For many, Christmas is a season of wonderful festive celebrations. ‘Old’ Ukrainian Christmas Eve falls on 6th January. In the evening, family members gather together to share ‘Sviata Vecheria’ (‘Holy Supper’ or ‘Christmas Eve Supper’).
The Ukrainian tradition of Sviata Vecheria differs in detail from region to region and from family to family. However, certain elements remain the same. Sviata Vecheria consists of 12 dishes containing no meat or animal by-products. And although there are variations, two of the 12 dishes are essential: Kutia (Kutya) and Uzvar. Both are sweet dishes.
Uzvar is a refreshing beverage, a compote made from dried fruit. Kutia is a wholesome rustic dish made with husked wholewheat grains (kernels and berries). Its other healthy ingredients include: honey, poppy seeds, raisins and walnuts. It is not difficult to make Kutia, but it takes a while because of the time required to cook the wheat grains.
Two of our books offer Kutia recipes. Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper could not exclude this ancient dish. In addition to Kutia, the book presents other dishes popular at ‘Sviata Vecheria’. The second book is Ancient Grains: Ukrainian Recipes. Both books are included in our Tradition on a Plate series. They offer several recipes for this ancient dish as well as some interesting information about it.
We hope you enjoy this recipe for tasty Kutia, a central feature of the Ukrainian Christmas Eve table.
1 cup wheat kernels (hull removed), 1⁄2 cup poppy seeds, 1⁄2 cup raisins (optional), 1⁄2 cup honey, 1⁄2 cup walnuts (coarsely chopped) (optional), 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (to season).
Rinse wheat kernels in a sieve under running lukewarm water. Place in a bowl, cover with lukewarm water and soak overnight. Simmer in the same water for about 3 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally. Season with salt 5–10 minutes before cooking is completed. Let it cool, then place in a refrigerator.
Cover the poppy seeds with boiling water, soak for 15 minutes, strain and then grind. In a separate bowl, cover the raisins with boiling water for about 10 minutes, then strain.
Mix honey with 1 cup of water and bring to the boil. Let the honey syrup cool, then combine it with the refrigerated wheat, making a medium–thin mixture. Stir in the poppy seed paste, walnuts and raisins.
Serve the kutia chilled.
(A little twist on this recipe is to add some candies. They change the texture of the dish. On the following day, you may wish to re-heat your kutia. It makes a deliciously special breakfast on a crispy winter morning. In this case the candies would become viscous, changing the texture of the dish once again. PS: please make sure the candies have no milk or any other animal by-products among their ingredients. Remember, all the dishes served on Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper should be vegetarian.)
Check out our other articles on Kutia, the Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper, and Tradition on a Plate series 🙂