Romanian Coliva or Barley Porridge

Romanian Coliva or Barley Porridge

I finally managed to cook the traditional Romanian coliva, barley porridge. I used to make a lot another version of coliva made of boiled wheat (a bit more runny and with different flavours), my mum's Ukrainian recipe. This recipe I'm showing now has managed to impress me and not only me - it's a bit thicker, but you can clearly feel the wheat berries and the walnuts. The flavours blend in together perfectly and you mustn't forget about the coconut (it completes the flavour and the consistency with a final touch).

I assembled it in a ring cake pan (of about 26-28 cm in diameter), but you can transfer it to smaller dishes as well, depending on what you need and want.

This coliva recipe is another delicious discovery of the Romanian traditional cuisine - it's simple, tasty and vegan.


Pearl barley
500 g
2 l
1 tsp
350 g
350 g
Vanilla Extract
1 tsp
Rum flavour
1 tsp
Lemon zest
1 tsp
Cinnamon powder
1 tsp
Coconut flakes
100 g

Step by step


Pour 2 litres of water and 1 tsp salt in a heavy-bottomed pot or in a Dutch oven and place over heat.

You can also add 1 tbsp oil, so that the porridge won't stick to the pot. But if you have a good quality heavy- bottomed pot, this will not happen.


Meanwhile, we have plenty of time to weigh the pearl barley and wash well 9 times or more. The last time you wash it, the water should be relatively clear.


When the water comes to the boil, add in the washed barley right away.

Stir well and, when it comes to the boil again, turn heat down.


Cooking time may vary, but normally it should be ready in 40-45 minutes.

This is halfway through the cooking process, there is some water left and the mixture is still liquid. Don't forget to stir the pot, less often at first and more intensely and frequently as it gets thicker.


Here the porridge is ready, notice the wheat has soaked up all the water and the texture is denser.


Now stir in the sugar, mix well. Cook for another 10 minutes, mixing frequently.


Turn off heat. This was the boiling process.


Let cool completely for 4-5 hours. Cover with plastic wrap/bag or with a wet kitchen cloth, so that it won't form a skin on top.

Another tip is to scatter the chopped walnuts over the boiled wheat berries and let cool in the pot. In this case, there is no need for plastic wrap or cloth any more.


When cooled, you'll notice the porridge is very dense and thick - that's the way it should be.


I recommend chopping the walnuts not too finely, we want to feel some texture.

Then add them to the porridge, along with the vanilla and rum extracts, grated lemon zest and cinnamon. Mix everything together, better to use your hands here, it's a thick mixture and using the spoon can be strenuous.


Set the ring of the ring cake pan (without the bottom) on a plate and place the porridge inside.


Press and even out with a spoon.


Decorate the top with coconut flakes, walnuts, etc or you can dust with cocoa powder, like the traditional way. 

Because our coliva was for our personal desire and not for a special occasion, I kept it simple and I decorated it with walnut halves.


Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours for the flavours to blend, then serve.

For serving, I sliced it, just like a cake and it held together pretty well.


Quantity: 3500 g (15-20 servings)
Prep time: 200 min
Difficulty: intermediate
Ready in: 300 min
Publish date:

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