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Κóλυβα

Koliva

We have been getting many requests for Koliva since last July when I made my father’s and posted about it. Koliva is a traditional Greek dish made of wheat berries that is shared as part of memorial services in the Greek Orthodox Church. It symbolizes everlasting life and is based on a bible verse, John 12:24, which reads:

“… Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Koliva

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds dried wheat berries
  • 14 oz walnuts
  • 12 oz plain breadcrumbs
  • 7 oz sliced blanched almonds
  • 10 oz golden raisins
  • 14 tbsp. sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • A bag of confectioners’ sugar (you will use between 4 and 5 cups)

Method:

PART 1:

  1. Wash your wheat berries well, 2 or 3 times ( look up directions for this if need be).
  2. Soak them for 8 hours or overnight in a large pot filled with water; rinse in a colander and drain well.
  3. In a big pot cover the wheat berries with cold water and bring to a boil.
  4. Boil about 25 minutes to a half hour or until the spores open.
  5. Empty into a large colander and rinse well with cold water.
  6. Set aside in a colander for half an hour.
  7. Spread over a sheet covered in paper towels and let dry for 2 to 8 hours.
  8. Put in the fridge overnight or up to 2 days.

PART 2:

  1. In a food processor, or with a bowl, press walnuts so that they are broken into small pieces.
  2. Crush the blanched almonds with your hands and mix your nuts. Add raisins.
  3. Next, in a large sheet pan, spread out your wheat and add your breadcrumbs and sugar mix.
  4. Mix well with your hands making sure all the sugar and breadcrumb stick to each wheat berry before you add your nut mixture.
  5. Spread flat across a cookie sheet.
  6. Cover entire top with cinnamon until entire Koliva is covered in cinnamon. Mix it well (it will take on a beautiful red golden color).

DECORATING & SERVING:

  1. On a large serving platter, add your Koliva in the form of a dome or mound (look at papers to see what exact shape you prefer). **please note some like to arrange dollies on the platter and mound the Koliva on top).
  2. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the mound and flatten again.
  3. Using a knife, smooth over the top and sides and cover in confectioners sugar again.
  4. Map out your cross by placing two long wooden skewer sticks atop; remove sticks and place silver candies (or Jordan Almond if you prefer. I used the Decorative Silver Dragées, Oval Almond that can be found on Amazon or any Greek specialty store).
  5. You can fill cross in the center of the Koliva with Jordan almonds, almond slivers, or silver candies.
  6. Make the initials of the deceased with white covered Jordan almonds.
  7. Decorate edges if desired.