Kutia is an old Slavic pre-Christmas dessert. A concoction of poppy seeds, honey, wheat, nuts and fruit was consumed on the longest night of the year, during a ritual to remember family ancestors. The dish has survived for millennia and has been adopted as part of the Christian Christmas Eve tradition.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (34 votes)


  • 240 g (1 ½ cups) poppy seeds
  • 600 ml milk
  • 200 g (1 cup) large grain pearled barley
  • 180 g (½ cup) honey
  • 100 g (⅔ cup) raisins
  • 50 g (⅓ cup) whole blanched almonds, toasted, coarsely crushed
  • 100 g (1 cup) walnuts, toasted
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • zest of 1 small orange
  • 8 strips (30 g) of candied orange peel, chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Soaking time 12 hours

Chilling/freezing time 2-3 hours

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead. To get a fine, smooth result, a food grinder or meat mincer is essential.

Place the poppy seeds in a saucepan and add milk, stir, and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring frequently so the milk doesn’t burn, set aside until cool. Cover and leave to soak overnight in the fridge.

The next day, stir the soaked poppy seeds, pour out any excess liquid, then grind in a food grinder or meat mincer with the finest setting, or with the finest hole plate.

Place the barley in a heavy-based saucepan with 3 cups cold water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently for 30 minutes, or until tender. If the barley starts to dry out as it cooks, top up the water. Drain and set aside to cool.

Chop the nuts together coarsely, setting a selection of the nuts, dried fruit and citrus zest and candied peel aside for garnish. Add the nuts, barley and all remaining ingredients to the poppy-seed paste. Stir together well and serve in bowls, topped with remaining nuts. Any leftovers are delicious eaten for breakfast.


Photography by Alan Benson