Kutia (Kutya): Poppy Seed Dessert with Wheat Berries

Wigilijna Kutia

Kutia (pron. coo-tya) is a traditional pudding-like dessert. It’s made of poppy seed, wheat berries, crunchy nuts and dried fruit, all bathed in floral honey.

Kutia is a traditional Christmas Eve dish present at many Polish tables – especially in the East of the country (‘Kresy’/Borderlands). The recipe originally came from our Eastern neighbours: Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and Russia.

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

Kutia is damp, sticky and sweet. The dusky seeds add nutty flavour, which gets amped-up even more with almonds and walnuts. 

According to old Slavic traditions, poppy seeds symbolize abundance and fertility. That’s why they’re present in many Christmas dishes. 

Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make Kutia?

Almost all of the ingredients should be easy to get in any larger supermarket.

The only troublesome item would be wheat berries.

🇵🇱 In Poland, look out for ‘Pszenica Łuskana’ or ‘Pszenica na Kutię’. It might be tricky to find throughout the year, but its availability improves significantly in a month leading up to Christmas. 

🌍 Internationally, look for grains called ‘Wheat Berries’. They’re available in health stores and online (e.g. on Amazon).
Alternatively, swap them for Hulled Barley or Spelt Berries (cook them following the instructions on the pack).

What could you serve with this Kutia?

Kutia is a dessert served after Christmas Eve dinner, alongside other specialties such as Makowiec (Poppy Seed Roll), Piernik (Gingerbread Cake) and Cheesecakes.

Poppy Seed-rich desserts (such as our Kutia) pair nicely with Potuguese port wine, sweet Sherry or Cherry ‘Nalewka’ (Polish-style infused liqueur).

In terms of hot beverages, black tea and coffee are a popular choice. 

Can you make Kutia another way?

No, that’s a traditional way to make a Polish-style Kutia. 

Feel free to experiment. For instance – you could swap almonds and walnuts for different kinds of nuts. Or add dried apricots instead of raisins. Go nuts! (pardon the pun)

Cool Idea: Next time, I’ll soak the raisins in some rum before I add them to the mass. That’s not a traditional way to do it, but I think it would be a nice, festive twist.

What diets is this Kutia suitable for?

Kutia is suitable for vegetarians. If you would like to make this recipe gluten-free, try swapping Wheat Berries for Millet or Quinoa (just cook it according to the instructions on the pack).

How to store Kutia?

Once you’ve put it out, ideally you should eat it within 3 hours.

You can keep leftovers of Kutia in the fridge for approximately 3 days or so.

Can I freeze Kutia?

Yes, you can – but do so immediately after you made it. Move the mass into a container with a lid, label it with a date and description. Aim to consume within 2-3 months. 

Once you’re ready to eat it again, thaw it overnight in the fridge.

Smacznego!

Kutia: Poppy Seed Christmas dessert
Kutia: Poppy Seed Christmas dessert

Kutia (Kutya): Festive Poppy Seed Pudding with Wheat Berries and Nuts

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Kutia is damp, sticky and sweet. The dusky seeds add nutty flavour, which gets amped-up even more with almonds and walnuts. Yummy!

Ingredients

  • 8.8 oz (250 g) wheat berries, can substitute with hulled barley or spelt berries
  • 8.8 oz (250 g) poppy seed
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) almonds
  • 2.5 oz (75 g) walnuts
  • 2.5 oz (70 g) raisins
  • 1 oz (30 g) cranberries, dried; can substitute with more raisins
  • 2 tbsp candied orange peel, optional
  • ½ cup (120 ml) orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • ⅔ cups (200 ml) honey
  • 2-3 slices of fresh orange, optional garnish

Instructions

  1. [The day before] Cover wheat berries with hot water and let them soak overnight.
  2. The next day, strain it. Pour fresh water in (at least 1 quart/1 litre, or more) and cook until tender. It takes roughly 90 minutes on the stove and 45 minutes in the pressure cooker / instant pot. Once cooked, strain and leave to cool.
  3. Cook poppy seeds simultaneously. Place them in a pot and cover generously with milk. Cook on medium-low for 40 minutes, then strain and leave to cool. 
  4. Mince poppy seed in the meat grinder twice (smallest holes). Stand blender works too, although the texture will differ a bit (it will be more paste-like).  
  5. Combine cooked wheat berries and ground poppy seeds together with a spatula.
  6. Chop almonds, walnuts, raisins, cranberries and candied orange peel with a knife. It’s up to you how you approach it - I like to chop three quarters very finely and leave one quarter a bit chunkier. Add them into the mass and combine.
  7. Add orange juice and honey and combine. Have a look at the texture - if it feels too dry and too solid, add a little bit of whipping cream, buttermilk or something similar.
  8. Portion Kutia into four dessert bowls and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving. You can also chill Kutia without portioning, in a single container.

Notes

  • I’ve created this recipe by blending together two recipes: ‘Kutia’ by Maria Ochorowicz-Monatowa (from “Polish Cookery: The Universal Cookbook” Polish edition, 1910) and ‘Kutia’ by Polish chef Karol Okrasa

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 286Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 21mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 14gSugar: 32gProtein: 6g

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Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia is the founder of Polonist, where she celebrates Poland’s very best food.
She’s a self-taught home cook, who – through her own culinary attempts – wants to show you how to recreate Polish flavours at home, wherever that is.
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