Kutia is the first dish in the traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper (Svyata Vechera). Traditionally, a spoonful of Kutia thrown to the ceiling foretells the prosperity for the coming year by the number of kernels that adhere to it. The more kernels stuck…a good and prosperous new year!
2 cups wheat berries (wash well and soaked overnight)
1/2 cup honey (liquid or creamed)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts)
1/2 cup poppy seed
1/2 – 1 cup of water (boiled and hot, to be added before serving)
Whether you are getting your wheat from a health food store or the local farmer down the road, be sure to clean your wheat well. Pick out any foreign grains or chaff.
The wheat may have an outer layer of bran on it. Rinse well and then spread the wheat berries in a shallow baking pan for 1 hour at 225F. Using your rolling pin, gently crush the wheat to loosen this layer. Rinse again. The bran will rise to the top of the water;discard. Rinse the wheat again.
Soak the wheat in 7 cups of water, overnight.
Cook the wheat in the same water in which it was soaked. Bring it to a boil and then lower the temperature to simmer for about 6 hours. It will thicken so ensure that you stir frequently. Check it often and add more water. It will be necessary to keep adding water.
Wash the poppy seed by pouring boiling water over it. Bring it to a boil on the stove top for about 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve. Using your grinder, blender or food processor, grind for 1 minute. I only do about 3 tablespoons at a time and I add 1-2 tbsp. of water to the poppy seed as I grind it. You may also leave it whole.
Mix together the cooked wheat, poppy seeds, nuts, and honey. Add the hot water and stir all ingredients. Taste it and if it’s too thick or needs more honey, adjust as needed. Some people like it very sweet; in this case add about half to one tablespoon white sugar and mix in well.
Note: I prefer walnuts but pecans or almonds taste great as well when mixed with the wheat.