If you had asked me a yer ago what buckwheat groats tasted like, I would have given you a blank stare. But fortunately, my experiments with gluten-free food have educated me!
Most people don’t realize that buckwheat is native to Indian cuisine. While its popularity has been more people looking for glutenfree options in flours (like me), buckwheat has been eaten for centuries as a “vrat” or fasting food in India. During fasts, cereals are not eaten by Hindus, and buckwheat or “kuttu” flour is one of the many utilised options.
Buckwheat, surprisingly enough, is a triangular seed from a plant that has nothing to do with wheat. The “wheat” in its name comes from the fact that its flour is used as wheat.
I happened to come across buckwheat groats at my local dal and rice grocer, and was surprised at how easily available it is. But my interest really peaked when my sister in law Roopa sent some kichadi over. (The word khichdi usually refers to a dish from India made of rice and lentils, cooked together until soft, much like gruel, but creamier and spicier. Khichdis can also include vegetables, and on fasting days when rice is not eaten, may be made of tapioca or buckwheat.)
The khichdi she had made looked a subdana (tapioca pearl) kichdi, but was chewier and tastier. The pearls had more flavor. When I called her up to thank her, she revealed it wasn’t tapioca at all – it was buckwheat!
Since then I have been experimenting with buckwheat. Because the groats are hard and dry, they need to be soaked overnight and then boiled before cooking with vegetables and spices. Thought about it too late? Even four hours should do. Once they have been properly soaked, they cook quickly even just pan-boiled (although people do pressure cook the groats.) I personally prefer boiling uncovered in a pan, as this prevents them from getting over mushy! Looking to try something new for Sunday brunch? Try this easy buckwheat kichadi for family, served with plain cold yogurt! I’m sure it will be a hit!
- ½ cup buckwheat groats (whole kuttu) Buy my favourite buckwheat now from Amazon.in
- 2 cups water
- 2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons peanuts
- 3 tablespoons grated coconut
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- asafoetida, a pinch Buy asafoetida now from Amazon.in
- 2 green chilies, sliced in half
- 10 curry leaves
- 1-inch piece peeled ginger, chopped fine
- juice of 1 sliced lime
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- Soak buckwheat within water for 4 hours or overnight.
- Boil uncovered for 15 minutes until tender.
- Boil 2 small potatoes until soft, about 15 minutes, peel and dice.
- Dry roast peanuts in a frying pan until lightly browned. Grind or pound into a coarse powder.
- In a large bowl, combine buckwheat, coconut, turmeric, peanuts, chopped coriander, salt, and red chili powder. Use your hands to mix everything evenly.
- Heat ghee in a wok or large frying pan on medium heat. Add cumin, asafetida, sliced green chilies and curry leaves to the hot ghee. Fry for a minute until cumin changes colour.
- Add ginger and fry for another minute.
- Add buckwheat mixture to the wok, and fry until well combined, about 3 minutes.
- Turn of the heat, combine lime juice and sugar, mix into buckwheat. Serve hot with plain yoghurt.
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
Critical Ingredients: The cumin in the recipe can be replaced by mustard seeds. If you don’t have asafoetida, leave it out, no one will know. Curry leaves add a lot of flavor, but don’t have them and don’t want to buy them – just skip using them. Peanuts will add crunch – I wouldn’t substitute another nut. If you don’t have fresh coconut, you can use unsweetened desiccated coconut by soaking it in a bit of milk to soften it. If you only have sweetened desiccated coconut, use just one tablespoon and skip the sugar at the end. No coriander leaves? Leave them out.