Tuesday, April 24, 2012

97th Armenian Martyr's Day

Yerevan's Armenian Genocide Monument
Once again we join Armenians around the world in marking the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which claimed the lives of up to 1.5 million people.

We remember not only our own loss, but all the innocent
victims of all the genocides that have occurred since.

We pray that the world will have the courage to stand firm and banish forever this most inhuman of all human crimes.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another Satisfied Customer! Chamanichur - a fenugreek and water sauce

Remember Bob? He’s the fellow who was looking for ‘chamanichur’. After a bit of emailing back and forth seeking more details from his memory bank, asking readers for suggestions, and researching recipes, we finally hit the jackpot!

I sent Bob the following recipe, then he began his own journey to find fenugreek in order to bring the recipe to life.
Once Bob read the recipe I sent, he replied: “Thank you so much!!!  This seems to be it, as it combines chemen and water as per the name of the sauce. My grandmother used it as a sauce for liver, and we think sometimes for fish too!”

Here is the recipe I sent for Bob to try:

Chemen Recipe
From the cookbook ’Armenian Cuisine: Preserving Our Heritage’, St. John Armenian Church, Southfield, Michigan. Recipe submitted by: Nancy Kazarian and Dolly Matoian

½ cup fenugreek (chemen)
½ cup paprika
4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne (red pepper)
4 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
7/8 to 1 cup water

Using amount desired, combine in a large bowl, all ingredients except the garlic and water.

Add the crushed garlic according to your taste. Begin adding water, a little at a time, so that the mixture has the consistency of cake batter.
This mixture can be used in various geragoors (stews) with spinach, lamb, etc., or in Armenian hamburgers, or even in pastry dough for mezza. It can be kept in a plastic bag or bottle in the freezer, to be used as needed. The recipe may be doubled or tripled.

 Bob’s final result:
"I finally got the chaimen (fenugreek) seeds in a shop in the center of town, a Pakistani friend told me where to get them, they call them "methi" in their Urdu language.

Chamanichur Paste
Chamanichur with Scrambled Eggs

Here are the pictures of the chamanichur, and also of scrambled eggs with chamanichur.
(I remembered I had had eggs with pastirma in Turkey, so I thought this would be a good combination).
The chamanichur sauce has to be added in very small quantities, as the stuff is quite strong!!!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"HREN" - What exactly is it??

I admit it…sometimes I need help finding a recipe or answering a question. That’s when I turn to certain ‘helpers’ and readers.

Here’s one of those hard-to-answer questions that came my way. I sought the help of one of my Armenian Kitchen buddies, who provided the answer below. Please take a look, and if any of you can shed some more light on this topic, I’m all ears!

“Hello: This is a question regarding an Armenian spice. My grandmother called it "hren" phonetically with a guttural ‘ghr’ sound. I believe it is a type of basil or marjoram. Can you clarify this for me and also let me know if there are seeds for this?”

‘Hren’ definition submitted by Ara Kassabian:
Regarding ‘hren’, this is what I have found: According to the Malkhasian dictionary (the closest thing to the Oxford English Dictionary for Armenian), "khren" (variants: jakhuk, dzovaboghk, wild beet, kren) is the Armenian word for cochlearia armoracia (horseradish). Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseradish.

FYI, the Malkhasian is now searchable online, thanks to nayiri.com.
It sounds like this is what (the reader) is looking for. I never knew the name before, but I guess I know now! :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Request for Satsivi - Chicken in Walnut Sauce, a Georgian recipe

Sometimes I get requests for recipes other than Armenian ones. Here is one such request:

My name is Tamara,
   …It is such a pleasure to read the stories (in your blog) of different Armenian people, and where various recipes come from!!
I was wondering if there is an Armenian version of a Georgian (correct me if I'm wrong) dish Satsivi (chicken in a walnut sauce)?

I am Armenian (from my mother’s side) living in London. I have recently started reading a lot about Armenian history and trying to catch up with the country I deeply love in my heart, but know so little about. And so in my search I came across your blog- and reading it makes me very happy! I am trying one of your recipes tonight- very excited!
Thank you so much in advance!”
Tamara's Satsivi - Chicken in Walnut Sauce
In response to Tamara’s request, I sent her the recipe below, explaining that although I’ve had this recipe for quite a while, I've never made due to my husband’s allergy to walnuts. (Maybe it works with pecans??)
I don’t know if the recipe I sent Tamara is an Armenian version of this traditionally Georgian dish, but there is a similar recipe in Alice Bezjian’s ‘The Complete Armenian Cookbook’.

Here is my recipe:
Chicken with Walnut Sauce
Serves 6
Ingredients for preparing the chicken:
1 (2 to 3 lb.) whole chicken, rinsed and cut in half
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
One small bunch of parsley – leaves and stems
4 peppercorns, lightly crushed
Salt to taste
Water (about 3 to 4 cups)

Sauce ingredients:
2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed
1 cup of the chicken broth (from above procedure)
1 ½ to 2 cups walnut pieces, toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for chicken:
1. Place rinsed chicken in a large pot with the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns, salt, and enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook over medium heat for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Add water during the cooking process, if necessary. Remove any foamy scum that rises to the surface.

