Sunday, July 31, 2011

Katah (Gata) with Filling

A request came from Azam for filled katah (gata). His description was a bit vague, but I managed to find a recipe in my copy of the St. John Armenian Church (Michigan) cookbook, “Armenian Cuisine- Preserving Our Heritage”. The recipe was submitted by Nancy Kazarian and Dolly Matoian noting that this version came from a Russian-Armenian katah recipe.

I sent it to Azam. He wrote back saying:
“This does sound familiar, especially the filling. I am not an expert in baking but I do manage my way with flour and sugar. I bake non-bread-like pastries better, since I am terrible at kneading the dough… I will give this a try this weekend and let you know how it turns out. Thanks again for looking this up for me.”
I’m hoping Azam will try making this because only he will know if this is truly the taste he’s after.

Easy Khoritzov Katah Rolls
1 pkg. (2 ½ tsp.) active dry yeast
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs
8 oz. sour cream or plain yogurt
4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Filling (Khoriz):
1 cup flour
½ cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
Egg Wash: 2 eggs, beaten – OR- 2 egg yolks, beaten

Making the Dough:
In a small measuring cup, dissolve yeast over warm water (110 - 115°F) and whisk in sugar and flour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise. Meanwhile, beat butter in bowl of a mixer. Add eggs, beating until well-blended. Add sour cream (or yogurt), softened yeast and salt. Mix in flour a little at a time in small amounts only until you have a soft dough. Knead by hand or mixer until smooth and soft. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size.

Filling Directions:
Toast the flour in a sauté pan over low heat, stirring until it very slightly changes color. Add melted butter and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Place in a small bowl, mixing to incorporate. Cool slightly and divide onto 4 pieces of waxed paper.

Katah Preparation:
Divide the risen dough into 4 equal-sized balls and cover with plastic wrap on a work surface. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball to about ¼ inch thick rectangle, about 7” x 10”. Spread with one of the four reserved fillings. Roll up lengthwise as you would a jelly roll.

Two choices to shape:
1. Slice in ½” to ¾” slices. Turn on their sides on a parchment-lined tray, straighten into circles.
2. Cut into 2” to 3” lengths; place on parchment paper-lined tray with seam on the bottom.

Cover tray with plastic wrap and allow to rise.
Brush with egg wash and place in a preheated 375°F oven for about 10 minutes. Turn tray, reduce heat to 350°F and bake another 7 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

NOTE: Katahs keep well in an airtight container, or can be frozen.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Request for Katah (Gata) with a Particular Filling

Paradise Bakery, California
I know there are those of you who love a good katah (gata); I’ve posted stories and recipes for it in the past. I recently received a request for a katah (gata) with a specific filling. Here’s what reader Azam is looking for, and if any of you have a recipe that fits his request, please email it to Thank you!

In the meantime, I’ll be hunting down a recipe, too.

“Hello Robyn,
When I lived in Iran, the Armenian bakeries made this semi sweet pastry with a yellow dry filling and a golden brown top (result of generous egg wash+ ???). They used to call it Gata. It was delicious. Since I can't go to Iran to get some Gata, I was wondering if you had the recipe or could put me in the right direction. I have googled it a bit and haven't come across one that sounds right, specially one with that filling. I would greatly appreciate any help in this regard.”

I asked Azam for a bit more information about the filling, and this was his response:
“The filling is sweet-but not too sweet. If I have to guess, I would say it has egg yolks and some sort of starch/flour in it. It is not heavily moist or creamy at all.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

Are the days of Armenia's backyard butchers coming to end?

Our want of a good, local butcher is a source of endless grousing at our house. The grocery store just doesn't measure up -- the meat's just too chewy -- and the high-end specialty stores aren't enough of an improvement to justify the extra cost or the longer drive.

Worse, we know our disappointment is unlikely to diminish unless our options expand. We've seen a shrinkage in both grocery chains and independent markets over the years, even as the population of South Florida boomed.

My complaints, though, were tempered by some recent meat-safety news from Armenia. The Web site reports that animal slaughter commonly takes place in people's yards, not in slaughterhouses.

“Yard slaughter is fraught with the danger of spreading various infections,” consumer rights expert Victor Abrahamyan was quoted as saying. He noted that such slaughter is carried out without professional supervision, in unsanitary conditions.

Apparently, safer and more sanitary slaughter houses were more common in Soviet times but the meat industry has regressed since then. Abrahamyan's consmer protection group, with backing from UN food experts, is urging businesses to build proper facilities.

The story notes that authorities are also trying to stem the sale of unrefrigerated meat. That brought my attention to two other news items.

Eighteen villagers in the Ararat region were reported poisoned by eating boiled meat. They were hospitalized, and luckily all survived. The health ministry suspects the meat was stored above proper temperature.

