Recipe for Koliva – Wheat Grain for Greek Orthodox Memorial Service

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Koliva is made for funeral and memorial services and distributed to those in attendance.  Koliva is made primarily of wheat, which is symbolic of life and regeneration.  Like wheat, people are buried in order to grow and have a new life.

KolivaWheat Grain for Greek Orthodox Memorial Service (Koliva) Recipe Ingredients:

  • 4 cups wheat grain, shelled
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds, lightly toasted
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups finely ground Zweiback, graham crackers, or paximadia
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • .5 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Almonds, powdered sugar, silver candies, walnuts or white raisins for decoration (optional)

How to Make Koliva:

Wash the wheat thoroughly to get rid of any grit or sand. Add the wheat to a large pot. Fill the pot with water, add a few pinches of salt, and bring the water to a boil.

Cook the wheat until it’s fluffy and tender – this should take about 20 minutes.

Strain the wheat and let the water drain out thoroughly.

Prepare a surface by layering some towels down. Spread the wheat thinly on the towels and allow drying overnight.

Add the wheat, walnuts, almonds, raisins, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and 2 tablespoons of the ground toast/crackers to a large mixing bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place the mixture in a tray or bowl that you would like to use. Press the mixture down to smooth it out and shape it (mound for tray or flat for bowl). Sprinkle the remaining toast/crackers on the top of the mixture to cover (no need to use all the crackers).

Sprinkle the powdered sugar generously on top.

Decorate the top with any of the ingredients you choose. It is traditional to adorn the top with a cross.

PLEASE NOTE: Greek recipes can be slightly different based on a variety of reasons, such as the region of Greece that the recipe is being made in. If you have seen this Greek recipe made another way, please send us an email to greekboston@worldwidegreeks.com and we will evaluate your suggestion. Thanks!

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This post was written by Greek Boston