Guest Author - Asha Sahni
On January 25 people worldwide gather in groups large and small to celebrate Burns Night, the anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth. Some people will attend a formal Burns Supper. Others may gather with friends and family to remember the Scottish poet, often including some of Burns’ poems in their celebrations. All are likely to have some or all traditional Burns foods such as haggis, neeps and tatties and cock-a-leekie soup.
Haggis. Scottish haggis is a product easy to get hold of if you live in the UK, but it is a great deal more tricky to get the authentic product in the USA. America originally stopped the import of Scottish haggis because a key ingredient – sheep’s lung – was a banned product in the US. Following the BSE crisis in 1989 British offal was banned - a further blow against the Scottish haggis. You can, however, buy haggis products in the US that have been made in America – if you do so look for a product which follows traditional cooking methods as much as possible. If you or people dining with you do not eat meat vegetarian haggis is an option – these can be shop bought, or if you find veggie haggis difficult to get hold of you can make your own. You will find a link to a vegetarian haggis recipe at the end of this article.
Neeps and Tatties. The English are often somewhat confused by Scottish neeps which the Scottish call turnips – the English call the same vegetable swede. This is an easy vegetable dish to make – boil the neeps and tatties (potatoes), then mash - preferably with generous doses of butter.
Cock-a-leekie Soup. A common first course for Burns Suppers, Cock-a-leekie Soup has been a staple part of the Scottish diet for centuries. The soup is filling – chicken, leeks and other vegetables are boiled slowly to form a rich broth. You can, if you’re not feeling in soup making mode, cheat and buy tinned cock-a-leekie soup in the UK. There is a link to a cock-a-leekie soup recipe at the end of this article.
Clootie Dumpling. A pudding of Clootie Dumpling, a traditional Scottish pudding cooked in a cloth (cloot) is a great way to finish a Burns Supper. The pudding includes suet, flour, oatmeal and dried fruit. Another traditional dessert frequently consumed at Burns Suppers is Cranachan – a blend of cream, honey, oatmeal and whisky often topped with raspberries.
Whisky. Alongside the food, for those so inclined, a dram (or more!) of Scotch whisky is an essential element of a Burns Supper. It is worth having other drinks available to complement the meal for those who are not whisky drinkers. Red wine goes well with haggis, and the soft drink Irn Bru is a Scottish favourite.
Vegetarian Haggis Recipe
Cock-a-leekie Soup Recipe