Saturday, October 5, 2013

Celery Stew with Kufteh Balls and Egg-Lemon Sauce

When one has a craving for a certain recipe, they’re not satisfied until they experience  the lingering flavor of that special food. 

Aunt Arpie
Such was the case recently with my aunt Arpie. We discuss recipes all the time. She often shares her childhood Armenian favorites with me, and this time she was craving ‘Celery Stew with Kufteh Balls’. 

The manner in which Aunt Arpie describes a recipe is sheer poetry. Her description of the celery stew was so heavenly, she made my mouth water! Since she’s not cooking much these days, I promised to prepare her celery stew recipe, making enough to share with her.

Celery Stew with Kufteh Balls
Aunt Arpie’s  Celery Stew (Geragoor) with Kufteh Balls and Egg-Lemon Sauce
Serves 4-6

To make Kufteh balls:
(Makes about 24 kufteh balls)
1. Combine until well-mixed:
Kufteh balls
  •    1 lb. lean ground lamb, beef or turkey
  •    1/3 to ½ cup fine (#1) bulgur
  •   1/4 cup finely chopped onion, optional
  •    Salt, pepper, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, allspice, paprika – according to your taste
2. Shape into balls the size of large marbles. Place on a plate.
3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to add to the stew.

Ingredients for the celery stew:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch celery, thoroughly washed, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) – add a bit more, if needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for sauce:
2 egg yolks, beaten
Juice of 1 lemon

Directions for the celery stew:
Stew Step #1
Stew Step #2
1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Sautė celery, onions and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes.
2. Add broth and kufteh balls. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Partially cover pot. Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender and kufteh balls are cooked through.

Directions for the Sauce:
1. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolks and lemon juice.
2. Spoon a little of the hot broth into the egg-lemon mixture, stirring briskly to prevent the egg from coagulating. (This process is called tempering.)
3. Slowly stir the tempered egg-lemon mixture into the large pot of celery stew. Cook gently for another 5 minutes.
4. Serve immediately with a loaf of crusty bread.

Recipe Variation:
The celery stew can also be made with lamb neck bones with meat instead of the kufteh balls. NOTE: This procedure should be done a day in advance.

Recipe Variation Procedure: If using the lamb bones, cook them in a pot with enough water to cover the bones. Bring to a boil, skimming-off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, for about 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. Remove neck bones from the broth. Allow to cool enough to so that the meat can be removed from the bones. Discard the bones. Store meat, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to add to the celery stew (in step #2 of celery stew directions).


  1. Dikranagertzi to the boneOctober 8, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    How interesting! I've never really seen an Armenian dish with celery. What region is this from? The lemon egg mixture is reminiscent of the Greek Avegolemono soup.

    1. I can't say for sure what region this recipe is from, but this was given to me by my Dikranagerdtsi aunt whose mother used to make this way back when.

    2. My grandmother was from Kharpert, and she made this with lamb on the bone. One small variation - she would throw a stick of cinnamon into the pot. Fantastic winter dish w/ or without pilaf.

  2. This recipe - using lamb on the bone - is superb! My grandmother - a Kharpertsi - made it often and it is still the very best way to enjoy celery! The flavors compliment each other perfectly - there's nothing like it.