Porridge was Russia’s favorite dish for many a long year, and was originally a staple of ceremonial and ritual occasions. It was consumed during festivities, including banquets, weddings and christenings. That’s why in the 12th-14th centuries the Russian word kasha (“porridge”) was used as a synonym of pir (“feast”).
According to Russian culinary historian William Pokhlebkin, porridge later became a part of any collective meal, especially at harvest time, when people worked together. An artel, or peasant cooperative, was often referred to as a kasha. “We’re in the same porridge” meant to be in one and the same artel or team [compare English slang "porridge" meaning "jail time"].
Since time immemorial, porridge in Russian cuisine has been divided into three main types in terms of consistency: thin gruel (or liquid porridge), gruel (or viscous porridge) and mealy porridge. In times gone by, Russians preferred mealy porridge, as well as thin gruel (especially with fish) as an alternative to soup. Gruel was generally frowned upon and considered neither one thing nor the other, a kind of pseudo-porridge. Each type of porridge differs by the amount of liquid used to cook it. The more liquid (milk or broth), the thinner the result.
Meals in pots are especially suitable for dieters, because they can be cooked without oil. Moreover, food cooked in a pot retains all its nutrients.
Ok. How did we make it?
1) Let’s begin by cutting some meat, onions and carrots.
2) We’ll fry the onions, carrots and meat in a pan. We're gonna use butter, but lard would be better. There’s no point roasting. It’s all got to be done in seven minutes, and then cooked in the oven.
3) We already washed the buckwheat, so now let’s put it in the pot with the meat. It doesn’t have to be buckwheat, mind. You can use pearl barley or millet, whatever you want. You can also substitute the meat for veg.
4) We add laurel leaves and garlic cloves to each pot, plus salt, pepper and two peppercorns. And pour in 200ml of water.
5) We place the pots in the oven at 200 degrees for about 40 minutes to an hour.
Then take them out! Bon appetit!
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