Kutia Wigilijna (Polish Christmas Cooked Wheat Pudding)

Polish Christmas cooked wheat pudding recipe

​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Plus: 8 hrs
Total: 12 hrs
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
327 Calories
12g Fat
52g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 327
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 198mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Total Sugars 32g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 367mg 28%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 382mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Polish kutia wigilijna or Christmas cooked wheat pudding, consisting of whole or cracked wheat or barley (rice for the aristocracy!), poppy seeds, honey, and sweetmeats (łakocie) like figs, raisins, and nuts, and sometimes cream, is typically the first course served at the Christmas Eve dinner known as ​wigilia.

Originally, kutia was eaten only in eastern Poland where it borders with Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, but today it is becoming more popular throughout the entire country. The ingredients are variable depending on taste, availability of ingredients, and budget.

There are hundreds of variations for kutia, and it exists in other cultures including Russia and Ukraine where it is known as kutya or sochivo, Lithuania, and Slovakia. (Serbia—koljivo, Romania—coliva, Bulgaria—kolivo, Greece—kollyva, Middle East—kahmieh, Armenia—anoushabour.) 

Wheat berries are available at health food stores and online, but kamut berries, whole-grain barley or rice can be substituted with good effect (cooking time must be adjusted).

This recipe is an amalgamation of several from Robert and Maria Strybel's "Polish Heritage Cookery" (Hippocrene Books Inc., 1999).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wheat berries, or kamut berries, rinsed

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup poppy seeds

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 4 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • 2/3 cup plumped raisins

  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts, optional

  • 1/2 cup almonds, blanched and coarsely ground, optional

  • 5 plumped dried figs, chopped, optional

  • 5 plumped pitted dates, chopped, optional

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Polish Christmas cooked wheat pudding
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Place rinsed wheat berries in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water by about 5 inches. Stir, cover, and let stand overnight.

    Place wheat berries in pot
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. When ready to cook, drain the wheat berries, rinse, drain again and place back in the pot. Add 6 cups cold water and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tender (anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours). Drain and set aside to cool.

    Drain wheat berries
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Prepare poppy seeds by placing them in a saucepan with water to cover by several inches. Stir and let stand 20 minutes. Pour off any impurities that rise to the surface, then drain through a sieve, rinse under cold water and drain again. Return poppy seeds to the saucepan and scald with boiling water to cover by an inch. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

    Prepare poppy seeds
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Place saucepan on the burner, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Poppy seeds are ready when they can be pulverized between the fingers. Drain and grind once in a poppy seed grinder or 3 times in a regular grinder.

    Place sauce in pan
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. In a large bowl, combine cooled, cooked wheat, ground poppy seeds, confectioners' sugar, honey, vanilla, zest, raisins and walnuts, almonds, figs, and dates, if using any or all.

    Ingredients in bowl
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. Mix well and add half and half, incorporating thoroughly.

    Add milk
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  8. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Wheat pudding
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska