Cornmeal… Again???


Cornmeal again.. I know what you’re thinking.. Who cares? Well I care and so should you… Cornmeal has been a staple in what is now Mexico as far back as 10,000 years ago (The Evolution of Corn, 2013) . It’s an All American GRAIN if ever there was one.  Maize or cornmeal was milled by slaves in the south and made into a mush similar to polenta known as pone bread (Holloway PhD, 2012). Our beloved cornmeal has been a great source of nutrition for a very long time. For so many people across the globe.  So there you have it, cornmeal IS worth another mention! It’s nutritious, inexpensive, and delicious (when prepared with love, and errr… some other stuff) Here’s a recipe I found for an African style cornmeal porridge –via Haiti.


Chef Will Hall

African Cornmeal Porridge (Zambia) / Nshima (en-SHEE-mah)

(This is meant to accompany the Haitian bean sauce. Note the cultural link between Haitian and African cuisine as a result of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.)

Serves 6

Boil in large soup pot:

6 c. water

Mix in bowl:

1 c. white cornmeal

1c. water

Stir until smooth, then add to boiling water. Simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add, about ½ c. at a time:

2 ¼ – 2 ½ c. extra cornmeal

1 tsp. salt (optional)

After each ½ c. or cornmeal, stir well with wooden spoon until all dry particles disappear and all lumps are smoothed. Continue stirring vigorously a few more minutes until Nshima is stiff enough to handle easily without dripping off fingers. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. The longer it sits, the stiffer it becomes. Stir again before serving.

Spoon Nshima into large serving dish, smoothing it into rounded mound with back of wet spoon, or serve on platter in large patties. Soak pot in cold water for easier washing.

Fry leftovers like cornmeal mush.

A cultural note: Zambians make Nshima with mealie-meal, ground, unrefined white field corn. Stone-ground cornmeal is a close substitute. Africans would not use yellow cornmeal, although North Americans may enjoy experimenting with it. (Handrich Schlabach., 1991)


All citations labeled with a “*(The Evolution of Corn Article)” are from

cornmeal image. (2013). Retrieved from

Beadle, G. W. (1980). The ancestry of corn. Scientific American, 242 (1), 112-119. *(The Evolution of Corn Article)

Doebley, J. Stec, A., Wendel, J., & Edwards, M. (1990). Genetic and morphological analysis of a maize-teosinte F2 population: Implications for the origin of maize. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 87, 9888-9892. *(The Evolution of Corn Article)

Doebley, J. & Stec, A. (1993). Inheritance of the morphological differences between maize and teosinte: comparison of results for two F2 populations. Genetics, 134, 559-570. *(The Evolution of Corn Article)

Doebley, J., Stec, A. & Hubbard, L (1997). The evolution of apical dominance in maize. Nature, 386, 485-488. (subscription required) *(The Evolution of Corn Article)

Kane, N. & Rieseberg, L. (2005). Maize genetics: the treasure of the Sierra Madre. Current Biology, 15 (4), R137-R139. *(The Evolution of Corn Article)

Wang, H., Nussbaum-Wagler, T., Li, B., Zhao, Q., Vigourous, Y., Faller, M., Bomblies-Yant, K., Lukens, L. & Doebley, J. (2005). The origin of the naked grains of maize. Nature, 436, 714-719. *(The Evolution of Corn Article)

Holloway PHd, J. E. (2012). African crops and slave trade. Retrieved from…/african-cornmeal-porridge.pdf‎

Image obtained from: Levin and Company, Inc, M. (2012). Cornmeal image. Retrieved from

Handrich Schlabach., J. (1991). African cornmeal porridge. Retrieved from


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