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