Sunday, April 5, 2009

Savory or sweet, it's still chorag!

Chorag is a traditional Armenian braided yeast roll. Some like sweet chorag; others a bit savory, so the recipe varies from household to household.

But whatever your preference, chorag is always served with cheese and strong coffee.

Some cooks might be a bit intimidated by the intricate shape, but don't be fooled. It's a snap. Check out the video by clicking Read more! for the recipe.

A dear family friend, Anne Marootian, is one of the best Armenian cooks I know. I don’t know how much cooking she still does now that she's in her 90's, but to me she’s still the “Queen of Chorag.”

Here's a slightly modified version of her recipe for crisp, flaky chorag that tastes rich but feels light.

Anne Marootian’s Chorag

Yield: Approximately 2 ½ to 3 dozen


½ lb. unsalted butter

1 cup milk

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

1 egg

1 Tbsp. each of GROUND mahlab**, fennel seed, anise seed

(** Mahlab is the dried “heart” of the cherry pit. It can be purchased in most Middle Eastern stores. If you can’t find it, you can omit it; the taste will be slightly different, but still delicious.)

½ tsp ground ginger

1 pkg. dry yeast

2 Tbsp. baking powder

5 to 5 1/2 cups flour


1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water (for egg wash)


1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add milk and heat gently. Cool.

2. Beat egg and add to cooled milk.

3. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water (about 105-110° F). You can check the temperature with a food thermometer, or by putting a drop on your wrist. If it feels comfortable to your wrist, the temp. is good to go. Set aside.

4. Mix sugar, salt, spices, and baking powder together. Set aside.

5. Place 5 cups of the flour into a large mixing bowl. Combine the blended spice mixture into the flour.

6. Add the milk-egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir in the dissolved yeast, and mix well.

7. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If the dough seems a bit sticky, add some of the extra ½ cup flour that wasn’t used earlier.

8. Place dough in a large, clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then cover that with a towel. Allow to rise for 2 hours.

9. Break off about a golf ball-size piece of dough. Roll it into a long, thin rope, about 16 inches in length. Break off about one-third of the dough. Shape the longer piece of dough into a horseshoe (U) shape. Place the shorter piece of dough in the center of the “U”, and begin braiding the 3 strips of dough.

10. Place the braided dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Continue to shape dough until tray is full. (Don’t place chorags too close to each other. Give them room to expand while they bake.)

11. Let shaped dough rise on the tray for one more hour before baking.

12. Brush tops with beaten egg. (This is the egg wash.)

13. Bake at 375° F. on the bottom oven rack until the bottom of the chorag is golden (about 15 minutes). Then transfer the tray to the top rack until the top of the chorag is golden (about another 5 minutes). Cool chorag on cooling racks.

14. Continue this procedure until all dough is shaped and baked.

15. Store completely cooled chorag in a container with a tight-fitting lid, or place in freezer bags, and freeze until ready to serve. They can be thawed in the microwave - simply wrap each chorag in a paper towel, and microwave for about 30 seconds on low to medium power, or until defrosted.

SPECIAL NOTE: This recipe can easily be doubled.


  1. My grandfather loves this! He is Armenian..well i am to, and we make it every easter, except we use the blackk seeds inside of the choreg and put sesame seeds on the outside! Great Recipe!

  2. Robin, I read another recipe of choreg that call for use of clarified butter (Ghee). What are you recommend ?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Clarified butter can certainly be used to make chorag. If you try making the other recipe, I'd love to know how it worked for you.

  3. My father's 88 birthday is coming up and his favorite Cheoreg is not sweet. He says it has a licorice flavoring but not sweet. He describes it as having black seeds and he loves this cheoreg. Is this something an amateur can do and do well!

    1. Some cooks seem to be intimidated when working with dough; it's really easy. If shaping chorag into braids doesn't appeal to you, make any shape you like - sticks, circles, 's'-shapes. This recipe, which is not sweet, provides the licorice taste from the ground anise seeds. The ground fennel seeds and ginger add a nice touch, but may be omitted. Nigella seeds or black sesame seeds can be added as well. Good luck, and Happy Birthday to your dad!

  4. I would like to take (sincerely polite) exception to "it is always served with cheese and strong coffee". My Nanny made this every Christmas and Easter, and I have no memory of my Nanny ever serving it with cheese. Oh how we loved this bread. Thank you for sharing your family's recipe.

    1. As tastes vary, I stand corrected, Leisa. I should have noted that in our home, chorag is always served with cheese and strong coffee. :)

  5. My mother and grandmother would make I believe it was a choreg with a cheese topping it almost looked and tasted like what you would use for Bedek. Is that so. Can you help me out I'd like to try to make it but I am not sure what I would use.I believe that the dough is the choreg base and then that was placed in a shallow pan and made into a valley for the cheese filling to be put in the valley and then cooked. I have no ides what they call that either.
    Thank you for your help

    1. Hello Steph, Please forgive my delay in responding; I am recuperating from surgery. I don't have a recipe based on your description, and my research has not revealed one like it either. The closest recipe I can provide is one my grandmother used to make, banerov hatz, dough that's topped with a mixture of cheeses, onions, and seasonings, then baked. Onions may be omitted.
      Here's the link:
      If you'd like, I can post a request; perhaps a reader will have a suggestion.

  6. I csn't find my mom's recipe and was going to make this by myself for the first time. I'm curious if one egg is correct for that much flour. I know there are thousands of chorag recipes out there, and I like the recipes I've made from your blog. Thank you for your help, and I hope you're feeling better after your surgery.

    1. Hi Ani, I've been making this recipe for decades with great results using one egg in the dough. Make sure it's a large egg and it should be fine. BTW, I'm healing well - thanks for your concern. Happy Easter!

    2. Thanks for the help. Happy to hear you're on the road to recovery.

  7. I'm just curious, I made a different recipe and did not like the results, too dry and crumbly. It too had baking powder. Why add baking powder to a yeast bread?

    1. This answer comes from a molecular biotechnologist: "Yeast is added to bread because it metabolize sugars in the dough to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. Alcohol improves the bread taste and carbon dioxide increase the size of the dough.

      Baking powder is added to dough to improve the texture."

      I couldn't have said it better. Hope this helps!

  8. I love chorag but have developed a bad wheat allergy does anyone know how to do this gluten/wheat free and with no egg?