Kasha Paprikash and My Certificate in Yiddishkeit

If you don’t know what kasha is, it is buckwheat kernels roasted to a rich dark brown. People eat it for breakfast, cooked like oatmeal, or for dinner, cooked into something like pilaf. My mom learned to cook it from one of her best friends and made it for us every once in a while. It’s really good and tastes like nothing else.

Kasha is one of those foods that’s intimately associated with Eastern European Jewish cuisine, and growing up, most of our family’s friends were also intimately associated with Eastern European Jewish cuisine.

Years ago, Mrs. D, one of these longtime family friends, asked how my daughter was doing in karate class. I had just that past weekend been to her karate competition, where I watched my girl get the better of her opponents, all boys. I told Mrs. D that I had felt so happy and proud that I thought I would burst.

“There’s a word in Yiddish for that,” she said. “You were kvelling.”

Last week, I saw her son’s name in a magazine, and I called her up yesterday to tell her I had seen it.
“I called because I wanted to give you a chance to kvell,” I said.
“I love the way you say it,” she said. “It’s like you’ve earned your certificate in Yiddishkeit!”

I felt like kvelling.

Kasha Paprikash

1 large leek, white and pale green parts, sliced thin, washed well, and drained
1 cup finely chopped celery and some leaves, too
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
beef broth (14.5 ounce can)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup kasha, coarse granulation
2 teaspoons minced parsley
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Cook leeks, celery and garlic in butter with paprika, stirring until vegetables are softened. Stir in broth, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Stir in kasha; cook covered 12 min. or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Let it sit for 3 min., and then stir in the yogurt.

Serves 4-6 as side dish – 2-3 as main course.


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