In Ukraine kutia represents Christmas. Traditional kutia is made with polished whole wheat grains and barley. This ritual dish is popular across the country and has different regional names, like pshenitci (wheat grains in Ukrainian) and dziobavka (grain for pecking in Ukrainian).  

The dish is cooked by adding different types of sweetener. Traditionally Ukrainians use syta, which is a type of beverage or brew made from honey combs doused with boiling water and then drained. As the new technologies allowed to extract honey without damaging the homey combs, honey thinned with water was still called syta, a honeyed beverage. The cooks who did not have any syta available, used uzvar or var (from Ukrainian varyty – to stew or cook), a thick fruit infusion. The thick beverage, cooked with dried pears, apples, plums, and cherries has a distinct sweet taste without adding any sugar.   

The dish is seasoned with crushed poppy seeds, nuts, and sultanas. The poppy seeds are ground in a traditional Ukrainian mortar or makitra until a milky substance begins to ooze. Kutia is an important part of festive dining. Kutia in a dish is traditionally placed in the middle of the festive table and covered with ritual bread like knishi and kalachi which were shared among the guests when all of the family has gathered behind the table. After the meal is over the dishes are not cleared off the table. Some kutia and other dishes together with cutlery are traditionally left on the table overnight to serve as nourishment for the souls of the dead relatives. With time this tradition of feeding the spirits has changed. Today just like some time before a small saucer with kutia and a slice of bread is left on the table or on a window sill. The ritual food is kept inside the house by the window or on other household furniture until the Epiphany Day. In rural Ukraine kutia and small slices of bread are ritually fed to the chickens.  


Cooking time: 24-30 hrs. 

Serves 10 people.



• 500 g wheat grain
• 100 g poppy seeds
• 2–3 tsp honey
• 75 g walnuts
• 30 g sultanas 
• 50 g dried cherries


Cooking method

Rinse the wheat grains well and cover with water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, skim off the froth and keep cooking over a low heat for about an hour. 

Pick clean the sultanas, and soak them in boiling water for 5–10 minutes. Soak the poppy seeds in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and mince them in a blender or grind them in a traditional Ukrainian mortar or makitra. 

Crush the shelled walnuts; finely chop the dried cherries. Dissolve the honey in a small quantity of water. 

Season the cooked wheat porridge with honey mixed with water, add the other ingredients and mix.    


If the poppy seeds are slightly bitter in flavour, steep them in boiling water and then boil for several minutes to get rid of the bitter taste.  



Photo by Oksana Sybydlo




Український інститут


The recipe is part of “Ukraine. Food and Culture”, a coffee table edition developed to promote Ukrainian food culture overseas and published by їzhakultura/їzhak publishing with support from the Ukrainian Institute.