Polenta is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal (ground maize), which can be ground coarsely or finely depending on the region and the texture desired. Polenta is traditionally a slowly cooked dish. It sometimes takes an hour or longer and constant stirring is necessary. The time and labor intensity of traditional preparation methods has led to a profusion of shortcuts.
In South Africa, cornmeal mush is a staple food called “meali pap”; elsewhere in Southern Africa it is called phutu-(pap) or is'tshwala. It is similar to polenta but most often it is not as dense.