There’s more to polenta than polenta…
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/2 cups sweetcorn, drained
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
180 ml milk, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
optional – finely chopped scallions, parsley, chives, cilantro (coriander), chillies, red peppers (red capsicum), shredded cheese, herbs, spices…
oil for frying (e.g. canola, sunflower, olive)
Place everything in a bowl except the oil and mix together well. Add more milk if it seems too thick.
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Working in batches, drop spoonful’s of the mixture into the pan. Fry the fritters for 2 or 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Add oil between batches as needed. Drain on paper towel and serve warm.
Cold Roasted Vegetable & Mozzarella Tart with a Cornmeal Base
1/2 cup medium-grind cornmeal
400 ml milk or water, or a combination of milk and water, or stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 medium zucchini (courgette)
1 small eggplant (aubergine)
1 red- and 1 yellow pepper (capsicum)
250g small grape/cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
200g bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 220°C. Trim the zucchini, eggplant and peppers, halve or cut in thirds depending on size and cut into in wide strips, de-stem and thickly slice the mushrooms and halve the tomatoes. Pile them into a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss so everything is coated.
Roast in hot oven for 40 minutes, until tender and starting to brown. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, put the milk/water or stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium heat. When it starts simmering, add the salt then slowly stir in the cornmeal. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.
When it’s smooth and creamy, stir in the butter/oil and the Parmesan, if using.
Use damp fingers or a non-stick spatula to press polenta/cornmeal into an oiled pie dish and set aside to cool and set, about half an hour. When ready, put under the broiler (oven grill) for 5 minutes to brown. Set aside to cool again.
Drain any liquid from the cooled vegetables (reserve it for another use). Toss the filling ingredients together then pile them into the “pastry”. Chill if desired, or serve at room temperature.
Nsima with Ndiwo
This is a Malwai dish, adapted from here.
The traditional way to eat nsima is to break pieces off the “patty”, roll it into a ball and form a depression with your thumb which you then use as a scoop to eat the accompanying stew.
1 cup (240 ml) (170 gm) (6 oz) cornmeal
2½ cups (600 ml) water
Put water in a medium saucepan and heat. Just before it comes to a boil, gradually stir in half the cornmeal until smooth. When it starts bubbling, reduce heat to low and gradually stir in the remaining cornmeal. Cover the pot and turn off heat. Leave to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, undisturbed.
When ready to serve, use a large spoon, wet it and scoop the nsima into burger-sized patties onto plates. Serve immediately.
3-4 cups (750 ml -1000 ml) chopped greens of your choice (we used cabbage and silverbeet)
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon oil (we used peanut)
2 tomatoes, chopped
240 ml water
salt to taste
pepper and salt for serving
Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté the onion until translucent. Add all other ingredients, cover for a few minutes, until greens are tender and tomato has broken down a bit. Remove lid and simmer another 5 minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated.
Spoon into bowls, sprinkle with a little more salt and some freshly ground black pepper and serve with nsima.
Poudine maïs is a traditional Mauritian dessert. Recipe adapted from here.
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups cold water
3 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar (or more to taste)
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons sultanas
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons desiccated coconut + 1 tablespoon (5 gm) extra for sprinkling
extra butter for greasing
Put the cornmeal in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and cook over a medium heat until it starts to bubble.
Add remaining ingredients (except extra coconut and butter for greasing) and mix well.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring continuously, until the liquid has been absorbed into the cornmeal and it has the consistency of porridge (oatmeal), about 5 minutes.
Take off the heat.
Butter a shallow dish and pour the mixture into the dish. Sprinkle over the extra coconut and place the dish in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. Serve cold.