Sunday, March 6, 2011

Christmas Kutya.


Hey there! Found me on Pinterest? I would really love it if you left a quick comment if you made this recipe! I'm not really looking for traffic on my site, just want to know if this recipe worked, what changes you might add, and any other ideas. You can imagine how hard it is to find Ukrainian food enthusiasts, so any input from you is welcome! Especially if you are Ukrainian! Дякую!

(Pictures taken by me. There aren’t any good pictures on the internet.)
Ok so I might get in a lot of trouble for posting this since it’s not Christmas and Ukrainians are pretty strict about keeping holiday foods within the season they are meant for. (Pasca is one of them, which we make for Easter). But I was really wanting to try making Kutya because it is so delicious and I have been missing Ukrianian cuisine lately. For Valentine’s Day we went out for Polish food, which was delicious, but I miss having cherry varenyky and Darnitsky bread available at every turn. So what is Kutya (or Kutia), you ask? Basically it’s a traditional pudding with wheat berries, nuts, poppy seeds, and sweetened with honey or sugar and sometimes raisins or other dried fruit are added (See this Wikipedia article for a more comprehensive explanation). I think I only had this once or twice on my mission, because, like I said, they ONLY serve it at Christmas. It was unlike anything I have ever had. The closest thing I can compare it to (texture-wise) is tapioca pudding, but it’s not super sugary, and it has nuts and fruit, making it much more substantial and healthy. I wonder how some form of kutya has not been endorsed by health nuts. Most Ukrainian food is surprisingly good for you (despite the large amount of sour cream used to garnish everything). They use very inexpensive ingredients that have lots of nutritional value, plus it’s TASTY. But it’s lack of popularity is what keeps it in obscurity, for some very strange reason. What a pity.
Another thing that is different about Kutya is that it uses wheat berries. I have never cooked with these before myself, but they are widely used in Ukraine, along with a myriad of other wheat products.
I highly recommend you try making this. If you are tired of oatmeal this could be a great breakfast alternative for you. Or if you are looking for a wholesome dessert that won’t weigh you down too much (unless you add lots of cream to it :-), this stuff is really yummy. Our recipe is kind of a conglomeration of different recipes we found on the internet, and you are welcome to add more or less ingredients as you wish. But ours turned out really well, which is why I am sharing it with you. I also put these recipes up for my own reference, so don’t be surprised if I add other Ukrainian recipes here soon.
Ohh. Look at that.
2 cups Wheatberries
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit as you prefer)
1/2 cup – 1 cup roasted almonds, chopped (or other nuts as you prefer)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup milk
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Soak the wheatberries overnight in water. The next day, put wheatberries in a pot and bring to a boil. Then let simmer for about 4-5 hours (ok, that’s a long time! But they need to get really soft and creamy. Add more water as needed so that they don’t burn.) Once they are soft, make another mixture of sugar, honey, and water and cook until sugar is dissolved. (TIP: if you added lots of water to the wheatberries to cook, you can drain some to make the pudding less soupy.) Add this to the wheatberries, along with the chopped almonds, poppy seeds, raisins, milk, cream, and vanilla extract. This can be eaten warm right away (probably just to taste it), but traditionally it is served cold, after the flavors have had time to combine.
Honestly it was hard to come up with these measurements because I measured by handfuls for stuff like the nuts and the raisins. So you can take the matter into your own hands (or handfuls) and add more of what you like or less of what you don’t like. We got some of the ingredients at Whole Foods, since things like poppy seeds are hard to find in bulk.
Let me know if you have any problems making this. It makes a lot so if you live close enough to me you can try it out for yourself! We had fun doing it and will enjoy it tonight with our Borsch dinner! Слава Українi!


Eva said...

Betsy, you're awesome. Eric has been doing Bulgarian foods lately - in fact he made a Bulgarian pizza last night, lutenitza (a cooked red pepper with other vegetables puree) with cyrena cheese (Bulgarian feta) on top.

Shauna said...

I made this and it was wonderful! So very yummy. Mine wasn't as thick as yours though. It was very thick until I added the sugar/honey syrup and milk. I love the poppy seeds and almonds in it. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

D. Kim said...

I'll vouch that it was good. The problem for me was I felt some major cognitive dissonance eating something that tasted so incredibly delicious while at the same time taking like it was good for you.

Iryna Wilson said...

Because it is made for Sviat Vechir, Christmas Eve we are not allowed to use milk products, eggs or meat that evening. I use 1 cup of raw wheat berries to 1 cup of poppyseed which is scalded with boiling water then drained and ground in a coffee grinder before mixing with honey. I add approx 1/2 cup honey,some orange juice, a splash of marashino cherry juice, 1 cup of raisins, a little almond extract, but no water. Don't like it soupy. The top is decorated with marashino cherries and pecans. Better when it sits for a bit. Nice to know the tradition continues.

Roma Giordano said...

I make mine super simple: cooked wheat berries, finely chopped walnuts, milk, honey and grinded poppy seeds. Its so good!

Roma Giordano said...

I make mine super simple: cooked wheat berries, finely chopped walnuts, honey, grinded poppy seeds, hot milk. Its so good!