Eating Polenta is the Same as Eating South African Mealie Meal

Mealie meal is made from coarsely ground maize (corn) and is known as mealie throughout Southern Africa.

Just like polenta, mealie meal is cooked cornmeal that can be eaten as a side or used in a variety of recipes, from bread to desserts. Learn how to make a complete meal today with the African gourmet.

Spicy Peanut Chicken with Mealie Meal is a Southern African favorite dish. Southern Africa is interesting as its diverse communities bring with them unique dishes, traditional foods, and flavors.

Southern Africa has amazing markets where you can get so many varieties of cereal grains, beans, fruit, and vegetables. You will find people who will buy a bag of cornmeal, take it home, cook it, and eat it for the next five days. 

Many places are embroiled in post-election day violence or people have been displayed so they have not been planting. Mealie meal is an economical cornmeal dish that's filling and pairs well with sauces, vegetables or meats. 

Mealie Meal it is very easy healthy and quick to make, just remember to gradually pour and stir at the same time so it does not get any lumps. Cornmeal is dried and ground field corn. Do not mix up cornmeal with the sweet corn that you eat with corn on the cob. 

Cornmeal ranges in texture from fine to medium to coarse all of which refer to the size of the cornmeal fit. Coarse cornmeal as we will use in this recipe cooks for a long time before losing its granular coarseness. When coarse cornmeal is used in a dish, the results will be a heavier greedier tasty recipe. 

Cooking Mealie Meal cornmeal dish in South Africa
Cooking Mealie Meal cornmeal dish in South Africa

Most recipes will, however, call for the use of fine or medium ground cornmeal but just know that medium ground cornmeal will give you some texture while fine cornmeal, corn flour has almost no texture at all. 

What the difference between cornmeal and corn flour, well people use the words interchangeably however this is not correct and not correct. While it is true cornmeal and corn flour are both made from Dent corn cornmeal is ground to a coarser texture than corn flour. 

Corn flour is very finely ground cornmeal. Not to confuse you but polenta is a dish, not an ingredient that uses coarsely ground cornmeal. Mealie meal and polenta can be used interchangeably since they are both made in the same way. 

So if you're from Italy and ate polenta all of your life when you go to Southern Africa mealie meal will taste a bit like home. Just like polenta mealie-meal is a side dish that goes great with all kinds of meat and sauces it can be served hot as a porridge or cooled and solidified into a loaf that can be baked fried or grilled. 

Traditionally mealie-meal is used as a side dish to soups and stews in southern Africa. Mealie meal takes about 30 minutes to make and makes anything more delicious. It pairs well with anything from sautéed vegetables to slow-cooked stews. 

It is easy to make Southern African meal at home. Mealie meal and polenta care the same when cooking, they both need to be stirred and stirred a lot for a smooth consistency. When you are making your mealie-meal cook it for the correct amount of time, so you do not have a lingering gritty taste from the ground cornmeal. Mealie-meal should be thick enough to pick up with your hands and use in the place of a fork or spoon. 

You can warm leftovers with some water or milk and stir until it becomes soft again or you can do like we like to do and make a brand new batch every day with our meals. Mealie meal will harden into the shape of the container in which you store it. Mealie-meal can be sliced or cut and used as bread for the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich you have ever had.

This Mealie meal recipe has just a few ingredients, cornmeal, salt, and water and makes a creamy Mealie meal that is thick with a neutral flavor.

Southern African Mealie Meal Recipe.


1/2 cups mealie meal (white or yellow coarse cornmeal)

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

3 cups water 


Add water in a large pot, add garlic and salt. In a large bowl mix meal and flour together well and add to water. On high heat bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly until thick paste forms. Remove from pot and allow to cool slightly before serving. Mealie meal is eaten by out pulling small pieces and squeezing it lightly to form the dough to scoop to pick up chicken and sauce. Use mealie meal in place of your fork and spoon. What to eat with your Mealie Meal?

Africa's food is as diverse as its geography and language. Spicy peanut chicken served with mealie-meal is a favorite Southern African recipe.

Cooking in Zambia Southern Africa
Cooking in Zambia Southern Africa

Spicy Peanut Chicken Recipe Ingredients and Directions


2 split chicken breasts

2 tablespoons smooth or chunky peanut butter

2 medium diced tomatoes

1 medium onion chopped

3 cups water or chicken broth

1 hot pepper diced

1 teaspoon oil


Heat the oil in the large frying pan, add onions and cook until slightly soft. In a large mixing, container mix peanut butter and water thoroughly and add to frying pan along with hot pepper, chicken and tomatoes. Simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is very tender. Serve with Mealie Meal on the side.

Mealie meal recipe has just a few ingredients

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