TED Translators culture series: local food with Nika Kotnik

Photo courtesy of Nika Kotnik.

For this week’s TED Translators culture feature, we’ve got another tasty local dish to share with you. Slovenian TED Translator Nika Kotnik was kind enough to detail for us how to cook a simple and nutritious meal that consists of two of her country’s staple foods: buckwheat and porcini mushrooms. As Nika told us, “In Slovenia, buckwheat is a traditional food, and porcini mushrooms—especially those picked in the wild and dried for the winter—are very popular.” This dish, called ajdova kaša z jurčki in Slovenian, is a great way to warm up on cold winter days, so her recipe couldn’t have come at a better time for those of us currently in the Northern Hemisphere. What’s more, ajdova kaša z jurčki lends itself well to countless variations; try Nika’s version below, or add your own twist.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup of buckwheat.
  • Butter.
  • 1 to 2 leeks.
  • Porcini mushrooms (as many as you like; fresh, or soaked in water for 2 hours and then dried).
  • 2 cups of water.
  • 1 bouillon cube.
  • 100 milliliters of white wine.

And here’s Nika’s recipe:

  • Soak the buckwheat in water overnight; rinse and drain in the morning.
  • Heat a bit of butter in a pan and add diced leek(s).
  • Add a pinch of salt and sauté the leek(s) for 5 minutes.
  • Add the drained buckwheat and porcini mushrooms.
  • Add 2 cups of water and 1 bouillon cube.
  • Let simmer for 15 minutes, and stir occasionally.
  • Add 100 milliliters of white wine.
  • Let cook for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with baked tofu or a veggie patty, if desired.
  • Add more wine, if desired.


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