Kollyva: Greek Funeral & Memorial Boiled Wheat

Steve Outram / Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 5 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 15 mins

In Greek: κόλλυβα, pronounced KOH-lee-vah

Kollyva is a traditional dish served at funerals and memorial services. It is generally served from a large tray, spooned out into cups or on small plates. There are many versions, but all start with whole wheat kernels. It is generally made in large quantities so all who attend can receive a small amount.


  • 2 pounds of wheat (hulled)
  • 7/8 cup of walnuts (ground)
  • 7/8 cup of almonds (ground blanched)
  • 1 1/3 cups of sesame seeds (crushed toasted)
  • 2 1/4 cups of chickpeas (ground or chickpea meal or flour)
  • 1 pomegranate (seeds)
  • 1 pound of sugar (confectioner's)
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon (ground)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of cloves (ground)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of salt (sea)
  • 5 to 6 lemon leaves
  • Optional: Jordan almonds (koufeta, decoration)
  • Optional: Silver dragees (decoration)

Steps to Make It

  1. Wash the wheat well.

  2. Boil in plenty of water for 5 to 10 minutes and drain.

  3. Transfer to a large pot and add fresh water, covering the wheat plus 3 inches.

  4. Boil until the wheat kernels open (in a pressure cooker, this takes about an hour; in a regular pot, at least 2 hours).

  5. When the wheat is done, stir in the salt, cook for another 2 minutes and remove from heat.

  6. Place the lemon leaves in the bottom of a colander and add the cooked wheat on top to drain.

  7. Spread the wheat and lemon leaves out on a clean white towel laid out on a marble or stone surface to dry (about 4 to 5 hours).

  8. Combine ground cinnamon and cloves to mix well.

  9. When the wheat is completely dry, add remaining ingredients and mix well.

  10. Place on doilies on a tray and decorate with Jordan almonds and silver dragees according to church custom.

Kollyva is served in heaping tablespoons in cups or on small plates to each person attending the funeral or memorial service.