I did not really want to cook meat this week. Central Asian cuisine being very focused on lamb, I didn’t pick Kazakhstan by chance.
Indeed, buckwheat porridge looks very much like the couscous with dried fruits that my maternal grandmother used to make and that was as much my Proust’s madeleine as Mike’s grandmother’s pkaila. I have to say it was really just visual as it didn’t taste anything like my grandmother’s recipe!
Until today, I only knew Kazakhstan through the movie Borat, the character of the film of the same name masterfully played by British actor Sacha Baron Cohen. I know, I’m easy! It is true that Borat, the homophobic, sexist, racist and anti-Semitic character gives a somewhat grotesque image of Kazakhstan hinting that the country is backward and barbaric. Needless to say, I really knew nothing about Kazakhstan.
We learned in Mike’s khorkhog recipe from Mongolia that Kazakhstan was the largest landlocked country in the world. While doing more research, I also learned that Borat got all of us wrong. Indeed, one of the most important words in Kazakhstan is қонақжайлық or HOSPITALITY! Hospitality is a common practice in this country and careful observance of the laws of hospitality is usually around a table. Kazakhs take as much pleasure hosting as they take eating. And I thought I was born in “the” country where hospitality is second to none…
But let’s get back to our buckwheat. Buckwheat is a plant native to China. It was introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages via Russia. Today, Kazakhstan is one of the main producers of buckwheat along with China and Ukraine.
Like quinoa, buckwheat is called a pseudocereal, because unlike conventional grain, it does not belong to the poaceae family. It is more specifically gluten-free and higher in protein. However, it is eaten as a cereal.
In France, we know this ingredient mainly because of the well-known buckwheat crepes from Brittany. But buckwheat is also present in some Asian specialties, especially in Japan where they serve a buckwheat tea called soba-cha but also in China, where the pseudocereal is mostly used for medical purposes.
You can’t go wrong with dried fruits in my book. I regularly use them in my cooking, whether in savory or sweet recipes. Enjoy!
- 1 cup buckwheat groats , toasted or not
- 1 oz. dried apricots
- 2 tablespoons currants
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 1 oz pecans
- 4 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 4 tablespoons honey
Wash the buckwheat and place in a saucepan.
Pour 2 quartes of cold water and cook buckwheat for 20 minutes. Bring to a boil and lower heat.
Meanwhile, cut the apricots into small pieces, mix with raisins and pour boiling water to rehydrate.
Pour a little boiling water over poppy seeds, let stand 10 minutes, and mix to form a paste.
Drain the apricots and raisins.
Mix all ingredients after keeping a few dried fruits for garnishing.
Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.