Toasted Blue Cornmeal With Mixed Berries & Agave

January 20, 2022
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Photo by Rocky Luten Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine Food Stylist: Adrienne Anderson
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

I talk a lot in my book about the creativity involved in Native American recipes; this classic Navajo porridge is an example of that principle. It takes a common ingredient, cornmeal, and creates a dessert, rather than a savory side dish, a dumpling, or a crust for fish or meat. When I was a kid, I’d eat this sweet cornmeal drizzled with honey, berries, and milk at any time of day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Culinary ash, which Navajos make by burning juniper trees, adds a smoky flavor to the toasted cornmeal and also brightens the blue color. If you don’t like smoke and sweetness together, use baking powder instead. Drizzle with your favorite sweetener to balance the hint of smoke, the nuttiness of the toasted corn, and the tart, fresh berries.

Excerpted with permission from New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian (Abrams Books, 2022) by Freddie Bitsoie & James O. Fraioli.Freddie Bitsoie

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup (120 grams) blue cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons culinary ash or baking powder
  • Whole milk (about 1/2 cup/120 milliliters per serving), for garnish
  • 1 cup (140 grams) mixed fresh berries, for garnish
  • Agave nectar, for garnish
  1. In a medium skillet over high heat, add the cornmeal. Stir constantly until the cornmeal is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepot, add 4 cups (960 ml) water and bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly add the toasted cornmeal and culinary ash while stirring. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to stir until the cornmeal begins to pull away from the sides of the pot. Remove from the heat and serve hot in individual serving bowls topped with milk, berries, and a drizzle of agave nectar.

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