Buckwheat: grain or seed? Kasha! Гречка!
Updated: Feb 27, 2018
Buckwheat groats, aka гречка, or roasted buckwheat grains while called grains, are actually a seeds. While as a grain they mainly consist of carbohydrates, but being a high in protein they are behaving more like a seeds. Some people (like me) claim that with buckwheat kasha, one can loose a lot of weight, and its excellent for diabetics because it has a low glycemic index, and is much healthier then rice. Plus - it's gluten free!
Buckwheat groats are known for 8000 years. Its believed that it was originated in Northern China and "traveled" through the Asia and Europe. It is a very popular product in East Europe, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus. Buckwheat grows well in the cold climates, acid soils, survive through tough weather and high attitude like the mountains of Tibet.
What goes well with Buckwheat groats, or Kasha:
To the newcomer, buckwheat might have an unusual taste and scent. The good news is - it's not as tricky to wash, soak or cook as quinoa for example. Usually we serve kasha as a side dish with meat & gravy, saute mushrooms and onions, Beef Stroganoff and other type of entries. Some people like it in salads. Others enjoy in a soup. Flour from buckwheat is also a popular product making crepes or other baked stuff. Japanese people like Soba noodles made out of buckwheat. In my homeland, Armenia, our parents would often buy buckwheat honey (It was darker and too bitter to my taste), but as we way in Russian, на вкус и цвет товарища нет, in our case it means if did not like buckwheat honey, other people went just crazy about it. And still are!
If you ask around - everyone has their favorite ways of eating buckwheat (#foodporno that is). I love my Kasha SWEET! I mix it with our #GoldenHexHoney or Agave sweetener, and if desired, add some milk. It's my most favorite way of eating kasha - while everyone enjoys it as a dinner entry, I am just having a dinner as a desert!
How to cook Kasha?
Think of it the same way as cooking rice. For one cup of pre-clean kasha (just make sure there are no black pieces or dirt), add two cups of water. Some people first "roast" it with a bit of butter (before water is added). That helps it to have a bit different texture, like a steamed rice
I don't like "complicated" cooking. It's time consuming and takes an extra babysitting of the pot. Add a teaspoon of butter to the cup of buckwheat and water plus pinch of salt. Once kasha starts boiling, lower the temperature to low setting and wait till water stops seeping. That's about 15-20 min MAX. Then place the dish into microwave (still covered) and let it "seat" there in a "microwave closet" so grains become tender. It's very important to me to wait after cooking kasha because I love particular texture of the grain. Sometimes I put a clean towel over that dish. Adding a bit of butter, truffle oil or olive oil makes it softer. That's it! See how easy that is - just add twice water, turn on your timer, and eureka! Delicious and nutritious!
When I am too lazy though, I just do with them what many do with oats. Soak them overnight (less water) and next morning they are perfect! Although that "style" of cooking does not fly well with my hubby as he immediately senses the difference between cooked and the soaked buckwheat.
Different types of buckwheat
We, East Europeans, are very used to the roasted type of buckwheat. And we can tell a difference from a good buckwheat vs bad one. Bad to me are the over-roasted and small grains, that have a hard time cooking. They can also smell *old*.
Whole Foods sells green buckwheat which are unroasted. If you wish to sprout them instead, soak grains for 1-2 hours and after draining all water, wash them couple of times within one day. By the time I finished writing the blog, I felt hungry and made some buckwheat. Hope you will too!
PS: Golden Hex Foods carries variety of the buckwheat. 6 different kinds at the time of writing this blog. All the brands featured in this blog are for sale. Come, explore and enjoy!
- Lilia aka Devishnik -