Recently buckwheat has been praised as a super food. While the Western world is re-discovering buckwheat and falling in love with its health benefits, it has long been a favourite staple food in Russia. To Russia buckwheat was introduced from Greece, hence the Russian name for it is Grechka, Grechikha or Grechnevaya kasha (buckwheat porridge). Scroll down for the buckwheat porridge recipes, including stove, microwave, crock pot and even no-cook in food flask method.
Wikipedia states that buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) was widely grown in France and the USA in XVIII-XIX centuries, but then corn and wheat became popular. Russia though has always been the world leader in buckwheat production. Not surprising, buckwheat became widely used and loved by the population in the USSR. There are many ways to cook buckwheat, mostly in a form of porridge (kasha), or pancakes (blini), or goose or duck stuffing as a holiday meal.
The health benefits of buckwheat include a high quality protein, high concentration of all essential amino acids, high amount of iron, zinc and selenium as well as antioxidants. Buckwheat does not contain gluten. At the moment buckwheat is going through a number of medical studies for treating type 2 diabetes, obesity and some other conditions and it looks promising.
I’ve noticed that there are many new interesting recipes of buckwheat porridge, mostly ‘eat clean’ type from ‘health gurus’. They do suggest eating raw (un-roasted) buckwheat for breakfast with some fruit, nuts and berries as a healthy, filling, slow carbohydrate food. I must say that in Russian cuisine, as popular as buckwheat is, it is not eaten frequently for breakfast. In Russia buckwheat is more often used as a garnish for meats and poultry or as a part of vegetarian or lent lunch or dinner meal. Buckwheat porridge is a great garnish to steak, chicken, cutlets and all sorts of sausages. Some also like it on its own with some milk poured on top. And some people even like their buckwheat porridge with soy sauce.
For traditional Russian cooking of buckwheat as a savoury dish it is better to buy good quality roasted (brown) buckwheat then you won’t need to hand-sort it to separate the left over hulls. If you have raw buckwheat (green) and want to cook it the Russian way you can pre-roast the whole package on a dry pan, stirring it regularly, until golden brown. Store the roasted buckwheat in a container in dry cool place and use as much as you need to make a helping of fresh buckwheat porridge.
Always rinse the buckwheat with cold water pouring out some small debris that will be floating on top. Allow 1/4 of cup of uncooked buckwheat per person for buckwheat porridge. I assume you do not have a traditional Russian oven (and who has now?) so you can make buckwheat porridge on the stove, in the oven, in the microwave and in the crock pot. You can even make it in a food flask, see our no-cook recipe.
Buckwheat porridge, no-cook recipe (overnight)
Soak your buckwheat in double the volume of hot boiling water in a food flask (thermos), cover and let sit for 6 hours or overnight. Before serving, add salt and butter to taste, mix.
Buckwheat porridge on the stove (30 minutes)
Cover the buckwheat with double the volume of cold water in the pot and put it on the stove. As soon as the water starts boiling turn down the gas and cover the pot with the lid. Don’t mix the buckwheat! Let cook for 15 minutes. By that time the water should have evaporated. Now turn off the gas and let the buckwheat porridge sit for another 15 minutes. Then salt your buckwheat porridge, mix it and serve.
The real Soviet-babushka’s way to make buckwheat kasha is, after 15 minutes of boiling, to wrap the pot in a couple of blankets and let it sit for a couple of hours in the warmth (they were trying to mimic the effect of the traditional Russian oven). This would make the buckwheat porridge really soft and fluffy. Needless to say, this old folks way you should start cooking in advance.
Buckwheat porridge in the microwave, 10 minutes
Put the buckwheat in the container and add 3 times volume of water. Cover and cook for 5 min at 600 W. Let sit in the MW covered for another 5 minutes. Then add salt, butter and mix.
Buckwheat in the crock pot, 2 hours
Put the buckwheat and twice the volume of boiling water into the crock pot, cover with the lid and keep on ‘keep warm’ regime for a couple of hours. When ready to serve, add salt, butter and mix.
If you have a left over buckwheat porridge warm it up by frying with butter in a pan to make it crispier. Some people actually prefer their buckwheat porridge this way. Enjoy!