Khashlama, a Newly Discovered, Very Old Armenian Recipe
By Robyn & Doug Kalajian
FLArmenians Cuisine Contributors
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
This time of year is filled with fund-raising events at St. David Armenian Church, Boca Raton, FL.- especially the month of February. To kick-off the fun-filled month, the Women’s Guild is sponsoring “Cupid Capers” Fun Night on February 11, serving Armenian delicacies and desserts, while Onnik Dinkjian, Harry Minassian, Leon Janikian, Ara Dinkjian, and Mike Gregian provide the best-ever musical entertainment. (Sorry, tickets will not be sold at the door.)
The following Saturday, February 18, the Mr. and Mrs. Club is hosting ‘Yerevan Night’ serving khashlama with potatoes as the main course with an assortment of other delicious items- plus games and activities for the entire family.
To round out the month, St. David’s Annual Food Festival takes place on February 25 and 26, featuring traditional Armenian delights such as lamb, chicken and losh kebab, kheyma, yalanchi, Armenian pastries and so much more.
That’s a lot of food and fun, my friends!
Flyers were mailed announcing each event, but what really caught my eye was the mention of khashlama, the featured dish for the ‘Yerevan Night” event. I didn’t recall ever seeing this on a church-event menu before, nor was I sure what ingredients the cooks were using for their recipe – except for the potatoes that were mentioned in the flyer.
I researched what constitutes khashlama, and here’s what I discovered: Khashlama (Hashlama), simply put, is a boiled meat dish, generally beef or lamb (or mutton, where available) seasoned with herbs and some salt – a stew, of sorts, in its most basic form.
Irina Petrosian, author of ‘Armenian Food – Fact, Fiction and Folklore’ describes khashlama as “a favorite for Armenian food lovers who enjoy natural, plain flavors.”
Petrosian also makes reference to khashlama from the cookbook, “The Oriental Cookbook – Wholesome, Dainty and Economical Dishes of the Orient, Especially Adapted to American Tastes and Methods of Preparation”, by Ardashes Keoleian, formerly of Constantinople, printed in 1913. Keoleian indicated that khashlama is an economical, popular dish where you make separate use of meat and broth.
His cookbook offers numerous khashlama recipes, including boiled brain, tongue, beef, part-or-all of a lamb, chicken, and more. Some khashlama recipes include vegetables, other versions are plain, but all of them have the basic components of meat and broth.
Here is the most basic recipe for Khashlama (Hashlama) from Mr. Keoleian’s cookbook:
BOILED MEAT A LA ARMENIA.
[Ebmeni Et Hashlama Teetibi.]
Meat 3 to 4 pounds, leg, haunch or shoulder of beef, mutton or lamb (or in desired quantity). Parsley 1 bunch. Dry Onions 2, medium. Tomatoes 2, ripe (or 3 to 4 tablespoonfuls of canned tomatoes). Salt and pepper, to taste.
Take the meat, wash and put in a vessel with sufficient amount of cold water. Bring it to a boil and take the scum off. Boil until the meat is tender.
After boiling the meat as directed, put the meat into a separate deep pan, pierce it on all sides with a pointed sharp knife, and chop over it the onions and the tomatoes.
(Some would insert peeled bulbs of garlic in the pierced places on the meat.)
Pour over a cupful of the broth. Season the whole to taste and place in a moderately hot oven until the vegetable ingredients are fully cooked.
Serve hot and sliced, use own gravy as sauce.
I found another version of Khashlama in the AGBU cookbook, ‘Flavors with History – Armenian Cuisine’, which is typically served in the region of Etchmiadzin. It sounded more to our liking so, I adjusted it to suit our palates, prepared it, and now share my version with you.
Khashlama – Boynton Beach Style (Serves 4)
2 lbs. lean lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes 1 large onion, coarsely chopped 2 fresh tomatoes, diced ½ large yellow pepper, coarsely chopped ½ large red pepper, coarsely chopped ½ cup flat leaf parsley (stems removed; leaves left whole) ½ cup crushed tomato ¼ cup tomato paste 2 cups lamb broth (water, beef or chicken broth can be substituted) 1 tsp. marjoram, or to taste, salt, black pepper and paprika, as needed
(Onions and garlic may be added to the recipe.)
1. Place lamb cubes in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Remove scum as it rises to the surface. Cook, uncovered, until meat starts to become tender, about 1 hour.
2. Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon; place in a casserole dish. Season meat with marjoram, salt, pepper, and paprika. Toss to coat.
3. Strain lamb broth and pour into a liquid measuring cup. Add water, if necessary, to make 2 cups.
4. Add the tomatoes, peppers and parsley to the meat in the casserole dish. Gently toss.
5. Mix together the tomato puree, tomato paste and lamb broth. Pour liquid over the meat and vegetables, gently mixing together.
6. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, in a moderate, preheated (350°F) oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking for additional 30 minutes, or until meat is very tender.
Serve in a bowl with bread (for dipping) or over bulgur pilaf.
Robyn Kalajian is a retired culinary teacher in Florida and Chief Cook at www.TheArmenianKitchen.com. Douglas Kalajian is a retired editor/journalist and Sous Chef at www.TheArmenianKitchen.com.
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 (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 http://www.TheArmenianKitchen.com. Douglas Kalajian is a retired editor/journalist (Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post) and Sous Chef at http://www.TheArmenianKitchen.com.