general parts of the national Moldavian cuisine, but today you will find out detailed information about the dish, that is one of the most popular in our country - "Mamaliga" or "Hominy". It is a cornmeal porridge that could be found in any village house in Moldova. Almost every family has its own special recipe for hominy preparation. However, you can easily find mamaliga in the city too, as this real national dish is not so hard to obtain.

The real symbol of our national cuisine

Corn has appeared in Moldova 200 years ago and became one of the most popular ingredients in food for poor people. The earliest mention of corn could be found in the Moldavian Principality and dates back to the time of the rule of Constantin Duca (1693-1695). After some time, people began to cook various dishes using cornmeal. One of the most favorite is mamaliga that is the real symbol of our national cuisine. Of course, as we all know, hominy can be found in other cuisines as well, such as Georgian, Abkhazian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Chechens and Ossetians. However, our people used to count it as their own. 

Picture © credits to iStock/niromaks
Picture © credits to iStock/niromaks

How to prepare mamaliga?

To cook hominy in the usual way, you need 2 cups of cornmeal, 4 glasses of water and 1/3 tablespoon of salt. Mamaliga is prepared from cornmeal. It should be lightly dried and sieved. To make it taste better, you need to prepare it in the pot. Actually, as I mentioned before, each family has its own way of cooking mamaliga. However, we have the general recipes too. For example: be sure that cornmeal is finely ground, sift and dry. Pour some flour and salt in a pot with boiling water for 5 minutes. The rest of flour pour into a pile and divide it with a wooden spoon into four pieces. Boil it without interfering for about 15-20 minutes. Then knead well so that there are no lumps. After that, stir up the mamaliga with a spoon, leave it on the edge of a plate for 10-15 minutes under the closed lid. When hominy is ready, shake the pot well and turn it upside down, then put it on a dry wooden board. Following the traditions, we cut mamaliga with a wooden knife or a thread. Don’t forget to serve it with melted butter, sour cream, grated cheese or cracklings. 

Picture © credits to iStock/pfongabe33
Picture © credits to iStock/pfongabe33

Hominy really benefits the body

Experts say that corn, the main ingredient of mamaliga, could really bring the benefits to the human body. The reason lies in the wealth of unsaturated fatty acids (85-90%), a lot of fiber, carbohydrates, protein, a lot of vitamins of group B, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. While cooking, corn loses some of the nutrients, however more than 60% of them are stored in the hominy! Corn is very effective against stress, being rich with vitamins of group B, especially vitamin B1, which affects the functions of the nervous system, muscles, heart and the production of red blood cells. In addition, boiled corn contains potassium, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the muscles and the heart. In case of increased acidity, gastritis and ulcers, it is useful to replace wheat bread with warm hominy because it also has a slightly sedative effect. Carbohydrates contained in corn charge the body with energy and even prevent the accumulation of fat!

Picture © credits to iStock/ddsign_stock
Picture © credits to iStock/ddsign_stock

Where to find mamaliga in Chisinau?

Many people, by mistake, consider mamaliga the analogue for polenta, but that's not true. Mamaliga is a way more simple dish of our national cuisine, as you got a chance to find out today! In addition, it was interesting to tell you that mamaliga is not only tasty but also beneficial dish for the human body. Anyway, you may think of the places where to eat delicious hominy in Chisinau. A diversity of the national mamaliga dish you can easily find in the "La Placinte" restaurant in Chisinau, on Stefan cel Mare street, 182 or to try your luck in Restaurant "Moldovenesc" in the shopping center "Sun City" on Pushkin Street, 32. 

La Placinte, Chisinau
La Placinte, Chisinau
Restaurant Moldovenesc, Chisinau
Restaurant Moldovenesc, Chisinau
Strada Pușkin 32, Chișinău, Молдавия

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The author

Vladlena Martus

Vladlena Martus

My name is Vladlena and I am originally from Moldova. Currently I’m based in Saint-Petersburg where I study journalism. I love writing, traveling and taking photos, trying to enjoy my life as much as I can!

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