The word kasha /каша. I know it, but it doesn’t bring up very defined memories of a specific dish. I can only link it to texture and consistency. In my mind it’s something like a very thick soup, with many different ingredients. It’s not specifically sweet or savory, as far as I can recall it. The word poor-men’s-food comes into mind. Unlike other dishes from my past, kasha apparently hasn’t left a strong imprint in my head. Which is strange, because my food memory is very actively present in my daily life, and has always been. Either I didn’t like it, or we didn’t eat it a lot. I’m not sure.
I recently bought this big jar of buckwheat because it’s said that it’s a good addition to a vegetarian diet. It’s high on proteins, and that’s what’s often lacking in a vegetarian diet. I didn’t know how to prepare it though. That’s why I first tried to find out what it was. I became really curious when I saw that most dishes that included buckwheat, were described as kasha. But if I somehow knew kasha, why didn’t I remember the buckwheat at all? It’s a pretty specific type of ‘grain’, that one can’t overlook. No aha-moment here, only vague memories. So my search continued.
Apparently buckwheat isn’t a wheat. I don’t know if I am the only one in the world that didn’t know this, but in case you didn’t as well, I’ll tell you what it is. Buckwheat is part of a herb and is considered a pseudo-cereal, like quinoa and amaranth for example. The herb itself is related to rhubarb. And the triangular shaped buckwheats are the seeds from the herb. Because it isn’t a wheat, it’s a great addition for those of you that don’t (want to) tolerate gluten. Because it’s – tadaa – gluten free! It’s a great replacement for rice in sweet and savoury dishes.
And then kasha. I bought two types of buckwheat. One that said ‘raw buckwheat’ and another one that said kasha or ‘roasted buckwheat’. The roasted ones, could be used as peanuts, with a drink, the description said. But all the recipes described kasha as a dish, as a porridge like dish. In my memory, kasha was a dish as well. Apparently both the roasted buckwheat as the roasted buckwheat porridge are described as kasha. This is how it’s used in American English and this use originates from Jewish immigrants that introduced the word. In the Eastern- and Middle Europe kasha has a broader meaning though, and can refer to any kind of porridge containing any kind of cereal. It’s even the oldest known dish from that part of Europe! It makes me wonder whether porridge in general isn’t the oldest know dish in the biggest part of the world? Anyway, it was time for me to rediscover it again, this kasha now that I know it’s origin and history.
Buckwheat porridge – breakfast kasha
This morning I decided to try making a kasha in the Slavic European kind of way, so not only with buckwheat, but also with other types of cereals. It took me 10 minutes before taking a shower to prepare and 2 minutes after my shower to finish it off. So it was really easy to prepare and it tasted mighty good. The roasted buckwheat gave it a much stronger flavour than regular porridge. It also had a little bit more of a bite than regular porridge. I served it with little pieces of pear. Definitely something we will make more often during this – hopefully cold – winter.
What to get (2 pers.):
– 50gr buckwheat (raw)
– 1/2L milk (I used the regular one, but if you are hard-core, you can replace it with a nut or grain milk)
– 3 tbsp steel cut oats
– 3 tbsp barley flakes
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– 2 tsp honey
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon/pumpkin spices
– 1 tbsp sultana’s
– 1 tbsp goji berries
– 1 tbsp sunflower oil
– 1 tbsp topping material (whatever you want, I used: slices of pear, roasted buckwheat, almond slices & cacao nibs)
What to do:
First thing you need to do is to quickly roast your raw buckwheat. Place the sunflower oil in the pan in which you are going to make the porridge and quickly add the buckwheat when the oil is hot. Stir it around a couple of times. It will turn more brownish and you will start smelling the buckwheat. Then add the milk to the pan and put it to boil. When it’s boiling you can add the oats and barley and the spices. Stir while it’s cooking on a slow fire. You will soon see your milk thicken up. Then add the sultana’s, goji berries and honey and let it cook a little bit longer, while stirring. When it’s almost at the right consistency, you can cut down the fire and leave it for 15 or 20 minutes to settle. When you are ready to eat, you can quickly warm it up and serve it in a nice bowl with the toppings on top.
It’s really a perfect winter breakfast and the buckwheat will keep your appetite satisfied for a long while. As mentioned, I prepared everything before I had my morning shower and finished it off afterwards. Ideally you would also make time for the porridge to settle a bit before you consume it. You can either prepare it on the evening before or first thing in the morning. For me first thing in the morning works well, because I’m not allowed to eat anything in the first hour after I take my morning medicine. You can just adapt it to your schedule and options.