This dish is traditionally known in Western Ukraine, especially the Carpathian Mountains as “Kulesha”, in Romania and Moldova as “Mamaliga” and in Italy as “Polenta”.
Kulesha is similar in texture to cornbread, but is cooked in a saucepan on the stove. As it cooks, it gets very thick and difficult to stir. Baba had a wooden dowel she used mainly for stirring the Kulesha.
Baba and Gedo made it frequently, usually eating it with cottage cheese (or brinza, a cheese made from sheep’s milk) and sour cream. I liked it best sliced in slabs and served with borscht or chicken in sour cream sauce. Give it a try. Get adventurous with the recipe e.g. add fried chopped bacon, onions, peppers, etc.
The bread machine version of this recipe is now posted. If you are feeling more adventurous or do not have a bread machine try the scratch version.
The KOLACH is the traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper centerpiece. Three braided loaves, which commemorate the Trinity, are stacked one on top of the other. A candle is set in the middle of the top loaf to symbolize Christ, the “Light of the World”. Its round shape gives it its name - “kolo”, a circle - symbolizing eternity. An old custom was the communal sharing of bread, honey and salt. Starting with the oldest member of the family, small pieces of kolach dipped in honey and salt were offered with the greeting “Chrestos rezdayetsia” (“Christ is born”); they would response, “Slavitey Yeho” (“Glorify Him”).
Patricia Caine (nee Rusnak) is originally from Thunder Bay, ON. Both her parents came to Canada from the Ukraine. She has put these recipes together as a tribute to her parents, for her family and Canada's 150th.