I recently cooked with buckwheat for the firs time, so I explored how buckwheat has been used around the world. Thanks to Wikipedia for most of the information.
Buckwheat has played an important role in diets around the world, mainly in Asia and Eastern Europe for around 8,000 years. It is neither a grain popular with bucks or a relative of wheat, but rather, its seeds so closely resemble the much larger seeds of the beech tree that the plant has been called “beech wheat,” or buckwheat, ever since.
Did you know that soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour? Buckwheat flour is mixed with wheat flour to produce these Japanese noodles. The buckwheat flour content ranges from 50% to 80% depending on the type of noodle produced. In fact buckwheat noodles have been eaten by people from Tibet and northern China for centuries, as wheat can not be grown in the mountain regions. A special press made of wood is used to press the dough into hot boiling water when making buckwheat noodles. Old presses found in Tibet and Shanxi share the same basic design features.
Buckwheat noodles also play a major role in the cuisines of Korea and the Valtellina region of Northern Italy. In Korea, noodles)were widely made from buckwheat before it was replaced by wheat. The difficulty of making noodles from flour with no gluten has resulted in a traditional art developed around their manufacture by hand. Buckwheat pasta is also made in Italy and is loved by people with gluten free diets.
Buckwheat “grains”, or groats, are commonly used in western Asia and eastern Europe. Buckwheat porridge is common, made from roasted groats cooked with broth to a texture similar to rice or bulgur. The dish was brought to America by Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish immigrants who called it kasha, and they mixed it with pasta or used it as a filling for cabbage rolls, knishes, and blintzes. The groats can also be sprouted and then eaten raw or cooked.
Buckwheat pancakes, sometimes raised with yeast, are eaten in several countries. They are known as buckwheat blinis in Russia, galettes in France, ployes in Acadia, and boûketes (which are named after the buckwheat plant) in the Wallonia region of Belgium. Similar pancakes were a common food in American pioneer days. They are light and foamy. The buckwheat flour gives them an earthy, mildly mushroom-like taste. In Ukraine, yeast rolls called hrechanyky are made from buckwheat. Buckwheat flour is also used to make Nepali dishes such as dhedo and kachhyamba.
You might like our Mediterranean Buckwheat Salad.
Buckwheat in India
In India, on Hindu fasting days (Navaratri, Ekadashi, Janmashtami, Maha Shivaratri etc.), fasting people in northern states of India eat items made of buckwheat flour. Eating cereals such as wheat or rice is prohibited during such fasting days. However, since buckwheat is not a cereal, it is considered acceptable for consumption during Hindu fasting days. While strict Hindus do not even drink water during their fast, others just give up cereals and salt and take a meal prepared from non-cereal ingredients such as buckwheat (kuttu). The preparation of buckwheat flour varies across India. The famous ones are kuttu ki puri (buckwheat pancakes) and kuttu pakoras (potato slices dipped in buckwheat flour and deep-fried in oil). In most of northern and western states, buckwheat flour is called kuttu ka atta.