Kasha is a variety of buckwheat that is very popular in Russia and Poland, whose name is derived from the polish word "Kasza." This grain is also called as buckwheat groats and is typically triangular in shape with a sharp tip and a square base. The grain can be cooked just like rice to create a porridge that is served as a breakfast dish in many European counties. However, there are many varieties of the grains that are sold commercially. For example, the grains are sold raw, whole, and sometimes toasted or dry baked. The grains are usually slightly bitter, but toasting them in oil or dry baking them improves the flavor considerably.
History of Kasha Grains
Kasha, origin and history, is very vague, but it is commonly grown in Russia, Poland and neighboring countries. The seed is very cheap, easy to grow and is highly nutritious and could be one of the reasons why it became so popular as a breakfast dish. A legend states that the dish was first introduced by Alexander Nevsky in Novgorod in the Russian court in 1200s. The royal court loved the taste of the dish and it was very popular with the king. Over time, the dish became a traditional Russian food and was cooked by every household. The ingredient was a staple of the Russian Army too due to it high nutritional content. The ingredient was cooked into a large variety of sweet, savory as well as bland dishes that were ideal for any palate. The ingredient also has a Yiddish background where it is cooked for breakfast in Jewish households but it is referred to as kasha-varnishkes.
Culinary Uses of Kasha Grains
Russian Kasha is made from buckwheat which is a fruit seed but there are several versions where the porridge is cooked with barley, millet, rye, wheat etc.
Cuisines Using Kasha
Kasha is a popular dish that is cooked in Russian, Polish, and Eastern European countries as a breakfast porridge dish.
Kasha Recipes: Preferable Cooking Methods
· Boiling is the preferred method for cooking the grain. The uncooked grains can be toasted and then soaked in boiling water or milk to create the dish.
· Absorption method is used to cook the grains but it is little labor intensive. The grains are cooked in a set amount of water that is completely absorbed as the porridge cooks.
· Steaming the grains is also possible to produce porridge but this process is not really recommended for beginner cooks.
Popular Kasha Recipes
· Traditionally, the grain is cooked with milk or water to create porridge. The same porridge can be savory or sweet or bland according to personal tastes.
· “Kupecheskaya” is a traditional festive occasion dish that is cooked in Russia. Here the buckwheat is cooked and then hard boiled eggs, mushrooms and salt are added to taste. Mayonnaise is served as an accompaniment.
· Guryevskaya is a sweet version where the porridge is cooked and nuts, almonds, sugar, jam, lemon pulp, licorice, and vanilla are added. This is served chilled and in a very thick version that can be cut into cakes. A fruit puree or juice is served with it.
· Guryevskaya country style is cooked with water, beef liver, onions, eggs and onions and is a savory version.
· In Jewish households, the grain is cooked with eggs, and pasta and mince to form a non-vegetarian version.
Kasha Recipes: Nutritive Value
Kasha is a very healthy ingredient as it is a full grain. The grains are cooked into the dish and artificial ingredients are not added to the grain. The grain is low in sodium and fat and contains no cholesterol which makes it ideal for dieters and for high cholesterol patients. The grain is also gluten free which makes it an ideal grain for gluten-intolerant patients. The grain is rich in vitamins, fibers, and phytochemicals that make it an ideal food for vegetarians and health enthusiasts. It is a rich source of Alpha-Linolenic Acid and phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. It also has low glucose levels which make it healthy for diabetics.
Buying and Storing Tips for Kasha Grains
Kasha is sold online and through specialist vegan food stores. The grain can be stored for a long time in a tightly closed glass jar.
Kasha Dish: Trivia
Traditionally, kasha is served with a bowl of hot borsch with garlic, beer or wine and a big piece of warm black rye bread.