Erica Vendetti, a Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Armenia, was introduced to a delicious crepe entrée by her host mother. Now that she’s living on her own in Armenia, Erica wishes to recreate the dish she referred to as ‘blinshiek’. She contacted The Armenian Kitchen for help.
Erica said her host mother never used specific measurements, but rather, cooked by ‘feel’. The dish was described as a meat-filled crepe that’s rolled up and then fried again in a pan, and that it’s usually made for ‘Nur Tari’ (New Year).
My Armenian cookbooks revealed no such recipe, but the internet did. I found a recipe for meat-stuffed crepes – or –blinchiki, a dish of Russian origin. This didn’t come as a surprise to me. Since Armenia was once part of the Soviet Republic, some of their recipes may well have ended up in Armenian kitchens – including blinchiki.
Erica was delighted when I mentioned this to her; she commented, “Funny, every Armenian I've met in Armenia says it’s "haykakan" food. I'm not surprised if it has Russian origins. A lot of the words people in Armenia use are also Russian because they no longer use the Armenian word—it’s an interesting blend of cultures here!”
Erica then offered her thoughts on the crepe batter and a suggestion for the meat filling:
“I know here (in Armenia) Jermuk - the carbonated water - is used.
From what I could tell, the crepe batter was made with about 1 cup carbonated water, 1 liter milk, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons oil, 3cups flour and 3 eggs.
Of course, there's always cilantro in the meat for seasoning.”
My suggestion for a more Armenian-style ‘Meat - Stuffed Blinchiki’ would be this:
Prepare your favorite (non-sweet) crepe recipe, or purchase ready-made ones from your grocer. Fill each with one or two tablespoons of kufteh meechoog – again, your own recipe or my recipe below. Fold the sides and roll the end up to create an envelope.
Heat a lightly greased skillet over medium heat. Cook the stuffed crepe until light brown on both sides. Place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess grease. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of plain, thick yogurt.
Robyn's Kufteh Meechoog
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground lamb, beef, or turkey
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and finely chopped (or in this case fresh cilantro)
ground coriander, allspice, black pepper, paprika to taste
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup pine nuts
1. In a skillet, melt the butter, then add olive oil to heat. Add chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft - about 10 to 15 minutes.
2. In a separate skillet, cook the ground meat until it is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add meat to the skillet with the onions. Stir in the remaining seasonings, parsley, and pine nuts. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.