Monthly Archives: June 2011

Florida Representatives Cosponsor Legislation Urging The Republic of Turkey to Safeguard its Christian Heritage

Florida Representatives Cosponsor Legislation Urging The Republic of Turkey to Safeguard its Christian Heritage

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor

On Tuesday, June 15, H. Res. 306, legislation “urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties” was introduced by House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairman on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). Congressman Ed Royce is also the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues (Armenian Caucus). H. Res. 306 calls for the “return to their rightful owners all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties, including movable properties, such as artwork, manuscripts, vestments, vessels, and other artifacts,” in Turkey.

Joining Congressmen Royce and Berman were 30 original cosponsors, including Florida Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Congressman Bilirakis represents Florida’s 9th Congressional district (Palm Harbor) and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Homeland Security Committee and is Vice Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Rep. Bilirakis has a strong voting record in support of Armenian issues, including Armenian Genocide affirmation, and is the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida’s 25th Congressional district (Miami) and Chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)












Both Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Bilirakis are members of the Armenian Caucus. However, although voting in support of Armenian Genocide resolutions in 2000 and 2005, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted against the same legislation in 2007 and 2010.

In addition to H. Res. 306, on June 15 Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) along with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced H. Res. 304, the Armenian Genocide resolution. Congressman Bilirakis joined his Armenian Caucus colleagues by cosponsoring H. Res. 304 on July 16. He is the only Member of the Florida delegation to consistently cosponsor Armenian Genocide resolutions. Both bills have been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee where they await committee action.

As the size of the Armenian community expands throughout the state, it is important for Florida Armenians to inform and educate their elected officials about important issues and concerns. From state and local governments, to our Representatives serving us in Congress, Florida Armenians are ready to play an active role in having our voice heard in Washington.

* This story was updated on July 18 at 8:47 p.m.


A New Fusion Cuisine is Born: Flormenian Cuisine (Floridian-Armenian)

A New Fusion Cuisine is Born: Flormenian Cuisine (Floridian-Armenian)

By Robyn and Douglas Kalajian
FLArmenians Cuisine Contributors

The best part of mango season here in Florida is the end, when the ripe fruit tumbles from the trees and spreads across lawns and backyards.

Friends beg you to take home a bag or two. Some people actually leave piles of them by the curb, inviting passers-by to scoop them up.



We came home with a surprise armload of free mangoes the other day and decided to try something a little different instead of the usual mango desserts. We had lamb on the brain, as usual, so we settled on a lamb-mango stew.

Mango isn’t part of the Armenian kitchen tradition, but apricots and other fruits are. We wondered, could our local bounty be a tasty substitute? The short answer is: Yes!

We knew mango and lamb would work because it’s done in India, although the recipes we found were variations on curry. We wanted a more traditional Armenian taste, and we also wanted to keep it simple.

We have a habit of freezing lamb tidbits — the pieces that don’t quite work as kebab — so we started by defrosting a container full. We also cooked up some fresh neck bones and picked the meat off them. (You know the drill: You just boil and boil, and then boil some more.)

We wound up with about two cups of well-trimmed lamb meat, and about three cups of broth. Basically, we added about two cups of sliced mangoes, seasoned the mix and kept on cooking.

The main seasonings: sumac, coriander, onions and garlic. If you’re not familiar with sumac, you should cozy up as soon as you have the chance. It’s a tart berry, almost lemony but with a unique flavor.

We infused the broth by placing two tablespoons of the whole, dried sumac berries in a tea strainer and letting it simmer for about 10 minutes.

The sumac balanced the sweetness of the mango perfectly. We also added a little heat with some fresh, diced ginger and a heaping tablespoon of Aleppo red pepper.

The result tasted something like an Armenian chutney: sweet, but not too sweet.

Overall, we were really happy (and a little surprised) at how nicely it all came together. One thing we’d change: I put all the mango in the broth with the lamb and let it all cook together for almost an hour. As a result, the mango pretty much melted. I should have reserved half the mango for the last 10 or 15 minutes for more fruity chunks.

Armenian Lamb Mango Stew

Armenian Lamb Mango Stew

Armenian Lamb Mango Stew (serves 4)

2 cups cooked, trimmed lamb meat

3 cups lamb broth (or chicken broth)

2 cups sliced, fresh mango

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon finely diced fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons whole sumac, or 1 teaspoon ground sumac

salt and black pepper to taste

1 cup fresh yogurt

a few springs of fresh mint


1. Start with broth in a stew pot, reserving the lamb. Bring to a simmer.

2. Place the sumac in a tea strainer and lower into the broth. Leave it there about 10 minutes, until the broth is flavored. If you don’t have a strainer, or whole sumac, you can just add ground sumac when you add the other seasonings. If you don’t have either, use a tablespoon of lemon juice.

3. Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil until just soft but not brown, then add to the broth.

4. Add 1 cup of the sliced mango, reserving the other.

5. Add the lamb.

6. Add the red pepper and coriander, plus salt and black pepper to taste.

7. Cook it all for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mango is blended and the lamb is tender.

8. Add the rest of the mango and cook another 10-15 minutes.

Serve over white rice or pilaf if you like. Garnish each serving with a dollop of cold yogurt and a sprig of fresh mint. And don’t forget to eat the mint!

Robyn Kalajian is a retired culinary teacher in Florida and Chief Cook at Douglas Kalajian is a retired editor/journalist (Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post) and Sous Chef at