Saturday, April 13, 2013

Agra Hadig, another Armenian Tradition

When asked what the significance was of “Agra Hadig”, I scoured my resources. A vague recipe, and very little information was all I found.

Doug and I had never done ‘agra hadig’ with our daughter, nor do I recall my sister doing this with her children. I seriously doubt that this tradition was done with my siblings and me, either – at least I never heard mention of it. I do know that “agra” means teeth, and “hadig” is a grain dish, but that’s about it.

Modern technology to the rescue …
I discovered a wealth of information about agra hadig from The Library of Congress, CA, with a submission by Jim Rogan, Representative (27th District).

Here’s what is written:
“Armenian First Tooth"
"The centuries-old Armenian tradition agra hadig is celebrated worldwide by Armenians, no matter where they live -- Armenia, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, or the U.S. Agra means "tooth," and hadig refers to a traditionally cooked wheat dish eaten on this occasion. The agra hadig celebrates the appearance of the baby's first tooth. The mother props the infant up on a table or on the floor and places five objects in front of the child; the first object the baby selects predicts his or her future occupation. Before the child makes the selection, its head is covered using a veil or a scarf, onto which some hadig is sprinkled to signify a wish for fruitfulness.
If the child picks up a book or a Bible, s/he will be a scholar, teacher, or clergyperson; if the child chooses money, s/he will become a banker, financier or wealthy person; if the baby selects a hammer, s/he will be in the building trades; a knife symbolizes a doctor or a surgeon; and scissors foretell a life as a seamstress or tailor. In afternoon celebrations, only females attend and only sweet foods are served. When the party is held in the evening, males also attend, and a full Armenian buffet dinner is served. Although merriment prevails, underlying the gaiety is a genuine concern for the future well-being of the child, its social status and its economic prosperity. While the first tooth sets the timing for this divinatory event among Armenians, in other cultures, it frequently occurs when the child is one year old. Storytelling is an integral part of "first tooth" celebrations, and gifts are brought for the baby.”
Thank you, Library of Congress, and Jim Rogan!

What prompted me to write about agra hadig now, is that we witnessed this event the day after our great-nephew’s christening to celebrate his emerging teeth. For the record, our little one selected a book – a very scholarly choice, indeed!  

The following recipe was prepared by our niece-in-law (the baby’s mother), and her mother.
Agra Hadig
Agra Hadig

2 cups wheat pelted** (wheat berries, quinoa, or large couscous may be substituted)
Wheat Pelted
(Pelted wheat can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
4 cups water (more if needed)
1 cinnamon stick (NOTE: 2 tsp. ground cinnamon may be stirred into the cooked wheat if a cinnamon stick is unavailable)
4 Tbsp. brown sugar, or to taste
About 1 c. assorted chopped nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc.)
Any of the following:
Raisins, chopped dried apricots, pomegranate arils, dried cranberries, etc.
NOTE: Reserve some of the chopped nuts and fruit to sprinkle on top as garnish.
**NOTE: Wheat pelted or pelted wheat is wheat kernels that have been cleaned, pearled and polished.
1. Rinse the pelted wheat and place in a medium to large heavy pot. Add 4 cups water, one 3-inch cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil. Cover pot; reduce heat and simmer on medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed – about 40 minutes. If wheat is too firm after 40 minutes, add some hot water and continue cooking until wheat is tender. Discard cinnamon stick.
(Note: if using another type of grain, follow package directions for cooking.)
2. Strain wheat through a colander. Place in a bowl, cool, cover and refrigerate until serving time.
3. Just before serving stir in the 4 Tbsp. brown sugar, most of the nuts and fruit pieces.
4. Arrange wheat mixture on a serving platter. Sprinkle the remaining chopped nuts and fruits on top as a garnish.


  1. I can't wait to try this out when Lyla gets her first tooth/teeth! And what a coincidence that you would experience an Agra Hadig after we had been emailing about it!

    Thanks Robyn!

    1. Lindsay, I thought of you as soon as I heard we were invited to this event. Please be sure to document Lyla's agra hadig so you can share it with us. Thanks!

  2. A lovely post. What a neat tradition.

  3. hi there, how many does this recipe serve?

    1. This is generally served in small portions, so I'd say it yields about 12 servings - give or take.

  4. When we make this traditional dish we serve the Hadig plain and have small bowls with various garnishments such as coconut flakes, crushed (small pieces) of walnut, colourful sprinkles, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, brown sugar, dried apricot (cut pieces), cinnamon. You can essentially add any dried fruit or nut and garnish it to your liking. I love sweets so I load with many toppings

  5. Hey Vee, that's exactly how I remember Hadig to be like! I used to ask my mom to prepare Hadig even when there wasn't a first tooth ceremony.