AskDefine | Define Kasha

Dictionary Definition

kasha n : boiled or baked buckwheat

User Contributed Dictionary



From каша.


  1. A porridge made from boiled buckwheat or other cereals.
    • 2005: Kristina Pankofska, a Polish exile whom Anna Petrovna paid a gold rouble a month to clean and help, arrived with a pail of hot kasha and two new eggs. — James Meek, The People's Act of Love (Canongate 2006, p. 171)

Extensive Definition

Kasha is a porridge commonly eaten in Eastern Europe. In English, kasha generally refers to buckwheat groats, but in Slavic countries, kasha refers to porridge in general, and can be made from any cereal, especially buckwheat, wheat, oats, and rye. It is one of the oldest known dishes in Eastern European cuisine, at least a thousand years old.


The meaning of the word kasha in Slavic languages does not refer specifically to buckwheat groats, but a whole family of porridges (although buckwheat porridge was one of the earliest known examples of kasha). This Slavic variety of porridge has been described as "infinitely flexible - served sweet or savoury, a meal unto itself, or as a side dish".
The word "kasha" (from Polish Kasza or Russian каша) in modern American English is commonly restricted to roasted whole-grain buckwheat or buckwheat groats. It is a common filling for a knish. This usage probably originated with Jewish immigrants, as did the form "kashi" (technically plural, literally translating into "porridges").
In Russian, buckwheat groats are referred to as гречка "gréčka", and the porridge made from this is known as гречневая каша "gréčnevaja káša".


Kasha can be made from any grain and sometimes includes even non-grains, such as potatoes and beans. Kasha can be made either savory, with the addition of salt, or sweet, with the addition of sugar, honey, or jam.
Kasha can also be made from maize, millet, potatoes and mung beans.
"Guryevskaya Kasha" is believed to have been invented by the chef of the Russian Minister of Finance Dmitry Guryev in the early 1800s. The exact recipe is rather complex, but essentially it is a viscous semolina porridge, mixed with sugar, vanilla, nuts and pieces of fruit (apricots).

Kasha in Slavic culture

A traditional Russian fairy tale speaks of a hungry soldier who promised to prepare kasha from an ax in order to coax food from a stingy but curious woman.
The centrality of kasha in the traditional Eastern European diet is also commemorated in the Russian proverb "щи да каша — пища наша", literally "shchi and kasha are our food" and more loosely, "cabbage soup and porridge are all we need to live on."

Kasha in Jewish culture

As a Jewish answer to "soul food," kasha is often served with onions and brown gravy and bow tie pasta, known as kasha varnishkes. It is also a popular filling for knishes and is sometimes included in matzo ball soup.

Alternative spellings

The word can have various spellings, depending on the country of origin:


Kasha in Danish: Grød
Kasha in German: Kascha
Kasha in French: Porridge
Kasha in Hebrew: קאשה
Kasha in Dutch: Pap (voedsel)
Kasha in Japanese: カーシャ
Kasha in Polish: Kasza
Kasha in Russian: Каша
Kasha in Finnish: Puuro
Kasha in Swedish: Gröt
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