Proja is a type of cornbread made of rustic, stone milled cornmeal, water and salt. It’s commonly mistaken with projara (pronounced pro-ya-ra) which contains many other ingredients, such as wheat flour, eggs, dairy and meat products, vegetables…
You’ll probably ask: “Each country has its own cornbread… so what makes this one so special?” Well, it’s the way this dish is treated in Serbia. I have the impression that Serbian people have made some kind of a cult of it. And I think I understand why…
The proja became popular as a dish during World War II, in times of an extreme poverty. Back then, as well as today, corn was widely grown in Serbia, so the proja was the cheapest and therefore the most affordable meal for everyone. One could say it fed the nation during the war!
However, this dish remained popular to this very day, but now it’s not food of the poor anymore. Today it’s a valued and highly-regarded dish which is part of each festive dining-table, each celebration menu and a very common everyday meal, though projara (its enriched version) is much more popular.
In this post I’ll share with you a recipe for projara, one of the many to come. I’ll leave the recipe for an authentic proja for some future post (for one simple reason – as I already said, projara is nowadays much more popular).
So, here it is: Projara with spinach filling!
If you wish to prepare it as well, these are the ingredients you'll need:
For the batter:
- Prepare the batter first: beat eggs with salt until foamy. Add yogurt, mayo and oil and combine.
- Combine flour, cornmeal and baking soda. Stir in the mixture into the eggs, until smooth. Set aside until the filling is prepared.
3. Bring some water to boiling and blanch the spinach for a minute or two. Drain well and chop it. I would recommend to use strictly fresh, cooked and well drained spinach, not frozen chopped one, as it must be free of liquid as much as it's possible. I've tried this recipe with frozen spinach and believe me, you don't want to get what I did - a pie that can never bake! Frozen spinach was so wet that it made the pie too doughy and I had to throw it eventually...
I, personally, always use feta-style cheese for this recipe.
5. Lightly grease the baking pan (app. 26cm round pan or 20x20cm square one). Pour half of the batter mixture and put the filling over it. Use a spoon to arrange it a bit. It doesn't have to be evenly spread. Cover with the rest of the batter mixture.
6. Bake for about 35 minutes at 200°C, until a toothpick comes out clean and the pie has got a brownish crust.