This dish is traditionally known in Western Ukraine, especially the Carpathian Mountains as “Kulesha”, in Romania and Moldova as “Mamaliga” and in Italy as “Polenta”.
Kulesha is similar in texture to cornbread, but is cooked in a saucepan on the stove. As it cooks, it gets very thick and difficult to stir. Baba had a wooden dowel she used mainly for stirring the Kulesha.
Baba and Gedo made it frequently, usually eating it with cottage cheese (or brinza, a cheese made from sheep’s milk) and sour cream. I liked it best sliced in slabs and served with borscht or chicken in sour cream sauce. Give it a try. Get adventurous with the recipe e.g. add fried chopped bacon, onions, peppers, etc.
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Patricia Caine (nee Rusnak) is originally from Thunder Bay, ON. Both her parents came to Canada from the Ukraine. She has put these recipes together as a tribute to her parents, for her family and Canada's 150th.