2. When chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth; allow to cool a bit, then remove the meat, discarding the skin and bones. Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks. Set meat aside, keeping it warm.
3. Strain broth through a sieve. Discard the vegetables, peppercorns and any unwanted particles. Set aside strained broth separately from the chicken. Measure out one cup of broth. Place remaining broth in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid; refrigerate and save for another use.

Directions for Walnut Sauce:
1. Toast the walnuts in a dry, non-stick skillet, until their fragrance fills the air; do not burn. Cool slightly.

2. In the meantime, soak the slices of bread in the 1 cup of the reserved chicken broth, about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid; place bread in the bowl of a food processor.
3. Add the walnuts; blend until it resembles a paste. Add the garlic, coriander, paprika, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Blend until the mixture has thickened slightly.

To serve:
Place chicken chunks in a serving bowl. Pour walnut sauce over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Serve cold.

NOTE: Traditionally, this dish is served cold, but it may also be eaten immediately after preparing.
In addition to my recipe, I sent Tamara two others I found online – one from ‘Recipe Goldmine’; the other from an Australian website.

When all was said and done, Tamara sent me her final response:

Once again thank you for your help! I have ended up doing a Georgian Satsivi- it was quite a bit of work! But we really liked it!! Though I must say that I have overdone it a bit with the spices, probably next time I will get it right!!
I ended up using a recipe from YouTube, but I have modified it a little bit, as I was cooking for only 2 people, and I had chicken fillets. I have used less water than in the recipe video, to achieve a thick Satsivi sauce, also I have used much less garlic.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In Defense of Zadigi Kahke

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no doubt about it. But I was truly surprised by the negative comments about the Zadigi Kahke recipe.
Zadigi Kahke prepared by
Robyn in The Armenian Kitchen

After having carefully studied the original cookbook recipe (ingredients and procedures), and having had my questions about the recipe answered in a personal consultation with the “Armenian Cuisine” cookbook authors, I was ready to bake. Realizing the amount of flour listed in their cookbook was incorrect, one of the authors warned me as to avoid a baking disaster (it's 6 cups of flour rather than the 2 2/3 cups mentioned in the cookbook). I corrected the flour amount which, in an earlier post, had the incorrect amount, then I made certain the new post had the correct measurements listed, too. (If you own the"Armenian Cuisine" cookbook, you’ll have to hand-correct the amount of flour yourself!)

I stated in the more recent blog that even though shaping the dough was a bit tricky, I successfully made an enormous batch of cookies using my own technique (also described in the story).  At the end, I included my comments and evaluation to provide guidance.

Perhaps the entire story wasn’t read before those comments were submitted, I can’t be sure. But what I do know is, with patience, this recipe does work, and the end product is pretty tasty, too!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


My Las Vegas friend, Christine Vartanian Datian, has been busy again creating and preparing recipes which are then published in 'Sunset'  – as well as - 'Cooking Light' online magazines. Recently her recipe for ‘Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta’ appeared in Sunset's online magazine.
Christine Datian's Proscuitto and Asparagus Pasta
 (Photo credit: Annabelle Breakey)
When Christine asked what I thought of the recipe, I told her it sounds delicious, however, I’d replace the prosciutto with basturma, but, hey, that’s just the Armenian in me!

In the past, we've  featured a few of Christine's other recipes, including Spicy Southwestern Tabbouleh, Bulgur Pilaf with Onions and Tomato Juice, and Red Lentil Soup.

Check out her new recipe, as well as the others, and give each of them a try.

In keeping with Christine's recipe theme and the fact that it's springtime, I thought I’d share some background  information about ASPARAGUS:
  • A member of the lily family, asparagus is in its peak-season from February to June, although it’s available year-round.
  • The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board states that asparagus is “one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence.” It provides a good source of Vitamin A, and contains a fair amount of iron and Vitamins B and C.
  • First cultivated about 2,500 years ago in Greece, ‘asparagus’ means ‘stalk or shoot’, which also explains why asparagus is classified as the stem of the vegetable plant.
  • The most tender, young stalks are a light green with a hint of purple in the tips. White asparagus, preferred in Europe, is grown underground to prevent it from turning green. The spears of the white variety are generally thicker and smoother than the green variety. There’s also a purple variety known as ‘Viola’.
  • When buying asparagus, look for firm, bright green (or pale ivory) stalks; the tips should be tight. Generally speaking, asparagus with thick stalks come from more mature asparagus plants, but that does not detract from their taste or nutritional value.
  • It is recommended to cook the asparagus the day of purchase, however, it should keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator if tightly wrapped in plastic. It can also be stored standing upright in a glass filled with about an inch of water, covered with a plastic bag.
  • Since asparagus is grown in sandy soil, be sure to wash the stems and tips thoroughly to remove any grit.
  • Before cooking, snap off tough ends. If you like, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer of the stalk.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Teereet (Tirit) Armenian-style Egg Salad

