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Kollyva: Greek Funeral & Memorial Boiled Wheat

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In Greek: κόλλυβα, pronounced KOH-lee-vah

Kollyva is a traditional dish served at funerals and memorial services. It is generally served from a large tray, spooned out into cups or on small plates. There are many versions, but all start with whole wheat kernels. It is generally made in large quantities so all who attend can receive a small amount.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of hulled wheat
  • 7/8 cup of ground walnuts
  • 7/8 cup of ground blanched almonds
  • 1 1/3 cups of crushed toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 1/4 cups of ground chickpeas (or chickpea meal or flour)
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 1 pound of confectioner's sugar
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 5-6 lemon leaves
  • Jordan almonds (koufeta)
  • Silver dragees

Preparation:

Wash the wheat well. Boil in plenty of water for 5-10 minutes and drain. Transfer to a large pot and add fresh water, covering the wheat plus 3 inches. Boil until the wheat kernels open (in a pressure cooker, this takes about an hour; in a regular pot, at least 2 hours).

When the wheat is done, stir in the salt, cook for another 2 minutes and remove from heat.

Place the lemon leaves in the bottom of a colander and add the cooked wheat on top to drain.

Spread the wheat and lemon leaves out on a clean white towel laid out on a marble or stone surface to dry (about 4-5 hours).

Combine ground cinnamon and cloves to mix well.

When the wheat is completely dry, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Place on doilies on a tray and decorate with Jordan almonds and silver dragees according to church custom.

Kollyva is served in heaping tablespoons in cups or on small plates to each person attending the funeral or memorial service.

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