What is Kasha? 

The question, what is kasha, is not one often asked in Europe or Russia, but here in the United States it is fairly common. Kasha is a staple in many countries throughout the world and is most commonly known as porridge, though it has many other uses. Kasha has multiple health benefits, can be prepared in a variety of ways, and is a good source of vitamins and minerals.

What are Whole Grains and is Kasha One of Them

To further answer the question, what is kasha, you may be interested to know that it is actually buckwheat seeds. Buckwheat, despite its name, is a fruit in the family of sorrel and rhubarbs which is surprising since kasha tastes like a grain. Why you ask? Well, a whole grain is a food that contains all of its essential parts, the seed, endosperm, and naturally-occurring nutrients, of the entire grain, all of which remain with the grain even when processed or cooked. The keyword in this definition is “seed” because while Kasha comes from a fruit, it is actually a seed, which makes it a whole grain. Note, however, that while this is true for Kasha, not every seed is a grain.

What is Kasha?: Types of Kasha

To expand on what is kasha you should know that it is not only a hulled buckwheat kernel but can also be cracked or ground into products with different consistencies. If you prefer nuttier flavors, you are most likely to enjoy a coarse, or groat, kasha grind while the finer, or grit, grinds have a less prevalent taste.

Cooking with Grains

Although it is not a grain, cooking Kasha groats is quite similar to the way grains, such as rice, are prepared, as they need to soak to soften and absorb water. To use the groats in place of rice simply simmer two parts water to one part kasha for 15 minutes. The kasha grits are a healthy way to thicken soups or stews as they are far better for you than flour or cornstarch. In general however, kasha may be baked, steamed, boiled, or served in its natural form with a bit of seasoning. Many kasha recipes are available, but one recipe worth trying is Kasha and Bowties, or Varnishkas, if you are eating this staple in Western Europe. To make this traditional dish you need:

POLISH VARNISHKAS (a bowtie pasta recipe)

  • Three-quarters of a cup of kasha
  • A 12 ounce package of bow tie egg noodles or pasta
  • A 14 ounce can of chicken broth
  • Two diced onions
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • A dash of salt and pepper to taste

Begin by pouring the chicken broth and kasha into a saucepan and bringing them to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. In the meantime, fill another pot with water, bring to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook for eight to ten minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water. Place a skillet over medium heat and add in the oil and onions, cooking seven to ten minutes or until lightly browned. Add in the pasta, kasha, salt, and pepper, stir, and serve to taste what is kasha and its delicious flavors.


HUNGARIAN VARNISHKAS

  • 1 Cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 Beaten egg
  • 2 Cups chicken broth
  • 1 Chopped onion
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup cooked noodles
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Sauté onion with butter and salt; mix buckwheat kernels and egg and add to onions.
Add liquid and bring to a boil; cover tightly, lower heat and cook 15 minutes.
Add cooked noodles; serve as a side dish.


HOW TO MAKE KASHA BURGERS

  • 3 Tablespoons butter (or more)
  • 3 Cups chopped onions
  • 3 Cups chopped portobello mushrooms
  • 2/3 Cup white wine
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ Teaspoon dried sage
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 Cup kasha
  • 3 Tablespoons flour (Plus more for shaping burgers)


Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet; sauté onions over medium heat until they begin to brown.

Add mushrooms and 1 more tablespoon butter; stir and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add wine, water, thyme, sage, soy, pepper and kasha.

Bring mixture to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

When grains are tender and water is absorbed, dump into a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Stir in 3 tablespoons flour until blended; with well floured hands shape mixture into 4 patties.

In large skillet melt remaining butter over medium heat; brown patties on both sides.

NOTE: Add more butter or some oil if needed to brown all patties.

Serve with sliced onions, tomatoes and lettuce on buns.


So, what is kasha you asked; it is a good for you, wholesome, nutritional, and tasty fruit that can be consumed in a number of ways. It is a product that other cultures have enjoyed eating for centuries and is something that Americans should consider as part of their diet to sustain a healthier lifestyle.

› Kasha

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