Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reader Feature: KHEYMA - Ourfatsi-style from the family of Ara Kassabian

Kheyma - Ourfatsi-style

Ara Kassabian is one of my go-to people for certain Armenian recipes. A few years ago, he shared several Lenten- appropriate recipes with The Armenian Kitchen in the comment section of another post. Since readers might not have seen it, I’m presenting his family's Kheyma recipe as a Reader Feature. I have already posted Ara’s Turluh (tourlou) recipe, which is really delicious. Kheyma isn't just for Lent; it can be served any time of the year.

In reference to Kheyma Ara stated, “This is a recipe that comes from my aunt's sister-in-law (Digin Arshalouys). My aunt married into a family of Ourfatsis and this recipe is from that region. I am reproducing the recipe as I received it from my mom.”

Kheyma – Ourfatsi Style
Serves 4 to 6

1 (16 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained, BUT save the liquid - and - reserve 2 Tbsp. chickpeas for garnish
(NOTE: It's best to remove and discard any loose skins from the chickpeas before proceeding with Step #1. It's tedious, but worth it!)
 1 1/2 cups (or a little more) #1 (fine) bulgur (available in Middle Eastern stores and some    specialty grocers)
 salt, pepper (Aleppo red pepper is preferable) - to taste
 cumin, to taste, optional
  2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
  1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  Red pepper paste mixed with the tomato sauce (optional)   
  juice of 1 small lemon
  2-3 tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste) mixed with a little water.
  1small onion, minced
   2-3 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
   A bunch of Italian flat-leaf Parsley, finely chopped
    Garnishes: Reserved whole chickpeas, minced parsley and red pepper slices (fresh or roasted red peppers may be used)

Draining chickpeas; saving its liquid for Step #1
Chickpeas mashed with fork


1. In a medium sized bowl, mashed the chickpeas with the back of a spoon or fork, leaving it fairly coarse. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, add the chickpea liquid from the can. Add the bulgur and stir until it is combined with the liquid.  Set bowl aside until the bulgur softens, about 15 minutes.
3.  After the bulgur softens, add the mashed chickpeas and stir to combine. Add salt, pepper, and cumin and garlic, if using. Stir in the tomato sauce mixed with red pepper paste (if using).  Mix them until well-combined. Add lemon juice, tahini, onion, green onion, and parsley. Add more lemon juice or water if it is too thick. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.
4. Mound the kheyma on a platter and garnish with the reserved chickpeas, minced parsley, and red pepper slices.

Serve with Romaine lettuce leaves, fresh grape vine leaves (in season), red pepper slices, crackers, or just put some in a bowl and eat with a spoon! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Baked Broccoli and Cauliflower

Baked Broccoli and Cauliflower

To start you off on the right foot this Lenten season, here’s a very simple, tasty vegetable side dish you’ll want to make. To cut down on preparation time, today’s markets offer already cut fresh broccoli and cauliflower in the produce department, making this dish a snap to prepare. The addition of sesame oil delivers a slightly nutty flavor which elevates these veggies to a higher level!

Baked Broccoli and Cauliflower
Serves 4 to 5
1 small head broccoli
1 small head cauliflower
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (NOTE: You may add ½ tsp. each of dried oregano and dried basil, if desired.)
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, optional
Garnish: Lemon wedges, optional

Broccoli - cauliflower florets
1. Wash broccoli and cauliflower; cut into florets. 
2. Place broccoli and cauliflower florets in a 6 qt. pot. Add enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, and run cold water over florets to stop the cooking process. 

Time-saving Tip: The broccoli and cauliflower florets can be microwaved in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 to 3 Tbsp. water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, poking holes in the plastic cover. Cook on high power for 3 to 4 minutes. (Avoid overcooking them in the microwave, as they will continue bake in the oven.) Drain, rinse with cool water. Continue with recipe as directed.
Bread crumb-sesame seed  topping

3. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, dried herbs and sesame seeds, if using. Set aside.
4. Place broccoli and cauliflower florets in a rectangular baking dish with 2-inch sides that's  large enough to hold them. Add the olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, salt and pepper; toss to coat vegetables. Spread the florets evenly in the baking dish; sprinkle the bread crumb mixture to cover the vegetables. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top.

5. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350°F oven for about 20 -25 minutes, or until bread crumbs begin to turn golden brown. 

Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lent 2015

(Image from ianyan e-magazine)

I’m taking this opportunity to re-post the following item regarding the Lenten Season as it relates to the Armenian Church. During the next few weeks, I will post some more appropriate recipes to help you through this period. We already have a fair number of Lenten recipes in our repertoire. Just type 'lent' in the search box, and this will direct you to numerous delicious recipes.

If, by chance, you have a Lenten recipe to share, I’d love to hear from you  (, then you could become one of our ‘Reader Features’, too!

Lenten Information:

Lent, as all Christians know, commemorates the 40 days of fasting of Jesus Christ. This year, the first day of Lent in the Armenian Church begins today, Monday, February 16th.

According to the book Saints and Sacraments of the Armenian Church by Bishop S. Kaloustian, Lent begins on the Monday following the Sunday of Poon Paregentan or "day of good living," which is a time to feast before the fasting of Lent begins, and ends the evening of the Friday before Palm Sunday.

Lent is a time of self-discipline. We are instructed to "examine ourselves, strengthen our character, renew our purpose in life, and to make penance to correct our faults, weaknesses and sins." At the same time, we resolve "to be more humble, more gentle, and exercise self-control over our appetites."

Humans have many appetites, of course, and many of the faithful try to keep the whole range in check by avoiding dances and other amusements.

Sadly, there's no loophole for us food lovers.

In fact, the Armenian church is stricter than most Western Churches when it comes to food abstinence during Lent. Western Churches generally call for abstaining from meat, but Eastern Christians abstain from "all kinds of flesh meat, including fish, and all other animal foods, i.e. dairy products and eggs."

Of course, this was a bit less of a challenge in the days when meat and eggs weren't necessarily part of the daily routine. These days, at least here in America, we don't know many people who follow Lenten law to the letter.

But many of us do give up one or more of our favorite foods, while others take the opportunity to get in touch with their inner-vegetarian.