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Kulesh the Warrior Food

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Funny name? Maybe. According to one of the theories,  this hearty millet dish originates from Cossack's cuisine. Easy to do, tasty, and very filling, kulesh could be cooked in the woods and fields on the open fire in cauldrons, and can be considered a warrior food.  But the name probably derives from Hungarian koeles (millet porridge). It is cooked in Ukraine, Belorussia, southern parts of Russia, and other countries of Eastern Europe. The main ingredients of kulesh are millet and pork fat, but with some tweaks you can get a very healthy variation. Over the years I developed a recipe that is somewhere in the middle. :)

What you need:
1 cup millet
2 medium starchy potatoes, cubed
15 cups filtered water
1 big yellow onion, chopped
2 cups diced quality bacon or ham
Salt to taste
Green onion, thinly sliced
Makes 5-6 generous servings

Wash millet thoroughly in cold water, rub between your hands, rinse well, drain. Cover with 4-5 cups water, and put on high heat. When water starts boiling add potatoes, reduce heat to medium, add some salt, and continue to boil on low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water when millet expands.
On a skillet saute bacon until almost all fat is melted, scoop out excess fat, add onion, and saute until it is just slightly caramelised. At the end add some more meaty cubes of bacon, and warm it all through.
When millet and potatoes are soft, add bacon and onion, mix well, taste for salt.  Remove from heat and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. Serve very hot, sprinkled with green onion. Voila! You have a warrior food fast and easy.
In vegetarian version omit bacon. Saute onion in oil, and mix it into millet and potatoes. It is also very tasty.
Millet takes a lot of water. I usually begin with about 4 cups of water per one cup of raw millet, and add more while millet expands cooking, 1-2 cups at a time. Kulesh can be thicker or thinner, to your taste.
On a chilly fall evening in a good company kulesh goes pretty well. One serving is usually not enough...

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