Christmas kutia, kutia, kutia …wheat grains, poppy seeds and honey. You either love it or hate it.
Usually, on my blog, I only publish posts about food which I like. I have never liked kutia, because I hate poppy seeds and you have tons of ground poppy seeds in kutia. It is usually sweet like hell and that is why many people do not like traditional one.
However it is still a strong accent of Polish Christmas. I also believe that it is so unusual that it would be a sin not to publish the recipe below. After a “lifting” by reducing the amount of honey and, it may actually be quite interesting.
This is a very ancient dessert which is made exclusively for Christmas Eve dinner. It has its origins in Eastern European countries, and was a necessary element of the Christmas Eve dinner for ages. Today, it is still served in many households, usually where families have some roots in the Eastern part of old Poland.
Nowadays it is made of unprocessed wheat grains, but as far as I know, it was originally made of barley. In the past kutia not only had a culinary meaning but was connected to religious beliefs. Wheat grain for kutia is available in stores in Poland during the Christmas period and abroad in stores carrying organic food. The proportions of poppy seeds and wheat given in this recipe are not mandatory; you may reduce the quantity of poppy seeds or add much more, increase the amount of wheat, if you prefer it that way. Feel free to add almonds, various nuts, sunflower grains, raisins, other dried fruits like cranberries or apricots, soaked in a small amount of port or red wine.
Avoid, however, the excess of sugar and honey, otherwise kutia will be too sweet and not so tasty. To make your kutia less traditional and moister, in texture, you can use crème fleurette for desserts or even sweet wine, or even cook a little orange sauce and candied orange zest, so it will add a bit of acidity. It is best on the second or even on the third day, so if you plan to serve it on Christmas Eve dinner, make you kutia at least two days in advance.
200 g husked organic wheat grains
150 g black poppy seeds
50 g walnuts, finely chopped
50 g almonds, peeled and finely chopped
50 g sultan raisins
1 vanilla bean
2 table spoons powdered sugar (optionally)
4-5 table spoons of flower honey
Prepare wheat: rinse wheat grains under cold water. Put in a plastic container and pour 500 ml of water. Let stay overnight or at least a few hours. On the second day, strain the wheat. In a saucepan, bring to a boil 2 liters of water, put the wheat grains into it and cook until soft for around 2 hours, depending on the quality of the grains. Strain well and let it cool down.
Prepare poppy seeds and raisins: In the meantime, prepare poppy seeds and raisins. Soak raisins for around one hour in 200 ml of warm water. Then strain them well. Put aside. Reserve water. Put the poppy seeds into a saucepan, add one liter of boiling water and cook until soft. The poppy seeds are cooked when you can easily mash the seeds with your fingers. Then grind poppy seeds in a meat grinder, twice. Put aside. You can also cook poppy seeds in milk.
Finish kutia: Open a vanilla bean and remove the seeds. Mix them with 2 spoons of honey. Take a large bowl. Place wheat, poppy seeds, raisins, almonds, walnuts, honey with vanilla beans. Mix everything very well. Taste. If the desert is too dry, add a bit of raisins water. If it is not sweet enough, add sifted powdered sugar and honey, according to your taste. Put overnight into the fridge. Serve cold with some orange candied skins for decoration and a bit of orange sauce.
What did I do for the past few months ?
Despite the fact that I do not publish so often now, I am quite active. I, and my group of friends, whom I met at the screen plan of the first Polish season of Master Chef, frequently meet and cook for the public on various culinary events. I have a lot of new friends who are foodies - thank you guys !
Today, I participated to a meeting and culinary workshops designated to the preparation of traditional Christmas Eve dishes from Małopolska (Kraków region). I wrote many times that, in most Polish homes, the Christmas Eve menu is very traditional (nevertheless, the dishes vary according to the region).The meeting took place in the Hotel Stary close to the Main Market Square. On your next visit to Kraków, do not forget to visit this hotel, go to its top floor. There is a bar there and you can admire the Main Market Square and the rooftops of Kraków. The event was organized by Slow Food Cracovia in connection with the Terra Madre Day. The president of Slow Food Polska – Jacek Szklarek and the chef Krzysztof Żurek explained how to pick up a good carpe – the national fish at Christmas time (many people do not believe it, but carpe may be good !) and how to debone it (which is not so easy). The chef gave us some instructions and personal tricks for a perfect pierogi dough (in his opinion, the dough should stay in the fridge overnight and it should not be too thin), and how to obtain a perfect colour for the bortsch. We tasted Polish herrings (the must for the Christmas Eve in many Polish homes) with cold pressed Polish organic oils – linen and colza. We finished with some yeast cakes (babas) and kutia – the dessert which is presented in today's post. Those who did not come by car could drink some special types of okowita – very strong and fruity distilled alcohol, traditionally made in the south of Poland.
And yesterday I had a chance to sit, for three hours, in a freezing cold (minus ten Celsius degrees) on a stage of "Galicyjski Kiermasz Adwentowy" ("Galicia Christmas Fair") which took place here, in the center of Kraków, before Christmas, and could talk a bit about Christmas culinary traditions. Ewa Wachowicz – the author of cook books and TV programs – talked about Christmas cookies. My friend Klaudia talked about Christmas traditions in Greece and I chose to tell about Christmas traditions in France. That was a busy weekend.