Mieliepap, also known as maize meal porridge is the South African version of creamy polenta porridge, cornmeal porridge or creamy breakfast grits. Other names include Ugali, Sadza and Nsima.
As a child (before internet) I had often heard terms on television like southern grits, hushpuppy, cheese grits, breakfast grits, the best grits recipe or how to make grits. All I could wonder was what are grits and what are grits made of when they have it for breakfast or dinner.
What are grits and what are grits made of
- One would think that mealie meal, polenta and grits are all the same since it is ground up dried corn.
- Mealie meal is made from dried white maize originally brought to Africa from South America by the Portuguese. It is sold in either coarse or fine varieties depending on what it is used for and is not as fine as cornflour / cornstarch.
- Stone ground grits are made from a variety of North American corn that is more starchy and less sweet than sweetcorn, and has a coarser texture than cornmeal.
- Polenta is made from a variety of corn with a hard starchy center found in Italy. It cooks up much more grainy than mealie meal and is suitable for savory dishes.
My first taste of mieliepap was during a childhood summer vacation when we visited my parents’ friends in the city of Mafikeng (now Mahikeng), in the North West province. It was cooked in a savory crumbly style and known as phuthu (krimmelpap), and served with braaied meat and tomato sauce. The locals lovingly referred to the meal as pap en tik.
I have memories of my mother getting up an hour or so before suhoor to start preparing our first meal for the day of fasting. As children, our favorite suhoor meal was snackwiches… toasted sandwiches with cheese, chicken or meat leftover from the previous night’s dinner. As I grew older, I was less inclined to eat in the morning, and found that there were certain foods, like oatmeal and cereals that were not conducive to fasting.
Some years ago I stayed over at a small guesthouse in Caledon during Ramadhan. The guest house owner insisted on waking up early to make a cooked breakfast of sweet and creamy mieliepap for me on the first day. She cooked the most delicious maize meal porridge and although I had never eaten it before it was delicious and sustained me for the whole day.
I found that I fasted for most of the day without feeling the tiredness and lack of energy that usually befalls a fasting person, especially during the summer months. Since then I have eaten this for suhoor, at least for the first week of Ramadhan.
I hope that you will enjoy the Mieliepap with fresh berries for suhoor or breakfast, as much as I do. You can use white corn meal or polenta if you cannot find the white mielie (maize) meal.
How to make mieliepap porridge smooth and lump free
- Use stone ground, preferably organic non-GMO mielie meal for the best result. It will have fewer additives and harmful chemicals.
- Cook the mieliepap on a low and slow heat.
- Remember to season while it cooks or it will taste very bland.
- Adding milk makes it creamy but may also cause it to catch on the bottom of the pot, so watch carefully and stir occasionally.
Leftover mielie pap, if any, can be refrigerated and used later in these Sweet corn and Polenta fritters.
If you don’t like warm porridge why not try these other breakfast ideas:
- Overnight Dairy Free Muesli and Oats
- Greek yogurt and Granola breakfast bowl
- Almond and coconut breakfast pancakes
- Banana pancakes with mixed berries
- 30 day raisin bran muffins
Mieliepap with fresh berries (Maize meal porridge)
- 75 grams fine white cornmeal or maize meal (approximately 125ml or ½ cup)
- 375 ml water
- 250 ml milk
- 1.25 ml of salt
- 15 ml butter
- 2 cm cinnamon stick
- 1 ml fine cardamom or 2 cardamom pods
- 30 ml sugar or honey
- 125 ml Extra milk (for thinner consistency)
- 125 ml raspberries
- Place the cornmeal or maize meal and water into a small saucepan.
- Add the cardamom and cinnamon.
- Turn on the heat to low and allow the water to come slowly to simmer.
- Stir occasionally to ensure that the it doesn't form one big clump and increase the heat after 10 minutes.
- Add the salt.
- When the slurry begins to simmer vigorously whisk or stir continuously and add the butter and milk. If you like a thinner consistency, add an additional 125 ml of milk.
- Be careful as the mixture may begin to splutter at this point.
- Remove the saucepan from the stove top and remove the cinnamon and cardamom pods from the porridge before decanting the porridge into bowls.
- Add fresh berries and honey to sweeten to taste.
- Any other berries may be substituted for raspberries.
- You could also serve the porridge with poached seasonal fruits.
Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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