Porridge is a food made by heating or boiling ground, crushed or chopped starchy plants, typically grain, in milk or water. It is often cooked or served with added flavourings such as sugar, honey, (dried) fruit or syrup to make a sweet cereal, or it can be mixed with spices, meat or vegetables to make a savoury dish. It is usually served hot in a bowl, depending on its consistency. Oat porridge, or oatmeal, is one of the most common types of porridge. Gruel is a thinner version of porridge.
Type of grains
Cooked oatmeal in a bowl
The term "porridge" is often used specifically for oat porridge (oatmeal), which is typically eaten for breakfast with salt, sugar, fruit, milk, cream or butter and sometimes other flavourings. Oat porridge is also sold in ready-made or partly cooked form as an instant breakfast.
A 2014 review found that daily intake of at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan lowers total and low-density lipoproteincholesterol levels by 5–10% in people with normal or elevated blood cholesterol levels. Beta-glucan lowers cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol production, although cholesterol reduction is greater in people with higher total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in their blood. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration issued a final ruling in 2015 stating that food companies can make health claims on food labels for products containing soluble fiber from whole oats (oat bran, oat flour and rolled oats), noting that 3.0 grams of soluble fiber daily from these foods may reduce the risk of heart disease. To qualify for the health claim, the food that contains the oats must provide at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving.
Colada, a hot dish prepared with corn starch, milk, sugar and cinnamon in Colombia and Ecuador.
Cornmealmush, a traditional dish in southern and mid-Atlantic US states.
Cornmeal porridge (parrige), a traditional dish served for breakfast throughout the Caribbean and among Rastafarians. A blend of fine semolina with milk or water and often with all spice and sugar.
Farina or papilla, a traditional Dominican dish of porridge maize or grass peas.
Gachas, a Spanish porridge of maize or grass peas. Often garnished with roasted almonds and croutons of bread fried in olive oil.
Gofio, a Canary Islands porridge of toasted coarse-ground maize. Made from roasted sweetcorn and other grains (e.g., wheat, barley or oats), used in many ways in parts of the world from which Canary Islanders have emigrated.
Grits, ground hominy, is common in the southern United States, traditionally served with butter, salt and black pepper. Sometimes, it is also served with cheese.
Polenta, an Italian maize porridge which is cooked to a solidified state and sliced for serving.
Rubaboo is made from dried maize and peas with animal fat and was a staple food of the Voyageurs.
Shuco, a Salvadoran dish of black, blue or purple corn flour, ground pumpkin seeds, chili sauce and red cooked kidney beans, which was traditionally drunk out of a hollowed-out gourd at early morning, especially coming from a hunting or drinking trip.
Suppawn, also called, and better known as, hasty pudding, was common in American colonial times and consisted of cornmeal boiled with milk into a thick porridge. Still eaten in modern times, it is no longer necessarily corn-based.
Uji, a thick East African porridge made most commonly from corn flour mixed with sorghum and many other different ground cereals, with milk or butter and sugar or salt. Ugali, a more solid meal, is also made from maize flour, likewise often mixed with other cereals. These two, under various names, are staple foods over a wide part of the African continent, e.g., pap in South Africa, sadza or isitshwala in Zimbabwe, nshima in Zambia, tuwo or ogi in Nigeria, etc., though some of these may also be made from sorghum.
Žganci, a maize porridge prepared in the Kajkavian countries and Slovenia.
Groats, a porridge made from unprocessed oats or wheat.
Gruel, very thin porridge, often drunk rather than eaten.
Yod Kerc'h, a traditional oat porridge from the north-west of France, primarily Brittany, made with oats, butter and water or milk.
Owsianka, an east European (Russia, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine) traditional breakfast made with hot milk, oats and sometimes with sugar and butter.
Porridge made from rolled oats or ground oatmeal is common in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Finland and Scandinavia. It is known as simply "porridge" or, more commonly in the United States and Canada, "oatmeal". In the US, oat and wheat porridge can both be called "hot cereal". Rolled oats are commonly used in England, oatmeal in Scotland and steel-cut oats in Ireland. In the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, cooks made burgoo for the men for breakfast, from coarse oatmeal and water.
Porridge (Parrige) – Anglophone Caribbean (Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad etc.) Also known as Pap. The most common type is corn meal, and they are always made with milk. Varieties include oatmeal, grated green plantain, barley, cream of wheat, sago (tapioca). Oatmeal porridge is often flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar or almond essence.
Stirabout – Irish porridge, traditionally made by stirring oats into boiling water
Oats for porridge may be whole (groats), cut into two or three pieces (called "pinhead", "steel-cut" or "coarse" oatmeal), ground into medium or fine oatmeal or steamed and rolled into flakes of varying sizes and thicknesses (called "rolled oats", the largest size being "jumbo"). The larger the pieces of oat used, the more textured the resulting porridge. It is said that, because of their size and shape, the body breaks steel-cut oats down more slowly than rolled oats, reducing spikes in blood sugar and making the eater feel full longer. The US Consumer Reports Web site found that the more cooking required, the stronger the oat flavor and the less mushy the texture.
Oats are a good source of dietary fibre; health benefits are claimed for oat bran in particular, which is part of the grain.
The oats are cooked in milk, water or a mixture of the two. Scottish traditionalists allow only oats, water and salt. There are techniques suggested by cooks, such as presoaking, but a comparative test found little difference in the end result. Various flavourings can be used and may vary widely by taste and locality. Demerara sugar, golden syrup, Greek yoghurt and honey are common. Cold milk or single cream may be used.
