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Cooked Wheat Pudding Recipe - Serbian Koljivo or Zhito

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Koljivo (also known as zhito) is a sweet boiled wheat dish used liturgically in the Orthodox Christian tradition. Compare koljivo to Polish kutia. The most striking difference, perhaps, is that Poles eat their wheat pudding almost exclusively on Christmas Eve, and Orthodox Christians eat theirs on Christmas Day and after a funeral, on the first Friday of the Great Lent, and at slavas.

Recipes vary widely from household to household, but usually consist of boiled wheat berries with honey or sugar, nuts and, sometimes, dried fruits, cinnamon and cream.

Makes 8 servings Serbian Cooked Wheat Pudding - Koljivo (Zhito)

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 4 hours


  • Note: Wheat berries are available at health food stores and online, but kamut berries, whole-grain barley or rice can be substituted (cooking time must be adjusted) with good effect.
  • .
  • 1 pound wheat berries, picked over and thoroughly washed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound ground (not chopped) walnuts
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, rum or almond flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Place washed wheat in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with several inches of hot water and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and wash it well in lukewarm water 2 times.

  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring wheat, 4 quarts water and salt to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender. Do not overcook. When wheat is done (anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours), rinse in lukewarm water and strain twice. Let the wheat stay in the strainer over a bowl to catch the drips overnight.

  3. The next day, mix wheat with walnuts, sugar, flavoring and cinnamon. Transfer to a large glass bowl and decorate.

  4. To serve for a funeral, mound the koljivo into a shape resembling a grave. Sometimes the entire surface is dusted with confectioners' sugar and the deceased's initials are outlined on top with raisins, or a cross is made with raisins or sugar cubes. A candle often is placed in the center of the koljivo and lighted at the beginning of the memorial service and extinguished at its end. After the ceremony, those attending eat the koljivo while expressing good wishes for the departed.
User Reviews

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 5 out of 5
its great, Member tettymurry

this was so good.. took time, but well worth it... we must learn our traditions or they will disappear.. not that im that young lol, but our Baba's would be proud of us to learn... I always wanted to go up again at a service just to get more lol... love this stuff, and the meaning behing it is so interesting...thanks for the receipe

9 out of 9 people found this helpful.

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