Friday, March 9, 2012

Topik - an Easier Version!

When I wrote about the Lenten appetizer “Topig” (Topik) two years ago, I linked my story to blogger Joumana's site ( since she had already gone to the trouble of preparing the recipe and posting it so beautifully. I still haven’t tried the authentic version of topig, and but gave it some serious thought with the return of Lent.

Easy Topik, a la The Armenian Kitchen
My counterpart in Yerevan, Sonia Tashjian, must have been reading my mind because as I was considering making topik, she  emailed me her simpler version, which you will find below. Her method sounded more my speed, in that the ingredients are mixed together, without the tedious shaping and stuffing. It’s still a bit of work, but not as daunting for the time-constrained cook.
TOPIK, an easy method from Sonia Tashjian
Yield: 15 pieces
1 lb. of chick peas (soaked for 12 hours)
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
2 onions, finely chopped
½ cup of tahini
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper (cayenne) – use more or less, according your taste
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried mint
Dash of salt
Nuts (such as pine nuts) & raisins (or currants), if desired

1.      Fry the finely chopped onions in oil.
2.      Grind the chick peas, with an electric meat grinder.
3.      Mix, until well-combined, the cooked onions, mashed potatoes, tahini & the spices to the ground chick peas. Also add the raisins (or currants) & chopped nuts, if using.
4.      Cut an old, but clean tablecloth (or cheesecloth) into 15x15 cm (6”x6”) squares. Prepare 15 squares.
5.      Put a small quantity (the size of a ping pong ball) of the mashed chickpea mixture on each square, then tie as a parcel with string & cook them in salted, gently boiling water, until the parcels rise to the top.
6.      Let them cool. Untie the parcels.
7.      Serve with fresh lemon & olive oil.

Now that you’ve seen Sonia’s recipe, here is my take on it.
Ingredients I used:
1-16 oz. can chick peas, drained, rinsed, skins removed
2 small red potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cut in half
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup tahini
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. red (cayenne) pepper
¼ tsp. black pepper
 1 tsp. dried mint
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup pine nuts, chopped
¼ cup currants

How I prepared it:

1. Sauteed the onions in hot oil in a skillet until softened. Set aside.
2. Processed the chick peas and cooked potatoes in a food processor using the metal “S” blade.
3. Placed the ground chick peas, potatoes and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl; mixed well.
4. Using my hands, kneaded the ingredients together, making sure the mixture would hold together. (NOTE: kept a bowl of water nearby to dip my hands, if mixture felt a little dry.)
5. Shaped the mixture into 21 ping pong sized balls.
6. Cut 21 (6”x6”) squares out of two-ply cheesecloth, and 21 (10”) strands of kitchen twine.
7. Wrapped each ball in a cheesecloth and tied the top with a piece of twine.
8. Cooked several topiks at a time in a pot of salted, gently boiling water, until they floated to the top (about 5 to 7 minutes).
9. Rmoved each from water; allowed them to cool on a wire rack; untied them.
10. Served the topik with a drizzle olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon.

Our Verdict: Very enjoyable! Doug said it reminded him of a combination of hummus and midia dolma – minus the mussels; I loved the sweetness of the currants and tartness of the lemon juice, but feel a pinch of cinnamon would have enhanced the flavor a little more.  


  1. Hi Robyn!

    I once went to an "Armenian" restaurant in Carlsbad, CA and had a lemon-chicken soup that was very tasty. I don't see it on your list of recipes and wondered if it perhaps wasn't truly authentic Armenian cuisine. What is your take on this? I'd love to see a recipe for it if it is authentic because I'd make it at home!


    1. Hi Lydia,
      We do have a chicken soup recipe on the list, Armenian Chicken Soup, from George Mardikian's cookbook, 'Dinner at Omar Khayyam's'. Here's the link:
      If you try it (and I hope you will), let me know what you think.

    2. Thanks for the fast reply, Robyn! I am glad I came back to check today. :-) I will try the Chicken Soup after lent. I am SO happy that it is on your website. After I try it, I will definitely let you know how it turned out. Thanks a lot!

  2. I have found an even easier recipe for Topik in this blog:

    (you have to search the word topik in this blog, I dont know how to link to the specific blog entry)

    It is made as layers (like in a casserole) instead of balls.

    I made it once and it was delicious.

    I even made it even simpler to make by using store bought caramelised onions.

    I hope you enjoy it!

    1. Bob, Thanks for the heads-up on another, easier, topik recipe - plus your own time-saving tip! I'll save this preparation technique for next year. It's kind-of-like making sini kufteh, minus the baking.

  3. Many thanks to all of you for those recipes, it is very interesting to compare with what we are doing at home.

  4. You have completely destroyed topik, they aren't supposed to look like oatmeal-raisin cookies. If you aren't going to do it properly, what's the point of doing it at all?

    1. Your purist attitude is appreciated, but not everyone can - or - is willing to make the authentic version of topig/topik. The shortcut method provides the "taste" satisfaction.

  5. I even freeze it for when unexpected company show up.
    For myself, I take out a few and have a feast. thank you for the short cut version.