Semolina Porridge (Cream of Wheat) – A Beginner’s Guide
Tejbegríz, semolina porridge, semolina pudding, Grießkoch, Grießbrei, griesmeelpap, mannagrynsgröt, and sometimes “Cream of Wheat”, this is a porridge dish commonly eaten for breakfast in Europe, especially by children, and sometimes as a dessert in both Europe and outside of Europe.
All these different names and regional variations are confusing… I actually used to think this was a Hungarian dish because my mother used to make it for me for breakfast when I was a kid, and so I grew up thinking it came from Hungary because it was called tejbegríz and we never called it anything else. Turns out it’s a type of porridge; very similar to grits or polenta, except it uses semolina instead of cornmeal. In fact, outside of the US, grits is referred to as semolina with no distinction between the type of grain unless explicitly specified. This is way too confusing and so I’ll stop talking about it. Let’s keep things simple… A rose by any other name, this dish is made from semolina; the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used to make Italian pasta, commonly enriched and packaged as a hot breakfast cereal in North America under the name “Cream of Wheat”. (´･ω･`)
So some people cook “cream of wheat” with milk, some with water. Some people make it sweet by adding sugar and/or fruits, others may make it savoury and add cheese and/or butter or even eggs. As for me, I like to first make it plain without adding any sugar, then allow whomever I’m serving to top/sweeten with whatever they’d like, and this includes myself. My typical toppings include canned sour cherries, apricot jam, chopped bananas, cocoa powder mixed with sugar, fresh berries, chopped walnuts, and most notably: a generous drizzle of my homemade chocolate syrup. ヽ(*≧ω≦)ﾉ
Ingredients per serving
1/4 cup semolina*
1 cup milk**
a pinch of salt
(optional) lemon zest***
That’s your basic recipe, no sugar, not yet…
1. Add semolina with a pinch of salt to a saucepan set to medium-high and pour on your cold milk.****
2. Stir in your lemon zest. Continue to cook stirring occasionally, breaking up any lumps that may form until it starts bubbling, then keep cooking stirring vigorously and constantly until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and pour onto a plate or into a bowl immediately. It will continue to cook and thus thicken as it cools, so don’t thicken it up too much in the saucepan.
3. If served on a plate, tilt the plate around spreading it out nice and evenly before it gets too thick so you have room to drizzle on your chocolate syrup~! ＼(^ω^＼)
4. Served topped with whatever you like!
*Coarse semolina, not durum wheat semolina/flour. It’s sometimes packaged as cream of wheat, farina, sooji, malt-o-meal, and the friggen’ list goes on…
**I typically use homemade almond milk. I also sometimes like to use whole milk if I have it on hand, but I don’t always have it on hand so I use almond milk. Keep in mind though; since milk is basically the main ingredient in this dish, whatever milk you use will impact the flavour of your tejbegríz. Almond milk gives it a nuttier taste which in my opinion pairs well with the taste of fruits, jam and honey, while the whole milk is a little bit creamier which would probably pair better with the chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, plain sugar, and also bananas. I highly encourage experimentation!!! ( ^_^)／
***Use lemon zest only if it’ll compliment your topping; I tried it once when my topping was chocolate syrup, bananas and nuts, and it didn’t taste too good…
****Some people heat up the milk first before sprinkling in the semolina, but I always hated that technique! The semolina always had a tendency to clump up requiring me to whisk vigorously to make it smooth. On top of that, milk tends to burn, bubble up and overflow onto the stove if it gets too hot and you’re not paying attention. It just isn’t worth the trouble. I find that adding the milk on top of the semolina is safer, cooks quicker and becomes thicker faster since the semolina has a little time to absorb some milk before it cooks. It also lessons the chance of lumping and allows me to cook with a spoon instead of having to dirty a whisk.
Yeah I know this is supposed to be a simple dish that I’m over-complicating, but I’ve cooked this so many times that I pretty much know ALL IT’S NOOKS AND CRANNIES and I like to get the most out of every meal I have, no matter how simple the dish is… food isn’t just fuel to me, it’s life. ʕ´• ᴥ •`ʔ
Oh and by the way, if you chill this in the fridge before eating, it will thicken up into a solid, almost like a flan, which some people may like even better! Especially on warm summer days, but this is typically served hot during winter, and hot is the way I like it. (´･ω･`)