Taste an old Czech Christmas classic – “Houbovy kuba” – similar to risotto, a traditional Czech dish.

Houbovy Kuba is a popular Czech dish made from mushrooms, barley, caramelized onions, and garlic, spiced with marjoram and caraway.

Kuba is a Czech mushroom barley risotto, kind of.

It’s barley, sometimes called groats, cooked super soft and then baked with mushrooms.

The dish is often cooked during Christmas, especially in Southern Bohemia, where people fast before Christmas and abstain from meat.

Although the edible or brown bolete is traditionally used, using other full-flavored, firm fungi is acceptable. Houbový Kuba is frugal, filling, and has an intense flavor that belies its simplicity.

Mushrooms were found in the forests and Bohemia and were plentiful. In the US, I try to use the mini portobellos.

And mixed with even a tablespoon of dried, the foresty taste comes through.


To make houbový kuba, you should use pearl barley. If you do use hulled, however, increase the overall cooking time by about 20 minutes and add more stock or broth to prevent the barley from drying out.
Some people use a mixture of vegetable stock and the soaking water from the mushrooms, which not only gives the dish even more delicious mushroom flavor – not to mention nutritional goodness – but also takes it from a deep golden color to a dark brown, almost charcoal color. If you prefer lighter houbový kuba, though, just use stock or broth on its own. And yes, a couple of stock cubes dissolved in boiling water is absolutely fine.
Unlike risotto or other simmered rice dishes – houbový kuba, once cooked on the stove, is then finished for 15 minutes or so in the oven to bring out its flavor.

Ideally, you can use a cast iron skillet, shallow pan, or dish which can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven. Some people use two pans to cook the barley and onions separately, then pile it all into a greased baking dish.
Once cooked, serve the houbový kuba with some pickled vegetables, and enjoy the flavors of rural Czechia!

Real Christmas “Houbovy Kuba”

The Christmas dish “Houbovy Kuba” is sometimes called a mushroom or black Kuba. You will prepare a traditional old Czech dish with mushrooms according to the recipe for Christmas Kuba. If you don’t like grits, you can replace them with buns (grated or sliced). This recipe also includes this variant.


  • 1 1/2 cups of groats
  • 1/3 cup of lard
  • about 3 cups of water
  • 2 handfuls of dried mushrooms
  • small onion
  • a piece of crushed garlic
  • a pinch of marjoram, pepper and cumin
  • salt


  • Soak the mushrooms in water beforehand.
  • Fry the washed groats in lard, cover with salted water, and boil.
  • Fry the onion in the fat, add the chopped mushrooms (squeeze the water out of them), cumin and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the stewed mushrooms to the grits and spices.
  • When the groats are soft, pour them into a greased baking pan covered with breadcrumbs, grease the top, and bake for about half an hour.
  • Served with celery salad, beetroot, or green salad.

If you want to replace the hailstones with a bun, you must do a slight modification.

  • Use grated or sliced buns instead of grits.
  • Add four eggs.
  • Put twice the amount of mushrooms on eight buns.
  • Add some fresh spices to the seasoning.
Mushroom cube in bowl with spoon ready to eat
Source: 196flavors com

Mushroom cube from Groats

This recipe offers a unique and flavorful twist on the traditional mushroom Kuba dish.

While fresh mushrooms may be more challenging during the winter months, the effort put into finding them will be well worth it for the delicious taste they impart.

With careful attention to quantity and preparation, this recipe will impress and delight up to six lucky diners.


  • 1 1/2 cups of groats
  • 1/3 cup of pork or goose lard
  • 1/3 cup of onion
  • salt
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of fresh or 1/3 cup of dried mushrooms
  • caraway seeds
  • clove of garlic
  • marjoram
  • a little lard for sprinkling on the finished dish


  • First, wash the groats in cold water. Let it drain.
  • Melt lard in a saucepan.
  • Fry finely chopped onion in lard.
  • Add groats, fry slightly, salt, and cover with water.
  • Cover with a lid and cook until soft, preferably in the oven.
  • Now, focus on the mushrooms. The fresh ones will need to be cleaned and cut into slices. Pre-soak the dried ones in milk.
  • Simmer the mushrooms prepared in this way with cumin on lard for about 15 minutes. After that, mix with the cooked grits.
  • Season with grated garlic and marjoram. You can also afford a little pepper.
  • Put the mixture in a greased baking dish, sprinkle the surface lightly with lard, and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
Hail cube on a plate decorated with fresh parsley
Source: tresbohemes.com

The original old Czech Kuba from the oven

  • Cook the grits with garlic, salt, cumin, and a spoonful of lard until soft.
  • Boil dry mushrooms separately and chop.
  • Always place a layer of cooked grits and a layer of cooked mushrooms in the greased baking dish. The last layer must be semolina.
  • Sprinkle the surface with melted lard.
  • Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.
Mushroom cube being prepared on a baking sheet
Source: macromagician.wordpress.com

Mushroom Kuba with smoked meat

You can make the Christmas Kuba recipe unique with smoked meat. It is not a traditional Old Bohemian dish, as it contains a meat component, but if you cannot do without meat, you can add it.


  • 1 1/2 cup of groats
  • 1 1/2 cup of smoked meat
  • 1 handful of dried mushrooms
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 eggs for dipping
  • salt


  • Boil the smoked meat in water. When it is cooked, take it out.
  • Take some of the broth and stew the mushrooms in it.
  • After the meat, boil the grits in the broth.
  • When they are soft, drain and rinse.
  • Mix the grits and diced cooked meat. Also, add onions, mushrooms, garlic, and salt.
  • Place the prepared mixture in a greased baking pan.
  • Bake in the oven for about half an hour.
  • Finally, cover the cube with milk and beaten eggs and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Or replace the last point with a drizzle of lard, as in the recipes above.
Mushroom cube on a plate with smoked meat and pickles
Source: radkahoraczech.com

Why did bohemian ancestors eat mushrooms at Christmas?

The Bohemian ancestors’ tradition of eating mushrooms at Christmas can be traced back to the composition of meals among Catholics during the Christmas Eve fast.

This fast required abstaining from animal foods, with the exception of aquatic animals. As a result, Bohemians mainly consumed cereals, vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms during the holiday season.

Mushrooms were an important part of this diet because they were considered a substitute for meat. They were also regarded as a symbol of abundance due to their high fertility. This symbolism was especially important during Christmas, which is a time of generosity and plenty.

It’s worth noting that mushrooms are not only a part of Bohemian Christmas Eve cuisine, but also a common ingredient in Polish, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian holiday meals.

This highlights the cultural significance of mushrooms in Eastern European cuisine and their enduring popularity during the festive season.

Milan & Ondra

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