Turkish Melted Cheese and Cornmeal (Mıhlama)

Turkish Melted Cheese and Cornmeal
'Mıhlama' or 'kuymak' is a Turkish Black Sea regional breakfast favorite.

Getty Images

  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
458 Calories
39g Fat
11g Carbs
18g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 458
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g 50%
Saturated Fat 24g 121%
Cholesterol 112mg 37%
Sodium 404mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 18g
Calcium 489mg 38%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A favorite breakfast staple in Turkey’s northern Black Sea region is a delicious blend of local cheeses melted together with coarsely ground cornmeal. It is cooked in sahan, which is a copper pan with two handles (like a paella pan). Pieces of fresh, crusty bread are used to scoop up the mixture with your fingers. This dish is called kuymak (kooy-MAK’) in the city of Trabzon, mıhlama (MIH’-lah-mah) in the northeastern provinces like Erzurum and Bayburt and muhlama (MOOH’-lah-mah) in Rize and Artvin. In Giresun and Ordu it’s called yağlaş (YAH’-lahsh).

The key to authentic mıhlama is the cheese. Fresh cheeses like feta and other Turkish white cheeses won’t do. Aged cheeses work the best, especially the local cheeses from the Black Sea region like Trabzon cheese. High-quality kashar cheese will also work.

These cheeses are made from unpasteurized milk. Once the milk turns to cheese it is put in containers and doused with boiling water and left until the water cools completely. The cheese is then removed from the water and sliced. Sometimes salt is added and the cheese is frozen for future use.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter (unsalted
  • 6 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 ounces/300 grams Trabzon village cheese (grated, or Turkish string cheese or Kashar cheese)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a copper sahan or frying pan, melt the butter completely. Continue to allow the butter to bubble for a few minutes without letting it burn.

  3. Add the cornmeal and work the butter all the way through with a large wooden spoon.

  4. Stir the cornmeal gently over the heat for several minutes until it changes color to a deep golden brown.

  5. When the oil from the butter begins to separate out, add the water and bring it to a boil.

  6. Once the water boils, slowly add the grated cheese.

  7. Stir the mixture well each time to allow the cheese to melt and the mixture to become smooth each time.

  8. As you stir, the melted cheese will combine with the cornmeal.

  9. Let it cook over a low flame, stirring occasionally until you see the butter appear on the top.

  10. Serve hot with fresh, crusty bread to scoop it with and enjoy.

Recipe Tips

  • In authentic ‘mıhlama’ a special kind of coarsely-ground cornmeal is used that has been baked in the oven before storage. You can also toast raw cornmeal in a hot skillet before using it to mimic this flavor.
  • Another trick is to use raw, unpasteurized village butter or Turkish clotted cream called kaymak (kai-MAK’) in place of regular butter.
  • When cooking your mıhlama, you must be patient. Stir the cheese and the cornmeal and let them melt slowly until the cheese becomes stringy and gummy at the same time. Never prepare mıhlama in a rush.
  • This dish is best served hot and fresh. Reheating mıhlama doesn’t work.

Turkish Breakfasts

If you love a good breakfast, then you have to try traditional Turkish breakfast fare. A classic Turkish breakfast, better known as kahvaltı (kah-VAHL'-tuh), consists of fresh Turkish cheeses like feta and kashar, black and green olives, fresh-baked white bread, fruit preserves, honey, sweet butter, and plenty of brewed black tea served in Turkish tea glasses. Spicy Turkish sausage called sucuk and eggs cooked in a copper skillet, omelets, and Turkish scrambled eggs called menemen are also popular.