Some truly chilly weather arrived with September last week here in Edmonton, and it got us in the mood for some comfort food. We decided to try SIYEG Instructor Janet’s Ukrainian Kutia (wheat berry porridge) recipe and it did not disappoint! Some facts and food stories Janet shared with us:
“Kutia (wheat) is one of the 1st dishes to eat on Christmas Eve before the other 11 dishes that are served. Kutia is an offering for the deceased, honouring our ancestors. Though traditionally eaten at Christmas, kutia can be made anytime during the year and served for breakfast.
This dish brings back several memories from our Christmas Eve meals. As I would help mom prepare this particular dish, I would tease her and tell her I was going to take a spoonful of wheat as we were eating and throw it up on the ceiling. This symbolized good fortune; the more kernels that stuck to the ceiling the greater the good luck for the following year. I remember she always told me I would be cleaning the ceiling, so I never did it! Now my children tell me they are going to throw the wheat on the ceiling, but I tell them the same thing, that they are going to clean it up!”
Some tips we learned from while making it:
- Wheat berries can be seasonal and a little bit tricky to find! We found ours from our nearest H&W produce (Capilano), which has so many great local products.
- You really need to keep on top of adding water, those wheat berries can really soak it up.
- You can customize this recipe to make it your own (although the original was pretty perfect- the poppy seed, honey combo really is pretty magical). We threw in some walnuts & cinnamon could also be a nice touch if you’re feeling spicy.
- Use good quality honey; this is a predominant flavour in the dish. There are so many options out there that are awesome- hit up your local farmers market and get some super fresh sweetness to take your dish to the next level.
We hope you give this a try (it feels like an absolutely perfect fall dish), and bring a little piece of Ukraine into your home this comfort food season.
Janet’s Kutia Recipe
2 cups wheat
4 cups water
1/4 cups poppy seed
1/3 cup honey
1 apple (peeled, cored & diced)
- Soak wheat overnight(do not use soft wheat)
- The next morning rinse the wheat and bring to a boil in water
- Once boiling, cover, and turn the burner down to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours.
- During the cooking process, keep checking and add water to just above the wheat when it gets low (wheat absorbs water)
- When cooked (should be soft, and wheat is split open), add in your apple and let it cook until softened to your liking, then add honey (to taste) & poppy seeds. Serve hot.