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What Is Mazamorra?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By sunshined — On Oct 05, 2011

I have never tasted mazamorra, but it sounds delicious. I love hominy and grits, so have no doubt I would like mazamorra as well. The sweet mazamorra sounds like it would be really good - a light dessert after a heavy meal is always the best.

I enjoy cheese grits with breakfast and always keep a can of hominy on hand. My favorite way to fix this is to add the hominy to some ham, stir in some grated cheese and sour cream and bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Maize is such a versatile food that can be fixed in so many different ways. It also has some good nutritional value and is quite inexpensive as well.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 04, 2011

@ysmina-- That sounds delicious. Two of my close friends are from Colombia and I've had white mazamorra at their house but I haven't tried the purple one yet.

I watched my friend make white mazamorra and it was much easier than I expected. She bought the white hominy all ready to go in a can from the grocery and boiled it with some milk and water. I tasted it at this point without the panela and didn't understand why our dessert wasn't sweet. Then my friend showed me to panela and said that I need to eat the white hominy with it.

It's actually a very light and refreshing dessert. I think it was made that way so that it would help people deal with the heat and it was August when we had this, so it really was perfect. If you get a chance to make this kind of mazamorra, I recommend making it in the summer for dessert or an after-meal drink. I think you will love it.

By ysmina — On Oct 04, 2011

Mazamorra morada is absolutely delicious. I had the chance to have this several times when I was in Peru and I really liked it. It is made from purple corn but the dessert itself was more like a dark maroon color and the texture reminded me a lot of rice pudding. I think the word 'mazamorra' actually means pudding in Spanish and 'morada' probably means purple.

There is also pre-made packets of mazamorra morada in grocery stores and I picked up a couple on my way back. I've already made one, it was really easy, I just had to add water to the mix and boil and simmer on the stove for a while. It wasn't exactly the same thing as the ones I had in Peru, but definitely close enough. I'm hoping that Peruvian and Latin American groceries here carry it too so that I can keep making it when these run out.

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