Kuymak, also known as Mihlama is one of our favourite brunch and appetizer snack dishes from Turkey.
Our homemade Kuymak Mihlama recipe is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under 30 minutes!
The dish is a regional specialty from Turkey’s Black Sea. Its primary ingredients are toasted cornmeal and a local aged cow milk cheese. It is typically served with slices of bread and a spoon for scooping.
It can be served as an appetizer or midday snack but we love it most as a simple and tasty breakfast or brunch dish shared around the table with family and friends.
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What is Kuymak Mihlama?
Kuymak, also known as Mihlama, is a popular breakfast and brunch staple from Turkey’s northern Black Sea region. It’s a delicious blend of local cows milk cheeses that are melted together with toasted coarsely ground cornmeal.
The dish is traditionally cooked in a Turkish sahan, a copper pot or pan featuring two handles (similar to a Spanish paella pan). It can also be prepared in a non-stick skillet and then served in your favourite shallow baking dish.
The melted cheese dish is typically served with slices of freshly baked sourdough bread, which are used to scoop up the soft cheese mixture with fingers or a spoon.
The dish is known to locals in the city of Trabzon as kuymak (pronounced kooy-mak), and mihlama (pronounced mih-lah-mah) in the northeastern provinces of Erzurum and Bayburt. It is also known by a slightly different name in Rize and Artvin, where it is pronounced mooh-lah-mah. In Giresun and Ordu it can be found on local restaurant menus as yağlaş (pronounced yah-lahsh).
It is also popular in Georgia, Azerbaijan and some regions of Caucasus.
Travel to Turkey by Making Turkish Melted Cheese at Home
I love traveling to the Middle East.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in the Middle East, from authentic markets to award winning restaurants.
For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best authentic Kuymak Mihlama recipe via adventures that had me zig-zagging through Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Dubai.
My fondest memories spooning through bowls of Turkish melted cheese and cornmeal were at decadent breakfasts in the cave town of Goreme, beach break in Bodrum, ancient city of Ephesus and a culinary walking tour of Istanbul.
Where To Eat Kuymak
If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Middle Eastern or Turkish restaurant that serves traditional Kuymak.
Haven’t traveled to Turkey before? It may be helpful to first sample Mihlama at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the desired thickness of the melted cheese, proportion of cornmeal in the mixture and ideal accompaniments like sliced bread.
In Toronto, popular Middle Eastern restaurants that may offer vegetarian Kuymak include Parallel, Byblos, Tabule, Fat Pasha, Maha’s, Masrawy Kitchen, Paramount Fine Foods, Anatolia, Barans, Meat Point, Sofra Istanbul and Pizza Pide.
My Family Loves Kuymak Mihlama
My family loves eating cheese!
There are over 15-20 different kinds of cheese in our fridge at any time. Slide open our fromage drawer and you’ll surely find bricks, slices and tubs of parmesan, aged cheddar, brie, gouda, raclette, blue cheese, bonnechere, rocinante iberico, Boschetto al Tartufo, Vache Maigre, Chevre Grand Affineur, Gruyere, Morbier, Jarlsberg, Le Cendrillon, Parrano Uniekaas, Le Riopelle de I’Isle, Boursin, Piave Stravecchio, Camebert, Cabriole, Ossau-Iraty Brebis, Gorgonzola, Manchego, Beemster XO and Mimolette.
My parents love to nibble on cheese at lunch alongside gourmet crackers, soups, salads and pickles.
I first ate Kuymak on a road trip of Turkey over a decade ago and immediately fell in love. I wanted to recreate the recipe for my parents who have never traveled to “Istanbul and beyond” so started looking for the recipes basic ingredients.
If you’re cooking Mihlama in Turkey or nearby Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Macedonia or Albania you shouldn’t have a problem finding the correct cheese at your local grocery store or food market.
The key to making authentic Kuymak or Mihlama is finding the correct cheese. Fresh cheeses like feta or ricotta won’t do. Aged cheeses work best as they have melting properties that give the dish its stringy appearance and texture.
Traditional Kuymak or Mihlama is made with Trabzon cheese or kashar cheese. These cheeses are made from unpasteurized milk. Once the milk turns into cheese it is put in containers and doused with boiling water and left until the water cools completely then salted. The cheese is then removed from the water and sliced.
In Oakville, Ontario I visited 6 grocery stores in search of these Turkish cheeses and had no luck. I then reached out to some of my local chef and food stylist friends for help.
