Breakfast with Cornmeal: Kuymak

Turkey has several defined geographical regions with the difference reflected in their climates, agriculture, cuisines and personalities of the people living there. Black Sea region is one of them.

The high mountains that lay parallel to Black Sea traps the moisture along the sea line, creating a lush green cover. Several rivers run through these mountains and provide access to inland with valleys. Where the rivers meet with Black Sea is nothing but fertile deltas for agriculture. This region boasts with high commercial production of  hazelnut, tea and tobacco. Most of the world’s hazelnut come from Turkey, which might justify this household’s Nutella consumption. When it comes to the people from this region, they are hard working, quick witted, and business minded people. They also have a characteristic nose structure that relieve their origin immediately.

Fish, especially anchovy, corn, kale, different kinds of bread and cheese are some staples that I can think of in the Black Sea cuisine . This is mostly based on my experience of what was cooking my best friend’s’ home whose family is from this regions, while I was growing up. Especially my sleepovers at Selen’s house whom we have been friends since 1st grade, were always delight. Her mom was a great cook, the kind that pushed my “hot” levels. The whole family always added extra Aleppo pepper or black pepper to the dishes. She also used to make some mean tripe soup and rice with kale. If I was staying over the weekend, there was kuymak time to time on the breakfast table.

Kuymak, which is just a simple combination of cornmeal, butter, and cheese, is a great filling breakfast dish. I don’t know why I have not thought about it before to make in lieu of grits! Yeah, now you wait and see, grits! I have something to bring to the table that will claim your place!

I have found several versions of this dish in Tugrul Savkay’s cookbooks and The Turkish Cookbook by Sheila Kaufman and Nur Ilkin. I went with the latter because of the lesser amount of butter it called for. The recipe called for 1 cup mozzarella cheese but when I found stringy Oaxaca cheese in the cheese aisle, which said “melts like a dream” on the package, I could not resist.  And I added more than a cup. This recipe yields 4 large servings or 6 small servings.

Next time, instead of cheesy grits, this one will be showing up at the table!

Cheesy Cornmeal (Kuymak)

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese or Oaxaca cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika to garnish

1. Boil water, salt, black pepper and butter in a deep skillet.

2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add cornmeal and stir frequently to break up all the clumps until it reaches a thick consistency.

3. Add cheese and stir until all melts.

4. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve hot.





  1. by Gokce
    3:26 pm
    Sep 25, 2011

    Yine dokturmussun :-)

  2. by Lana
    3:37 pm
    Sep 25, 2011

    Ilke, that’s one of my favorite breakfasts! My girls love it, too:) We serve it with farmer’s cheese, white, cow cheese similar to feta (it could be softer or harder) and “kajmak”, which is something similar to clotted cream of England.
    My American husband loves grits, as he is from Atlanta, but was reluctant to try corn meal (?) Once I made it with cheese, he converted:)
    I still don’t see the big difference between the two, but I love corn meal of any kind!

  3. by Ilke
    8:24 pm
    Sep 25, 2011

    Lana, I will try with different cheese like you suggested next time. My husband said the same thing about not being different than grits. But I will stick to cornmeal dish :)
    @Gloria and Elizabeth, thanks ladies…
    @Gokce, happens when I am sitting at home on a rainy Sunday :-)

  4. by Elizabeth
    3:39 pm
    Sep 25, 2011

    Oh goodness, that looks so comforting, Ilke. and the pictures are divine!

  5. by gloria
    5:36 pm
    Sep 25, 2011

    This sounds absolutely nice!! gloria

  6. by Melinda
    2:25 pm
    Sep 26, 2011

    I will definitely be making this. I have a bunch of cornmeal I need to use and who doesn’t love cheese?!!! yum!

  7. by Moonshine
    10:14 pm
    May 22, 2013

    Hi!! I’m a Turkish girl living in Chicago and just found out your blog looking for kuymak recipes online :D I love it as both my grandparents are from Trabzon. Thanx for sharing it. We made it tonight with shredded kashkaval cheese, unsalted butter, and yellow cornmeal, and it turned out delicious!!!

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