Ukraine: Sharing Kutya on Christmas Eve

Across the globe this holiday season, many Eastern Europeans of Russian, Ukrainian and Polish heritage will share a single bowl of their most important dish as the kick-off to Christmas Eve celebrations. Known as Kutya (‘koot-ya”), it is a porridge that some families believe will bring happiness, peace and success if it “sticks” when thrown up to the ceiling. Sounds like the Italian pasta throwing test for doneness, doesn’t it!?  The main ingredient, wheat berries, speaks of fertility, and the added honey represents the spirit of Christ to Ukrainians.
Here is an easy Kutya recipe to add Old World European flavor to your holiday festivities.


3/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

1 1/2 cups wheat berries

8 cups water

1/2 cup poppy seeds, divided

1/3 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


The day before you plan to serve, rinse the wheat berries and soak overnight in 8 cups of water.

On cooking day, preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Pour berries and water into a large non-metallic pan and bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees, or until soft but chewy. Stir every 15-30 minutes, checking for doneness along the way.

Remove from oven and place mixture in serving dish. Add butter and honey and gently toss until melted. Stir in walnuts, cinnamon and most of the poppy seeds, saving a few to sprinkle on top before serving.

Serves 4.
Image by The Fresh Sheet.

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