There are a few Turkish grocers and food importers in Toronto but I was looking to find something closer to home. I found success in the marvelous multicultural city of Mississauga.
I called 5 local Middle Eastern grocery stores with no luck and then visited Adonis Market, which also has an outpost in Montreal. It’s ranked as the best Middle Eastern grocery store in Canada and had exactly what I needed.
You will not likely find Trabzon cheese in North America but kashar cheese (also known as kasseri) is imported from Turkey and Greece.
Since Mihlama has such a limited number of ingredients it really is imperative to get your hands on one of these cheeses. You can’t replicate the flavour with Gruyere as the flavour profile is very different (although the texture and melting point is similar).
Is Mihlama Vegetarian?
Mihlama is a healthy meat-free brunch dish. It’s a favourite with Turkish vegetarians.
Traditional recipes are not vegan friendly as butter or clotted cream and of course cheese are required to make it.
Kuymak Cooking Tips
This delicious and affordable Turkish brunch recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for novice cooks.
- We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula spoon when making Kuymak so you can easily stir and scrape down the side of the skillet.
- We like to use a high quality nonstick skillet or sahan so the melted cheese easily transfers to a shallow baking dish.
- Traditional Mihlama uses a special coarsely-ground cornmeal that has been baked in an oven before storage. In our recipe we suggest you toast raw cornmeal in a hot skillet to mimic the flavour.
- Another trick is to use raw, unpasteurized Turkish clotted cream called kaymak instead of regular butter. I was surprised and delighted to see that Adonis Market sells this Middle Eastern clotted cream. You can also substitute for British Devon Cream, popularly slathered on scones at Afternoon Tea.
- When cooking mihlama, patience is a virtue. Stir the cheese and the cornmeal and let them melt slowly until the cheese becomes stringy and gummy at once.
- Be sure to have your guests seated at the table as you are melting the cheese on the stove. You don’t want to overcook the cheese and once it is positioned at the table you have to eat it quickly before it cools and starts to stiffen.
What To Serve with Turkish Melted Cheese
We most often serve Turkish Melted Cheese & Cornmeal as a hearty brunch or breakfast.
Since the dish is fat and carb heavy it’s best to serve alongside healthy soups or salads like Lamb Dumplings Shish Barak, Turkish Mint Yogurt Corbasi Soup, Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare, Fakes Soupa Healthy Vegetarian Greek Lentil Soup, Lebanese Lentil Soup, Vegetarian Roasted Pumpkin Feta Salad, Roasted Beetroot Salad, Garlic Lemon Chickpea Avocado Salad and Melitzanosalata Greek Eggplant Dip.
After brunch why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.
Storing Kuymak Mihlama
If you have leftover Kuymak don’t fret! You won’t be able to melt the Turkish cornmeal cheese mixture into the same consistency but it can still taste and look great when reheated properly.
We suggest using a sharp knife to slice sections of the cold cornmeal cheese mixture and then place over a slice of fresh bread. Toast in the oven until the bread is crunchy and cheese has melted.
The bubbling cheese topping will likely remind you of Welsh Rarebit.
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Best Turkish Kuymak Mihlama Recipe Video
Kuymak Mihlama: Turkish Melted Cheese and Cornmeal
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- cheese grater
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Bread Knife
- Non-stick skillet
- 6 tbsp Kaymak, Clotted Cream or Unsalted Butter
- 6 tbsp Coarse Cornmeal
- 1 cup Water
- 300 g Trabzon, Kashari or Kasseri Cheese
- 10 slices Sourdough Bread
- Black Pepper to taste
- Pour cornmeal into a dry skillet and over medium heat toast until lightly browned for 3-5 minutes. Do not leave unattended and stir with a wooden spoon to ensure all cornmeal granules are toasted evenly. Pour toasted cornmeal into a bowl and set aside.
- In a large nonstick skillet, melt the kaymak over medium heat. Continue to allow the kaymak to bubble for a few minutes.
- Add the cornmeal and mix into the kaymak with a large wooden spoon.
- Stir the cornmeal for several minutes until it changes color to a deep golden brown.
- When the oil from the kaymak begins to separate, add the water and bring it to a boil. Once the water has reached a boil, slowly add the grated cheese.
- Stir the mixture constantly while adding cheese to allow it to melt and the mixture to develop a smooth texture.
- Let the cornmeal cheese mixture cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until you see the butter rise to the top.
- Serve hot topped with freshly cracked pepper and sourdough bread for scooping.
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