Champorado, a sweet chocolate rice porridge in Filipino cuisine. It is traditionally made by boiling sticky rice with cocoa powder, giving it a distinctly brown color and usually with milk and sugar to make it taste sweeter.
Congee, a common East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian dish of boiled-down rice:
In Bangladesh congee is prepared simply as a porridge, Whole rice (not parboiled, scented or unscented) with a bit of salt, it is known as "Jao" eaten as wholesome diet for the sick. Added date tree sugar and garam masala it is called "Kheer", Or, cooked with Sugar, Milk, nuts & raisins, cardamom, Cassia, cinnamon, Indian bay leaf, etc. it is called "Paiesh". Both "Kheer" & "Paiesh" are eaten as Dessert.
In Sri Lanka congee is prepared with many ingredients. As a porridge, Sinhala people mainly use coconut milk with rice flour, it is known as "Kiriya."
Indonesian and Malaysian congee, called bubur, comes in many regional varieties, such as bubur sumsum, made from rice flour boiled with coconut milk then served with palm sugar sauce; and also bubur manado or tinutuan, a rice porridge mixed with various vegetables and eaten with fried salted fish and chili sauce. There is also congee made from mung beans, called bubur kacang hijau or congee with chicken called bubur ayam
Japanese congee, called kayu, is mixed with salt and green onions. Often accompanied with variety of foods such as tsukemono (preserved vegetables), shiokara (preserved seafoods) and so on.
Korean congee, called juk, can have added seafood, pine nuts, mushrooms, etc.
Thai congee, called "khao tom" (ข้าวต้ม), or "Jok" (โจ๊ก), can have added coriander, preserved duck eggs, fish sauce, sliced chili peppers, pickled mustard greens or salt cabbage preserves, red pepper flakes, etc.
Filipino congee, called lugaw or arroz caldo, contains saffron, ginger and sometimes meat. Less common ingredients include boiled eggs, pepper, chilies, puto, lumpiang toge, tofu, fish sauce, calamansi sauce, toyo and spring onions. It is common as a street food.
Mannapuuro, a traditional Finnish dessert made with semolina.
Semolina porridge, eaten in Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia, is made of milk, semolina and sugar.
Sour cream porridge, a Norwegian porridge of wheat flour in cooked sour cream with a very smooth and slightly runny texture. It is served with sugar, cinnamon, cured meats or even hard-boiled eggs depending on local custom.
Genfo is a thick porridge made by lightly roasting, milling and cooking any combination of Ethiopian oats, wheat, barley, sorghum, millet, maize, chickpeas, yellow peas, soybeans, or bulla, the starch from the root of the false banana tree; it is traditionally eaten for breakfast with a dollop of clarified, spiced butter (kibe) or oil and chili-spice mix berbere, or with yoghurt. For those who can afford it, it is a popular holiday or Sunday breakfast dish and is often given to pregnant women and women after birthing to bring them back to health and strength.
Atmit, Muk or Adja is a thinner version of Genfo porridge for drinking, mixed often with spiced, clarified butter, milk and honey, or on its own with a pinch of salt. It is popular in the rainy season and for nursing the sick back to health.
Besso, made of roasted and ground barley is a popular snack for travellers and, in olden times, foot soldiers. The powder is either mixed with a bit of water, salt and chili powder to make a thick bread-like snack or mixed with more water or milk and honey for drinking. The Gurage and other southern tribes in Ethiopia ferment the Besso for a few days with water and a bit of sugar, add a pinch of salt and chili and drink it as a fortifying and energising meal-in-a-drink.
This consists of roasted rice, wheat, roasted gram, jowar, maize, millet, groundnut, cashewnut, corn, barley and ragi and is prepared by roasting all the ingredients individually in a pan without using any ghee or oil, then grinding them together into a coarse powder.
This porridge is described as being rich in protein and good for children.
In Nigeria the words porridge and pottage are synonymous, and it is consumed as a main meal. Nigerian yam porridge/pottage includes tomatoes and other culinary vegetables along with the yam. It may also have fish or other meat.
Historically, porridge was a staple food in much of the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia, and it remains a staple food in many parts of the world, it becoming commonplace in agricultural societies that practice grain cultivation starting from the Neolithic period and onward. The dish has traditionally been closely associated with Scotland, possibly because oats can be successfully cultivated on marginal upland soils. In 1775, Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote that oats were "a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people". Oats were introduced to Scotland in about 600 AD; traces of barley porridge have been found in pots excavated in the Outer Hebrides which have been dated to 2,500 years ago.
Historically, porridge was a staple food in much of Northern Europe and Russia. It was often made from barley, though other grains and yellow peas could be used, depending on local conditions. It was primarily a savoury dish, with meats, root crops, vegetables and herbs added for flavor. Porridge could be cooked in a large metal kettle over hot coals or heated in a cheaper earthenware container by adding hot stones until boiling hot. Until leavened bread and baking ovens became commonplace in Europe, porridge was a typical means of preparing cereal crops for the table.
Porridge was also commonly used as prison breakfast for inmates in the British prison system during the 19th century and early 20th century, and so "doing porridge" became a slang term for a sentence in prison.
^The Danish cultural historian Troels Frederik Lund (1840–1921) published a work later known as "Everyday Life in the North". In his comments (1883) about the development of foods, he highlights porridge as one of the oldest Nordic meals. No other meal is described as frequently as this "from the moment the written sources begun." See: Troels-Lund, Troels Frederik (1883). "Fødemidler". Danmark og Norges Historie i Slutningen af det 16de Aarhundrede [History of Denmark and Norway to the End of the Sixteenth Century] (in Danish). Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzel. ISBN978-1247189857.