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Moor's dough, more commonly referred to by its Spanish name, mazamorra, is a Latin American food made from maize. Maize is derived from sweet corn or hominy, then cooked until soft to create mazamorra. Depending on the culture, the dish typically appears much like a cornmeal porridge or grits, although it is also served as a non-alcoholic beverage in some countries. A versatile maize-based food, Moor's dough is served in innumerable recipes for different porridges, side dishes, and desserts, or as a beverage.
Coming from a crop original to the Americas, maize-based mazamorra did not appear in Spanish culture until after the discovery of the New World. Prior to early colonization and export of maize to Europe, maize-based dishes were predominantly found in cultures such as the Aztecs and Incas. Today, mazamorra is a traditional Latin American food, common to Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and other Latin American countries.
Base mazamorra is often sold by street vendors in countries like Colombia. Consisting of crushed, softened maize boiled in water with fern ash or baking soda, shoppers use the base to create traditional family desserts, midday meal side dishes, or drinks. In some cultures, the base, or peto, became a dietary staple to combat starvation during famines or other food shortages. Over the centuries, peto became a traditional food.
In Peru, a popular preparation of mazamorra, known as mazamorra morada, is served as a dessert. Using purple maize indigenous to Peru, the corn is cooked with water, fruit such as pineapple, cinnamon, and other ingredients to produce a purple jelly. The dish is especially popular in Lima and other metropolitan areas of Peru.
Mazamorra Colombiana is served both as a side dish or dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage in Colombia. White maize or hominy is cooked in water until very soft, doughy balls form. Served with both corn and broth, the dish is typically accompanied by panela. Panela is a sweet sugarcane cake, very similar to brown sugar, used to sweeten desserts or dip into broths. The broth from mazamorra Colombiana is considered an after-dinner drink, often sweetened from dipping panela in to scoop up the soft balls of corn.
In Puerto Rico, mazamorra is served as a cornmeal porridge. Rather than cooking the maize in water, it is cooked in milk. Corn starch is added to thicken the porridge. Toppings such as cinnamon or fresh fruit are not uncommon, especially when served at meals early in the day.