Mulgipuder: Estonia’s Potato Porridge


Mulgipuder: Estonia’s Potato Porridge

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

"Mulgipuder" or mashed potatoes with barley, may just be the recipe you’ve been looking for as autumn grows colder and darker and we all yearn for a bowl of warmth and deliciousness. This description characterizes many of the foods that have become popular in Estonia throughout its history. With its proximity to the sea, fish is an important of the Estonian culinary culture, as are roasted meats, sausages and a variety of preserved foods. These are necessary to have different ingredients throughout the winter in this colder climate. Be sure to also try some Estonian desserts such as “kohuke” and “kohupiimakreem,” which showcase the sweet side of cheese curd.

Mashed potatoes are a common dish around the world, but the combination of potatoes and barley is what makes mulgipuder unique. With almost 4,000 years of history, barley is a staple ingredient in Estonian recipes, as it has been grown in the country longer than other crops. This particular recipe comes from southern Estonia, but is popular all over the country today.

This porridge can be served as a cozy, lighter main course or as a side to go with roasted meat dishes. It is somewhat of an open palette in terms of what the porridge can be topped with. It is traditionally served with cooked onions and bacon on top, plus sour cream and rye bread, but you could add other preserves, sauces or different vegetables. You can also easily make it vegetarian or vegan, substituting the bacon for pan-fried eggplant or sour cream with a vegan alternative.


Serves: 4

Start to finish: 1 hour

3 1/3 pounds potatoes

1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed

2 onions, chopped

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

2 to 3 bay leaves

6 1/3 cups water

Peel the potatoes and cut into halves. Place potatoes in pot with barley, onions, salt and bay leaves. Cover everything with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot with a lid and let it cook on medium heat for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare onions, bacon or other toppings while potatoes cook.

Check on the potatoes and if there is a lot of water left, let it boil an additional 5 minutes without a lid. Then, remove the bay leaves, drain and return potato-barley mixture to pot to mash (using a traditional masher, not a ricer). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with prepared toppings and enjoy!

(This recipe was adapted from “Vegansandra.”)


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