|Main ingredients||Cereal (buckwheat, wheat, barley, oats, millet or rye)|
In the English language, kasha is a term for the pseudocereal buckwheat. In Central and Eastern Europe, especially in Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine, kasha is a dish made of any kind of grains boiled in water or milk, i.e. a porridge.
The largest gross consumption per capita is in Russia, with 15 kg (33 lb) per year followed by Ukraine, with 12 kg (26 lb) per year. The share of buckwheat in the total consumption of cereals in Russia is 20%.
The word generally refers to roasted whole-grain buckwheat or buckwheat groats. However, in Slavic Europe, it refers to porridge in general and can be made from buckwheat or any cereal wheat, barley, oats, millet and rye. At least 1,000 years old, kasha is one of the oldest known dishes in Central European and Eastern European cuisine.
In Russian, buckwheat is referred to formally as гречиха (grechikha) and buckwheat grain and buckwheat groats as гречневая крупа (grechnevaya krupa). Informally, buckwheat grain and buckwheat groats are called гречка (grechka), and gretshkes/greytshkelach or retshkes/reytshkelach in Yiddish. The porridge made from buckwheat groats is known as гречневая каша (grechnevaya kasha).
In Polish, boiled buckwheat groats are referred to as kasza gryczana. Kasza can mean any kind of porridge as well as being a reference to a variety of cereal such as millet (kasza jaglana) or pearl barley (kasza jęczmienna perłowa). Annual (2013) per capita consumption of groats in Poland is approx. 1.56 kg (3.4 lb) per year (130 g (4.6 oz) a month). The Czech cognate kaše (Czech pronunciation: [kaʃɛ] has a wider meaning, also encompassing mashed potato (bramborová kaše), pease pudding (hrachová kaše) etc.
In Russian culture
Kasha is one of the Russian national dishes, together with shchi. Kasha is commemorated in the Russian saying, "щи да каша – пища наша" (shchi da kasha – pishcha nasha) literally "shchi and kasha are our food" or, more loosely, "cabbage soup and porridge are what we eat". The expression has an existential meaning as well; implying "it doesn't matter what happens in Russia at large, we still live the same way."
The types of Russian kasha: savory (with salt) or sweet (with salt and sugar); with water or milk used as a base; liquid, viscous and thick.
The most loved in Russia is crumbly buckwheat kasha (consisting of buckwheat, water and salt) seasoned with butter. Buckwheat kasha can be used at any meal, either as a dish in itself, or a side dish. It is often served with fried onions as an adult meal while children love it with milk poured into the plate.
Other popular kashas are millet one, semolina one (манная каша) and oatmeal. Cooked with milk and sugar, they are often seen as staple meals for children.
Butter is a necessary ingredient in most kashas. Hence the Russian saying, "you'll never spoil kasha with a lot of butter".
In Jewish culture
As an Ashkenazi-Jewish comfort food, kasha is often served with onions and brown gravy on top of bow tie pasta, known as kasha varnishkes. Kasha is a popular filling for knishes and is sometimes included in matzah-ball soup.
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