Taste of Russia

Food for warriors: Making ‘Kulesh’ in a WWII field kitchen - Taste of Russia Ep.2

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention and that’s true of many traditional dishes around the world. Once created for lack of better options, some foods win hearts – and stomachs – because they taste great and are easy to make. A good example is kulesh, a millet dish known as ‘warrior food’ because it can easily be cooked on an open fire. It was the staple dish for Soviet soldiers during World War II, and a modified version is prepared in Russian homes to this day.

To learn to make authentic Soviet army kulesh, Oscar and Glen join a group of military reenactors at the famous Khatenki airfield, where the legendary French Normandie-Niemen Fighter Aviation Regiment lived and worked side by side with Russian mechanics.

Kulesh recipe
Kulesh recipe

After chopping vegetables for the dish and wood for fuel, they spark up a real World War II military field kitchen and begin to assemble the ingredients. To Glen’s surprise, they include canned meat compliments of Uncle Sam’s Lend-Lease program. When the kulesh is ready, it needs to be delivered to the troops. Glen is tasked with carrying heavy food containers through the natural obstacle course of a snowy forest while under ‘friendly fire’ from a machine gun. That kulesh had better be good!

For a close up look at an authentic WWII Russian field kitchen, check out Taste of Russia, Episode 2.