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Armenian Cooking Tradition

cookingShayla Srabian
Jennifer Keledjian
Staff Writers

Once upon a time, a young Armenian girl named Shushan, came of age and was ready to throw her own dinner party.  She asked her mother, Azniv, to help her with the preparation, since Shushan knew very little about cooking.  She too wanted to be a part of a traditional Armenian family, where good homemade Armenian food was tradition.

The preparation for the party was not very tedious or difficult.  In fact, it was quite simple because Shushan’s mother did all of the cooking.  With this in mind, Shushanís mother started out by preparing the cheese borag:
1 lb. filo dough or puff dough, 1 lb. Jack cheese, grated
 1 bunch of parsley, chopped , 2 eggs
 1 lb. butter or margarine, melted

After Azniv combined the cheese, parsley and eggs, she buttered the first sheet of dough and folded it as directed.  She added one large spoonful of the cheese mixture to the dough, folded into triangles and placed the item on a cookie sheet.  She baked the appetizer at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

“What would a nice dinner be without hommos”, thought Shushan’s mother.
1 can garbanzo beans, juice of 1 large lemon
 1 clove garlic, crushed, 1/4 cup tahin
 1/4 tsb. salt, parsley, paprika, oil

Azniv blended the Garbanzo beans.  She then added tahin, lemon juice, salt and garlic.  She placed the mixture in a serving dish, sprinkled it with parsley, paprika and oil.  Azniv had been wondering what the main dish would be for the evening.  She decided that she would make everyone’s favorite- pilaf and dolma.

She knew this recipe by heart:
1 cup long grain rice,1/2 cup vermicelli
 1/8 lb. butter, 2 cups chicken broth,salt to taste

Shushan’s mother melted the butter and broke up the vermicelli into pieces to fry in the butter until slightly browned. After washing and draining the rice, she added it to the vermicelli and sautéed them together for several minutes.  Then she added the boiling broth and salt, covered the pot and cooked on low fire for 20 minutes.

The last item on the menu was dolma.  “Everyone loves dolma,” Azniv exclaimed.  She started gathering the ingredients together:
1 lb. lamb or beef, 1/4 lb. rice, 2 medium onions, finely chopped
 A few sprigs of parsley, chopped
 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste
 Vegetables:  tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini squash, grape leaves

Azniv proceeded to mix the ingredients together by hand in a bowl.  She stuffed the hollow vegetables and used water and tomato sauce to cover over the uncooked dolma.
During the party, everyone complimented Aznivís wonderful cooking.  They couldnít believe what an excellent cook she was.  Many of the guests enjoyed the meal and were ready for a second helping.  Shushan said, “A perfect ending to a perfect meal would be a piece of kurabia.”  This is a famous Armenian dessert that will always satisfy your sweet-tooth.

Azniv checked for the ingredients:
1/2 lb. butter with water and salt removed
 1 cup sugar, 2 cups flour

Azniv began preparing the dessert.  She creamed the butter thoroughly, added the sugar and then mixed well.  She gradually added flour until the mixture became flexible.  She rolled the dough into circular shapes and baked at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.  The guests loved the final touch of kurabia to such a spectacular evening.

Armenian Studies presented Armenian Cooking 120T on the weekend of September 25-26.  Instructed by Norma Der Mugrdechian and Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, the class of 20 students learned techniques, ingredients and tricks to preparing many of the common Armenian dishes and delicacies.  Not only did the class have a fun and enjoyable time, they also enjoyed the excellent cook as well.

A participant of the class, Armen Ghanbarian stated, “Mrs. Der Mugrdechian was fun.  She helped me appreciate Armenian cooking.  She was an excellent instructor.”  The class was not only a positive reinforcement for those who wanted to learn to cook, but also allowed students to engage in fellowship and meet new friends, whom have one similar interest in common- the need to learn to cook.

The recipes mentioned in this article were graciously contributed by Norma Der Mugrdechian.