Meanwhile, the head of Armenian's Food Safety Service, Grigory Grigoryan, has been dismissed. No reason was given, although it was noted that he had been given an "unsatisfactory" evaluation.

I guess the good news is that it all points in the right direction: Armenia is apparently becoming more conscious of food safety and trying to improve conditions.

At least, it makes me feel a little better about our local supermarket.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tolma Festival, Armenia

On several occasions, we’ve written about the fine art of dolma-making, the traditional Armenian stuffed meal. We’ve made dolma the usual way by scooping and filling the vegetable cavity with meat, grain and seasonings. We’ve also prepared it in a non-traditional fashion - dolma deconstructed, both with pleasing results. Purists would balk at our non-traditional method, but sometimes time-constraints force us to take drastic measures in our meal preparation.

With summer’s vegetable bounty, this is the time to get creative with your dolma recipes. If you’re looking for some recipe suggestions, read this article about Armenia’s Tolma festival in an article written by Gayane Mkrtchyan for

You might be inspired to try something new the next time you’re hungry for dolma/tolma.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cuisine Information Request: Adapazari and Kungular. Can Anyone Help?

At the end of May a reader commented on our post about Bulgur Pilaf – Dikranagerdtsi-style:

She wrote: “ mother came from Adpapazar... I wonder if there are any recipes or ways of cooking from that area?? Also, what about people who originated from Kungular which is 60 miles south of Istanbul.”

My curiousity piqued; I emailed her in return:
“When I read your comment, it got me thinking. I don't have any information about the regions you've mentioned, but I'll happily (do some research) and post your request for our general readership to see if anyone can help.
Are you sure of the spellings you gave me? It would be most helpful in the search.

Adapazari Squash Photo from Giants Forum
 What I did discover (from Wikipedia) is that there has been an Armenian community in Adapazari since 1608. There is a variety of squash called 'Adapazari winter squash' which grows quite large, has a gray exterior with large ribs, and is very tasty when steamed with butter, salt and pepper. I know there is a borag (borek) by this name, but haven't found a specific recipe (for it).”
I haven't come across any useful information about Kungular.”

Audience, here’s where I need your help … if anyone has an answer to this reader’s request, please email me: Thanks!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spinach and Bean Stew

There are times when we just don't feel like eating meat. It might have something to do the fact that we often  aren't pleased with the quality of meat sold in our markets.
Ingredients for Spinach and Bean Stew

When the non-meat feeling strikes, we turn to our favorite veggie and bean combinations - with no (or little)-fuss preparation. If you know what I mean, then try this Spinach and Bean Stew. It can be served hot (with the bulgur or rice on the side) or at room temperature (without the bulgur or rice) with crusty bread to soak-up the juices.
Feel free to jazz this up by using chard instead of spinach, the bean of your choice, or adding a splash of your favorite vino!

Spinach and Bean Stew

Spinach and Bean Stew
Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ red or yellow pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth (vegetable or beef broth may be substituted)

14 oz. can diced tomatoes with its liquid
2 tablespoons tomato or red pepper paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup canned beans of your choice (Ex: white beans, chick peas, butter beans, lima beans), rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cups cooked bulgur or rice, using your favorite recipe

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion until soft, but not brown. Stir occasionally.
2. Add the pepper and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the broth, tomatoes and liquid, tomato (or pepper) paste, oregano, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. While the stew simmers, cook the bulgur or rice according to package directions. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
6. After 20 minutes, add spinach and beans. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add the parsley just before serving.
7. Serve over bulgur or rice - or with crusty bread.
For the Record: I used red pepper paste and added a little bit of red wine to the cooking liquid to add that special 'something'. Since I was out of parsley, I had to omit it from the recipe.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Yogurt with Nuts and Fruit

Have you had a chance to make our recipe for homemade yogurt? or Sita Jebelian's microwave oven method for making yogurt? No? It doesn't matter. You can still enjoy this simple, refreshing recipe using a good-quality, store-bought variety.

This treat is satisfying anytime, day or night, throughout the year.
Ingredients used

Yogurt with Nuts and Fruit
Yield: 2 servings

1 cup plain yogurt, homemade (preferred) or good quality store-bought
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
A drizzle of honey
¼ cup fruit (dried fruit, such as currants – or – fresh berries, peaches, etc.)
3 Tbsp. walnuts or pecans, chopped

1. Mix together yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon and honey. Chill until ready to serve.
2. Just before serving, gently fold in nuts and fruit- or just sprinkle them on top.

Homemade Madzoon (Yogurt) with Fruit and Nuts
Note: For this recipe I used homemade madzoon, fresh cherries and chopped pecans... Delicious!