A native of Russia, buckwheat is thought of as a cereal, but is actually an herb of the genus Fagopyrum. The triangular seeds of this plant are used to make buckwheat flour, which has an assertive flavor and is used for pancakes and as an addition to some baked goods. The famous Russian blini are made with buckwheat flour. Buckwheat groats are the hulled, crushed kernels, which are usually cooked in a manner similar to rice. Groats come in coarse, medium and fine grinds. Kasha, which is roasted buckwheat groats, has a toastier, more nutty flavor.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.