So, you have some leftover Easter eggs and are wondering what to do with them? Here’s an idea… Teereet (Tirit) – Easter Egg Salad, Armenian style.
The Kalajian family's Teereet
When Lucine Kasbarian emailed me her family’s recipe for ‘Tirit” over the weekend, I had a startling realization. I wrote about my mother-in-law’s ‘teereet’ recipe 2 years ago, but neglected to include it in the recipe link on the website! Although our recipes are spelled a bit differently (I spelled ours ‘teereet’), the ingredients in both versions are pretty much the same. The Kalajian recipe is now officially added to the list, which you’ll be able to compare with Lucine’s family’s version below.
Thanks, Lucine!

Lucine noted the following:
"Armenians customarily served tirit following Lent on the Saturday before Easter, and on Easter Sunday after the egg competitions are done.

... the egg is a pagan symbol of rebirth, widely used in spring festivals before its adoption by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus.

Friend Arevig Caprielian, born in Armenia, tells that the "red" coloring of the eggs symbolizes the blood of Christ. In Armenia on Easter, after the egg competitions, families plant the cracked egg shells into the earth."

Tirit (Egg salad)           From Lucine Kasbarian
Serves 6

 6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
 1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  Chopped scallions optional
 Salt and black pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's Zadigi Kahke (Easter Cookie) Time!

When I posted Hermine Kabbenjian’s request for Zadig Kahke in January, I included – with permission from authors Aline Kamakian and Barbara Drieskens - the recipe from their cookbook, ‘Armenian Cuisine’

Zadigi Kahke (Easter Cookies)

I hadn’t made the cookies at that point, but decided now (Holy Week) was the time to try. Before I did, however, I emailed Barbara because I had a few questions about two of the ingredients (it’s great that their email addresses are in the cookbook!). I’m so glad I wrote, because Barbara informed me that there was an error in the printed recipe – the cookbook said to use 2 and 2/3 cups flour, when in fact, it should be 6 cups of flour. With this correction, and my questions answered, I got busy in the kitchen.

Here is the corrected version of the Zadigi Kahke recipe. Below it you’ll find my notes and final evaluation.

Zadigi Kahke (from the cookbook “Armenian Cuisine”)
Yield: About 50 cookies

Cookie Ingredients:
6 cups flour, sifted
2 cups farina, sifted
1 cup butter, melted
½ cup sunflower oil
½ cup vegetable shortening, melted
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 tsp. ground mahlab
1 ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. dry granular yeast (1 packet)
1 egg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ground cloves
A dash of salt

1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk

1 Tbsp. raw sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. black cumin

1. Using a stand mixer, blend one fourth of the flour and farina with all of the other cookie ingredients. Mix until well-combined.

2. Gradually add the rest of the flour and farina. Knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth.
3. Divide the dough into several balls and place them in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then with a clean towel. Let dough rise for 2 hours.

4. Roll balls of dough into fine sausage-shapes that can be formed into twists, rings or braids.
5. Place shaped dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush with egg glaze made by mixing together one egg and 2 Tbsp. milk. Sprinkle tops with either sesame seeds or black cumin.

6. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until cookies are golden, about 15 minutes or so.

Robyn’s Notes:
1. I almost followed the recipe exactly. Since I couldn’t find sunflower oil, I used safflower oil, a baking and cooking oil, instead. (Barbara felt it would work just fine, and it did.)

2. My dough did not rise at all. I’m not sure if that was because the yeast was stirred directly into the other ingredients rather than adding it to lukewarm liquid first.
3. The dough was greasy to the touch, so I had to knead a bit more flour into it.

4. After shaping some of the dough into ring shapes, I gave up. Instead, I took a ball of dough and pat it down on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, I rolled the dough into about a ¼ inch thick rectangular shape, then used a fluted roller to cut the dough into stick-shapes. I followed the baking direction from the recipe.
5. Since the original recipe did not mention how long to bake the cookies, I had to keep an eye on them. At 350°F, it took the cookies about 15 to 20 minutes to reach a nice, rich, golden color.

The Armenian Kitchen’s Evaluation: These are pretty darn good! I don’t know if my cookies turned out the way Aline’s do, but we like them – a lot! I also don’t know what the texture should be. The ring-shaped cookies came out softer; the stick-shaped ones, crispier, and I’m a fan of crispy.
If any of you decide to try this recipe, I’d love hear how yours turned out!

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's almost time for Easter!

With Holy Week upon us, Christians around the world are preparing for the Holiest day of the year - Easter Sunday.

Easter is a time of renewal just as springtime reveals a new light in our hearts with blossoming trees and plants, a symbol of rebirth.

Are you ready to celebrate this joyous occasion? Dress up your Easter baskets, and get ready to delight your family and friends with an unforgetable meal.
Roasted Lamb
To refresh your memory of last year's pre-Easter blog, click here to review some of our favorite holiday recipes, then add a few of your own for a truly memorable celebration.