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CEREALS AND PUDDINGS


Cereals make a variety of dishes that range from common porridge or gruel to Uzbek pilau (plov). Whether cooked plain or steamed as porridge or gruel, whether steamed and baked till it is puffy and fluffy, cereal in Russia is known as kasha. Puffy and fluffy kasha is prepared of whole-grain or cracked cereal (rice, pearl barley, buckwheat). The porridge or gruel type of kasha may be made of any cereal, usually with milk.

In cooking kasha the proportions given in the recipe must be strictly observed. The proportion for a fluffy kasha is always the same, but for porridge-like kasha it varies depending on the thickness desired. Before cooking, millet, rice or pearl barley must be washed in cold water which should be changed several times. Millet must be especially thoroughly washed to rinse out the meal that renders it bitter. Cooking time will be saved if pearl barley is soaked for 3 or 4 hours. If the right quantity of water is used, the cereal will swell and be fluffy; otherwise it will be either too dry or soggy.

As a rule, kasha is cooked in a double boiler in the following way. Bring the required amount of salt water to a boil and then rapidly add the cereal, stirring it from time to time; cook the kasha over a low heat until it thickens. Then cover the pot tightly and place it over the lower part of the double boiler, in the oven or keep it on the hob until done. If the oven is too hot, set the pot in a water bath to prevent burning. If the cereal is to be cooked in milk, add less salt than it is needed for cooking in water. When cooking sweet kasha, a minimum amount of salt (to taste) is added

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