Polenta/Cornmeal with Djon-Djon, Mayi ak Djon Djon or Mais Moulu avec Djon Djon is a very popular dish in Haiti. The amazing dark color comes from the Haitian mushroom called djon-djon. When the mushrooms are soaked for a long time or boiled, they release a grayish-black coloring giving any dish such as rice, polenta, or veggies stew a distinctive color and flavor.
A few months ago, I wrote a post called “What is Djon Djon” to show the different form that the mushroom is sold. Djon Djon is sold in it natural form (dried) and in cubes. When cooking with cubed djon djon, more than one cube is required for 1 cup of rice or polenta if you want to have that distinctive color. The dish will still be dark in color but the shade will be much lighter than when cooking with the dried djon djon itself. For a more distinctive taste, you may even mix the 2 together if preferred.
Djon Djon is not cheap and may be very difficult to find. If you know where there is a Haitian community where you are located, it will be much easier to find. You may also find it online but again be ready to pay $$ for a small amount of djon djon.
Cooking with djon djon is a delight.
As with all mushrooms you must add spices for the dish to taste better. Mushroom only needs the basic spices, garlic, parsley, thyme, black pepper, salt and a touch of hot pepper if preferred to obtain that ultimate flavor. The combination of these spices is always the same when cooking rice or polenta (cornmeal). Adding chicken broth, vegetable broth or a mixed dried salty spice is not uncommon. It is all about preferences.
One very neat tip I want to share and I believe I have shared it before, is adding ground Flaxseed to polenta (cornmeal). Not only flaxseed is healthy for you, it also keeps the polenta or cornmeal very soft when cold because of its elasticity ability. When a dish of polenta or cornmeal is not hot it becomes a bit hard and somewhat similar to the consistency of a cake; the texture is no longer soft or a bit runny. By adding ground flaxseed, the consistency will still be moist, soft and still enjoyable even after a few hours. You will only need to reheat it for a minute or two before enjoying your polenta or cornmeal dish.
Enjoy a Polenta with Djon Djon today and don’t forget to eat it with avocado, just the way many Haitians love it.
Polenta/Cornmeal with Djon-Djon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 clove garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped finely
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- ¼ cup white onions minced
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 teaspoons salt more may be needed
- 8 cups Djon Djon mushrooms water – made with 2 – 3 cups of djon djon dried mushroom
- 1 cup cornmeal coarse or fine
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 - 2 tablespoon flaxseed meal – optional
- Either soak the djon djon mushrooms in 8 cups of water or boil over low heat for about 10 minutes. Strain mushroom, reserve water and discard of mushrooms.
- In a pot of heavy bottom saucepan, over low to medium heat, add oil and the next 6 ingredients. Sauté for about 2 minutes, add the water from the djon djon and bring to a boil. Adjust seasoning. Slowly add cornmeal/polenta while stirring gently. Add thyme sprig. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Once the water has evaporated, check to see if the cornmeal/polenta is fully cooked. It should have a very soft texture. If not, add water and continue to cook until polenta is fully cooked and most of the water has evaporated. Adjust taste. Remove thyme and cloves before serving. Serve hot