In the early days of The Armenian Kitchen, I received an email from a gentleman in MA asking if I had a recipe for Koolunja, a Kharpertsi variation of choreg. He went on to say that unlike the braided, softer choreg, koolunja has a drier texture that is cut into squares, triangles, or diamond-shapes. I searched but came up empty-handed.
Since I couldn’t oblige, I posted a request to readers of Kharpertsi descent asking for their help. I received only one response and passed along the recipe. He appreciated my help, but it wasn't exactly what he was looking for.
Just a week or so ago, I received another inquiry about Koolunja – this time from a woman in Fresno, CA. As I searched through my Armenian cookbooks and other resources, I found 3 variations of this ‘Old-Fashioned Choreg. I promptly sent along one of recipes, much to her delight.
|Koolenja (Koolunja, Kooroonja) - ready to serve with Sun-Ni Armenian String Cheese!|
(Note: As stated in the past, many recipes have different spellings and/or ingredient variations based on geographic locations.)
I made minor adjustments to the cookbook's recipe by incorporating some freshly ground spices that I love in choreg - mahlab, fennel seed, and anise seed.
If you prefer the taste of old-fashioned choreg, feel free to omit those spices.
I hope you’ll try – and – like this version!
Koolenja (or Koolunja - or- Kooroonja!)
Yields about 30 pieces, depending on the shape - and - how large or small the dough is cut.
½ lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted and cooled
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar (Note: If you prefer a sweeter product, you can increase the sugar to ½ cup, but then you might not want to add the optional seasonings listed below.)
Optional seasonings: 1 Tbsp. freshly ground mahlab, 1 tsp. ground fennel seed, ½ tsp. ground anise seed
1 pkg. (or 2 ½ tsp.) active dry yeast
½ cup warm water + ½ tsp. sugar
6 cups flour (Note: I used 5 ½ cups)
Egg Wash: 1 egg and 1 Tbsp. water, beaten
Garnish: Sesame seeds and/or Nigella seeds
1. In a large bowl thoroughly combine melted butter, milk, beaten eggs, salt, sugar, and optional seasonings, if using.
2. In a liquid measuring cup, combine yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and ½ tsp. sugar; cover and allow to proof.
4. Place dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size, approximately 1 hour.
5. Remove dough and place on a clean work surface. Pat down dough with your hands to create a rectangular shape that’s about ¾” thick.
|Dough patted by hand to 3/4 -inch thickness|
|Dough cut into triangles using a pizza cutter|
7. Place cut pieces of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet with enough room between them as the dough will expand while it bakes. Brush koolenja tops with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame and/or Nigella seeds.
|Ready to bake.|
8. Bake one tray at a time on the center rack for about 15 - 25 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces) or until golden brown.