This Wheat Berry Pudding is a traditional Ukrainian Christmas dish, also known as Kutia. Ukrainian Orthodox Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on January 7th. Merry Ukrainian Christmas everyone! :)Traditionally, they would attend overnight church service, and feast on Christmas day, singing carols and eating Kutia. No Santa Clause on Christmas, and no gifts! I’ve also read that there was an odd tradition back in a days, people would toss Kutia upwards to the ceiling, and the amount that would stick to the ceiling would indicate how successful next year’s harvest will be (Source). Neither my mom, nor grandma remember this tradition, but significance of having Kutia in the house for Christmas is great to this day.
There are very many variations of Kutia. Some use milk or almond milk instead of water. Hazelnuts can be used instead of walnuts. Any kind of dried fruits can be used as a substitute or in addition to raisins. Maple syrup can be used in place of honey. The recipe that I’m sharing is a traditional, basic, five ingredients only, easy recipe that anyone can make and enjoy. And no, we did not adapt the weird tradition of throwing Kutia upwards 🙂 In fact, I have my own tradition now. I serve Kutia for breakfast any time of the year, because its healthy, and filling, and it can be done ahead of time. Stays fresh for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. What’s not to like?
2 cups wheat berries, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 + 1/2 cup poppy seeds
2 cups walnuts, toasted, chopped
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup honey
8 cups water (not shown)
In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, combine wheat berries, water and a pinch of salt (optional), and bring to boil. Cover and cook until tender, about 2 + 1/2 hours over low heat. Meanwhile, soak poppy seeds in hot water for about 1 hour. After that, drain the water thru a fine mesh strainer. Grind poppy seeds on food grinder or using a clean coffee grinder until white “milk” appears. Soak raisins in hot water for 20 minutes, drain the water. Toast walnuts, chop. When wheat berries are ready, let them cool down completely. Combine wheat berries, poppy seeds, walnuts, and raisins.
Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!