Vegan Chard Kebbeh | Panjarov Bahki Gololag [Keufteh]


Vegan Chard Kebbeh and its numerous adaptations is a staple food on Armenian tables during the 40 days of Great Lent, known as [ Medz Bahk ] or [ Karasnok ] in Armenian and sometimes referred to as [ Aghouhatzk ] by the Armenian Church.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-00

Now that Mid-Lent [ Michink ] is just around the corner, I found it befitting to post this Lenten recipe. Mid-Lent is considered a special day amongst Armenians; it is the 24th day of Lent and happens on the Wednesday of the fourth week, hence March 26th.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-01

Cooked kebbeh can be made-ahead and frozen flat, without sauce, and then transferred into freezer bags.  Just thaw in the fridge overnight and toss in sauce day of serving.  It can also be cooked and chilled a day in advance and tossed in sauce the next day.

The filling is made with Swiss chard leaves and onions flavored with sumac, allspice and ground coriander seeds.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-02բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-03

The shell is made with a mixture of bulgur and coarse semolina kneaded to a pliable dough-like consistency.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-04

To assemble croquettes, make an indentation on one side using your index finger and gently keep rolling around to enlarge. Spoon some filling inside, push down, and slowly pinch ends together to seal and shape.  I usually make 40 medium-small pieces.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-05բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-06

Kebbeh is cooked in a pot of salted and oiled water and tossed in sauce.  It is best served at room temperature of slightly chilled.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-07բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-08

The first option for a sauce is an herbed walnut sauce with pomegranate molasses and mint that does not require cooking.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-09բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-10բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-11

The second is a garlic and onion sauce with red pepper paste and ground coriander seeds that requires cooking.բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-12բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-13բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-14բանջարով_պահքի_կոլոլակ-ancient_christian_traditions-meatless-vegetarian-15



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14 oz Swiss chard (բանջար), chopped, about 2 large bunches
8 oz Spanish red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons sumac (աղտոր)
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds (գինձ)
1/3 teaspoon red Aleppo pepper
3/4-to-1 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice (դարապղպեղ)
2 teaspoons olive oil
a pinch or more citric acid

shell dough:
1 cup extra fine No.1 bulgur (բլղուր, ցորենի ձավար)
3/4 cup water, plus more as needed
1 1/4 cups coarse semolina
1 1/2-to-2 teaspoons fine salt
1/2 teaspoon red Aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds (գինձ)
1 teaspoon red pepper paste
1 tablespoon wheat flour, optional

herbed walnut sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
2-to-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons red pepper paste
1/2-to-1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1/4 teaspoon red Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons dried mint (անանուխ)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/3-to-1/2 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon water

garlic sauce:
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1-to-1 1/2 cups onion, sliced
pinch of salt
7-to-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds (գինձ)
1 tablespoon red pepper paste
1-to-2 tablespoons water, only if needed

Prepare filling. Blanch chard leaves in a pot of salted water set to a gentle boil. Remove, transfer into a colander and squeeze out as much water as possible; you will have to repeat this step several times. Spread between two layers of paper towel and press down until completely dry. Allow to cool to room temperature.

To a bowl, add onions, sprinkle with coarse salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Rub onions against each other, squeezing with your hands to do so, to release onion water (which is bitter) and wilt onions (do not cook). Rinse in cold water, drain well, and squeeze all water out; you will have to repeat this step several times. Once again, spread between two layers of paper towel and press down until completely dry.

Combine prepared chard, onion and remaining filling ingredients. Set aside until needed.

Prepare shell dough. Mix bulgur with 1/2 cup of water and let stand for 15 minutes. Knead until mass starts to form a paste, adding an additional 1/4 cup of water as you do so. Add semolina and remaining shell ingredients. Knead to a soft, pliable, sticky but not wet dough-like consistency; this will take time, be patient and add more water if necessary as needed. Cover with a damp cloth and rest for an hour. Divide kebbeh shell dough into 40 equally-sized balls.

Assemble kebbeh. Have ready a bowl of cold water; to wet hands as and if needed when working. Working with one ball at a time, make an indentation on one side using your index finger. Keep gently rolling around to enlarge and thin shell walls. Spoon some filling inside, push down, and slowly pinch ends together to seal and shape. Place onto a sheet pan and repeat; keep everything covered with a plastic wrap to prevent excess drying as you work.

Cook kebbeh. Bring a pot of salted and oiled water to a boil. Drop assembled kebbeh into the pot one at a time; not all at once. Bring to a gentle boil on low-heat and cook until soft but not disintegrated; about 20-to-30 minutes. Remove to a platter with a slotted spoon. Bring pot back to a boil, lower the heat and proceed with the rest. Gently toss in herbed walnut sauce or garlic sauce. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Prepare herbed walnut sauce. Combine all ingredients together; no cooking required.

Prepare garlic sauce. Add onions and a pinch of salt into a saucepan and sauté until translucent. Add garlic, then coriander and pepper paste. Sauté for a couple minutes; adding water if necessary.

* Cooked kebbeh (without sauce) can be frozen flat then transferred into bags. Thaw in the fridge overnight then toss in sauce.
** Kebbeh can be cooked and chilled a day in advance. Prepare and toss in sauce before serving the next day.


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