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Kutia Wheat Porridge, Ukrainian Christmas Eve Main Dish (VIDEO)

Updated: Dec 19, 2023




I hope you'll make this recipe very soon. Just a few days left before a Christmas.

If you do, please tag me #innichka_chef on Instagram, Facebook, Patreon or Pinterest.

Christmas Eve really wouldn’t be the same in our house without Kutia. I grew up eating it on Christmas Eve, and I absolutely love it. Everyone in Ukraine has their own way of preparing and eating kutia. Personally, I enjoy it on the soupy side vs my mom who prefers a more pilaff consistency.

wooden bowl of wheat porridge and spoon

WHAT IS KUTIA?

The word KU-TIA has two syllables. The first vowel /u/ is short and second /ia/ is read as in the word India.

In Ukraine and in Eastern European countries, Kutia is the main of twelve dishes served for Svyata Vecherya (Holy Supper) on Sviaty Vechir (Christmas Eve). This Holy Supper meal is meatless as well as dairy and egg free.

porridge in wooden bowl with a wooden spoon

It is a sweet porridge of wheat grains with honey and ground poppy seeds.


Kutia is a very ancient sacral dish. This ethnic Kutia recipe has been known since the establishment of farming.


HOW AND WHEN WE SHOULD EAT KUTIA?

The Holy Supper always begins with a prayer when the first star appears in conjunction with a strict fast. In the old days people did not eat the whole day until Holy Supper was served.

During Holy Supper, a large bowl of Kutia is put in the middle of the dinner table and the first tablespoon would be taken by the head of the family. After that the rest of the family members were allowed to taste the sweet wheat porridge. After eating the porridge, the rest of the other Ukrainian Christmas dishes would be eaten. 


WHAT ELSE DO UKRAINIANS EAT ON CHRISTMAS EVE?

The Orthodox church participates in a strict fast a month prior to Christmaswhich is called The Nativity fast, and the Christmas Eve dinner is the last meal in that style of eating; meatless and no egg or dairy dishes are allowed. So Svyata Vecherya (Holy Supper) is the culmination of The Nativity fast in the Orthodox life cycle. As I mentioned earlier, The Holy Supper always begins when the first star appears in the sky, and is usually followed with Christmas religious caroling.


holly supper icon

The rest of the dishes eaten at the Holy Supper are vegetarian, such as bone fish, mushrooms, veggies, and fruits. 

Besides eating Kutia, my family enjoys these dishes: 

Braised cabbage with wild mushrooms

braised cabbage in a bowl with two slices of bread
salad and fork
salad slaw in a bowl and jar
pirogies
dumplings and pouring a spoon of blueberry compote

Other foods include sauteed wild mushrooms, potatoes, fish, etc.

Usually after a big but light meal the whole family leaves for the midnight service.


WHAT DOES KUTIA SYMBOLIZE?

Kutia symbolizes honoring ancestors.

It is sacrificial food. After the Holy Supper Kutia was left on the table with spoons for the spirits of dead family members.

me holding a wooden bowl

Kutia is very much like Kolivo, which is a traditional dish served at a remembrance service called Panihida.


WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE KUTIA?

kutia and spoon

Wheat berries - hearty, chewy and fiber-rich boiled wheat berries are the perfect base for any breakfast, lunch or dinner dish. They are slightly chewy and so delicious. For this recipe any kind will do.

Here are a few kinds that I use in my kitchen: kamut, spelt, red hard wheat, white hard wheat.

Poppy seeds - Ukrainians have used poppy seeds (Mak, ukrainian language) in their cooking for centuries and associated them with stars in the sky.

Raisins - any kind you have on hand, or other dried fruit.

Honey - of course raw local honey is always the best choice.

Walnuts -just because of the climate walnuts are the most popular nuts in Ukraine. In fact, the biggest and sweetest walnuts, the size of a chicken egg, I have only seen in Ukraine. It is not a very common kind of walnut but it does exist in that part of the world as well as hazelnuts.


These are very easy to find ingredients. Sometimes my mom added sunflower fudge, called halva to the kutia. It was not very traditional, but it made the porridge sweeter and richer. My family loves it.


Let's begin to celebrate this Christmas with tradition...


Prep time: 5 minutes

Soaking time: 8 -10 hours

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Total time: 10 hours and 55 minutes

Author: Inna of innichkachef.com

ingredients

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked wheat berries (hard white wheat berries, that's what I used)

1/2 - 1 cup raw local honey

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup raw cane sugar course (helps to grind the poppy seeds the old fashioned way)

1/4 cup almonds (optional for decoration, I like to line up as a cross)


Directions


  • Soak your wheat berries the night before.

  • Drain water and add fresh water at least 2 inches above the wheat about 4 and 1/2 cups. Start simmering in a pot and cover it. During the first few minutes of simmering, skim out the foam. Keep an eye on it, add more water if needed. Depending on what kind of wheat you use, the time of cooking can vary but you can expect to cook it for a minimum of 40 minutes.

  • Meanwhile rinse the poppy seeds and push through a very fine sifter. Add to the pot and add water 1-2 inches above the poppy seeds. Start simmering, about 20 minutes. (Or you can soak them in boiling water 2-3 times. My mom did it this way). After boiling for 20 minutes I have no water left in the pot. If you are soaking, then rinse and push through the sifter. This is a must step.

  • Add to a mortar and pestle a little spoon of sugar with a little bit of poppy seeds and then grind together. Repeat with the rest of poppy seeds and sugar, about 2-3 times. If you are lucky to have a huge mortar and pestle, you can add all the poppy seeds at once. This is the way mom and grandmother always did it. However, if you feel like it, do use an immersion blender. This video will show you how to do it!

  • Cooked wheat, honey, raisins, crushed walnuts and ground poppy seeds and mix all together. Now, add one drop of vanilla extract, but it's optional. I like to add vanilla but it's not the traditional way.

Garnish as desired. I like to make a cross on top using almonds.

Enjoy!

bowl with wheat berries, cross made out of almons, and wooden spoon

NOTES

Kutia can be made the day before and kept in the fridge. You might need a little bit more or less water, and the addition of honey is nice too but it is up to you.

Remember to serve at room temperature!






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