This is a more modern version of kutia. My baba liked the addition of the dried fruit and nuts – it’s more extravagant than her Traditional Kutia recipe. This is my “healthier” version. Slightly healthier.
What’s kutia and how do I say it?
Kutia or Kutya (pronounced coo-tcha) is one of the most important dishes in all of Ukrainian cuisine. It’s a big hassle to make – but not with an Instant Pot.
This is boiled wheat. Pretty basic but wheat is the centre of Ukrainian culture and farming. When I was younger, I was told that the yellow half of the bottom of the Ukrainian flag symbolized the wheat fields and the blue band on the top symbolized the sky. Now, that there’s Wikipedia, I’ve learned the flag pre-dates Christianity in the Ukraine but that story developed around 1845. To sum up, wheat’s important.
This recipe saves you from soaking the wheat overnight and over 2 hours of cooking time!
As one of twelve meatless dishes served on Christmas Eve – or Sviata Vechera, it’s the first dish served. It’s served on its own. The dish is passed from the head of the household and everyone takes some.
It’s also an important dish that used to be served at meals in memory of deceased family members (from Cooking from Generation to Generation, Celebrating 100 years of Weleschuk Family Tradition, self published). Now that it’s easier to make, you can make it all the time. The whole wheat kernels (not for the gluten averse – check out an Instant Pot Gluten-Free Traditional Kutia made with oat groats) are literally the whole grain. I actually enjoy it for breakfast.
Where to start
Most bulk stores will have wheat berries or wheat kernels. It’s easy to roast the wheat at a low temperature in the oven. When it’s roasting, just shake the pan a few times.
Now, the Instant Pot takes over what would be a day of soaking and hours of cooking time.
After an hour at high pressure, the kernels will “open.”
Drain the wheat but reserve the liquid. It’s quite flavourful. Heat up half a cup to use to scald the poppy seeds. Some people like to drink the water the wheat cooked in. Wheat tea, anyone? If you’ve ever had Japanese mugicha (Japanese barley tea), it’s very similar.
I use a BlendTec Mini Twister jar to combine scalded poppy seeds with chia seeds, honey and maple syrup.
No, the chia seeds aren’t a traditional Ukrainian ingredient. They do a lot of work to bring everything together and thicken the mixture a little. They’re flavourless and the same colour as the poppy seeds so no one knows they’re there.
The Twister Jar grinds this sticky mess together into a paste. It’s not entirely smooth but it’s well combined. You could also use a small food processor or a coffee grinder.
How long does the traditional recipe take? There’s still the manual labour stays the same but…
- Soaking the wheat overnight now not necessary
- Drying/toasting: 15 minutes in the oven still the same
- Boiling: over 3 hours cooking the wheat on the stove now 75 minutes in the Instant Pot
* Instant Pot times are estimates but include pressurization, cooking and de-pressurization on the Instant Pot.
Modern Instant Pot Kutia
- 2 cups red or white wheat berries
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup poppy seeds
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- ½ cup honey creamed or liquid
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup dried cherries chopped
- ½ cup chopped or slivered almonds toasted
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup raisins and whole dried cherries for garnish optional
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread the dry wheat berries on a rimmed baking sheet making sure they're in one layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the sheet from the oven, shake to distribute the wheat berries. Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Transfer the wheat berries to the Instant Pot with 4 cups of water. If there's any chaff, it'll float to the top - just remove it.
- Set the Instant Pot to Manual and High pressure and 60 minutes
- When the cooking is complete, do a quick release of the pressure. The wheat berries should have "opened" - add some more time if they're still intact.
- Drain the wheat - reserving any cooking liquid.
- Boil 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid in the microwave and add the poppy seed to the hot water. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a small food processor or coffee grinder, add the scalded poppy seeds, chia seeds, honey and maple syrup. Grind until combined.
- Stir together the wheat, poppy seed mixture, dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon.
- Serve at room temperature