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Meat Boregs – Detroit Style

By Robyn and Doug Kalajian
FLArmenians Cuisine Contributors

After two years of preparation and anticipation, the 111th Diocesan Assembly and Clergy Conference in beautiful Boca Raton concluded on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

Boreg-Lahmajoun Table

It was a whirlwind week of events with hundreds of attendees from Mid-Western, East Coast, and Southern states. In addition to the planned sessions and meetings, guests participated in luncheons, kef time (featuring the music of Johnny Berberian), area sightseeing, and a gala banquet honoring Armenians of the Year – Janet and Edward Mardigian, and Friend of the Armenians – former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The week-long gathering culminated with a lavish farewell Sunday brunch for departing Very Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian of St. David Armenian Church.

I had a mini part in the grand scheme of things, but it was exciting just the same. Many of our seasonal visitors rolled up their sleeves alongside local parishioners to help create the massive menu for the farewell brunch.

Serving stations were set with assorted salads, yalanchi, lahmajoun, cheese boregs, meat boregs, and hummus. A carving station offered sliced-to-order roast beef, ham and turkey. Desserts included kourabia cookies, paklava, semolina cakes, fruit kabobs, and more. The beverage station served-up Mimosas (orange juice and champagne), plain orange juice, and coffee to help wash everything down.

Weeks before the brunch, I was at church working on another aspect of the preparation while a group of seasonal parishioners from Detroit were in the kitchen making the meat boregs. They made Dolly Matoian’s recipe which came from St. John Armenian Church (Detroit) cookbook. This is not a ‘home version’ recipe as it yields 375 to 400 boregs, and requires 20 workers over a 2-day period to complete.

Desert Table

Instead of using phyllo dough or puff pastry, the dough was more chorag-like. The meat filling had a nice ‘kick’ from the blend of black pepper and cayenne pepper in the filling. I got to sample a test boreg as it came out of the oven – it was soft, warm, and so delicious!

I have made an attempt to break down the large-group recipe for the home kitchen, but be warned – I have not tested this version. The new ingredient amounts represent 1/8th the original recipe measurements.

The smaller recipe should yield about 45 to 50 boregs, and I would suggest having one or two extra pairs of hands to assist. Oh yes, it’s important to prepare the meat mixture one day in advance.

Please don’t be discouraged by the lengthy recipe. One thing is for sure, I can certainly appreciate the time and effort the Detroit ladies put into this recipe, and I truly did savor every bite!

Here’s the (untested) home version recipe…

Detroit-Style Meat Boreg

Meat Boreg (Beoreg)

Yield: 45 to 50 pieces

Filling Ingredients:

1 lb. chopped onions

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 ¾ lbs. ground lamb

1 ¾ lb. ground sirloin (or chuck)

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. paprika

¾ lb. (3 sticks) butter

¾ c. dried parsley (or 1 cup fresh, chopped parsley)

Dough Ingredients:

¼ lb. (1 stick) butter

¼ cup vegetable shortening

1¼ c. milk

5 eggs

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. dry granular yeast

½ cup warm water

2 ¼ tsp. sugar

1 ½ tsp. salt

3 ¼ lb. all-purpose flour (approx. 12 cups)

Egg wash:

2 eggs, beaten


Regular or black sesame seeds


Day 1:

1. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Saute onions until soft, but not mushy. Strain onions in a colander, pressing firmly to remove any liquid. Set aside until ready to use.

2. In a large frying pan, cook lamb and beef over medium heat until brown. Break meat down with a fork to remove any large lumps. Strain out any excess fat.

3. Place cooked onions and meat in a large mixing bowl. Stir in all of the seasonings. Taste for flavor and spiciness. Make any adjustments, if necessary.

4. Melt the butter in a skillet and add to the meat-onion mixture. Finally, add the chopped parsley.

5. Place mixture in shallow containers; cover and refrigerate until day 2.

Day 2:

Directions for Dough Preparation:

1. Melt butter and shortening in a saucepan. Allow to cool. Add milk to butter mixture; set aside.

2. Using a hand or stand mixer and a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until well-blended.

3. Begin adding flour, a little at a time, to the egg mixture for a uniform mixture.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the ½ c. warm water, yeast and sugar, whisking to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof.

5, Add proofed yeast to the flour mixture and knead dough well.

6. Using a food scale, portion the dough into 1 ½ to 2 oz. portions; place on trays, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and allow to rest.

7. Portion the meat into 1/12 to 2 oz. portions.

8. On a work surface (no flour should be needed), roll each dough portion into 4-inch circles, and place on platters.

Forming and baking the boregs:

9. Hold each round of dough in one hand; top with meat mixture. Pinch or fold the dough over the meat to completely seal the filling.

10. Place – seam side down – on parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly press down to make a bun shape instead of a ball shape. Continue the process until the trays are filled. Allow boregs to rest about 15 minutes before baking.

11. Bake in preheated 375°F oven (350°F for convection oven) until golden.

12. Place baked boregs on cooling racks; cool completely. If not serving immediately, place borges in freezer bags in single layers, and freeze until ready to use.

13. Prior to serving, defrost boregs in the refrigerator, and bake in preheated 325°F oven until warmed through.

Robyn Kalajian is a retired culinary teacher and Chief Cook at Douglas Kalajian is a retired editor/journalist and Sous Chef at

South Florida Armenian American Community Commemorates 98th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide


HOLLYWOOD, FL —On Wednesday April 24, several hundred members of the South Florida Armenian American Community gathered at St Mary Armenian Church to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, reported Florida Armenians (FLArmenians).

The evening began with a hokehankist (memorial service), which was offered for the victims of the Armenian Genocide by the V. Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian of St. David Armenian Church and Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan of St. Mary Armenian Church.


After the service, a cross-cultural, multimedia program began delving into the history surrounding the Armenian genocide, as well as the emotions that are shared not only by the survivors and descendants of survivors, but also the survivors of many of the numerous other genocides of the 20th century.

(PHOTOS: 98th Anniversary Armenian Genocide Commemoration in South Florida)

Armenians worldwide commemorate the genocide on April 24 of each year, the day when, in 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Soon after, the Ottoman military ripped Armenians from their homes and began a systematic extermination of Armenians which was implemented in two phases: the killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert. The total number of Christian Armenians who perished as a result between 1915 and 1923 has been estimated at around 1.5 million.  The Turkish government has yet to formally acknowledge that the genocide even occurred.

(Also on FLArmenians: The 113th Congress, a Look at the 2014 Mid-Term Elections & the Countdown to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide)

Mr. Raffy Yaghdjian, member of the St Mary Armenian Church parish council, served as master of ceremonies.  In Yaghdjian’s opening words he stated, “We are gathered here today to remind ourselves that the struggle is not over.  The world did not learn.  There were many more genocides following ours. The Assyrians, the Greeks, the Jews, the Cambodians, Rwandans, and those in Darfur.  So we continue with the struggle.  We must continue to educate.  We must continue to publicize.  We must continue to publish books and write papers.  We must continue to make the effort.  We must continue to be creative in how we do it. After all, and I quote, ‘all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’”

(Also on FLArmenians: Armenian Billboards Put Touchy Topic on the Road)


As the program continued, Mr. Harry Pilafian, a survivor of the genocide who was in attendance, was recognized with standing applause. Lilit Mnatsakanyan and Tanya Lusararian read papers they had composed regarding their perspectives on the genocide, and Roubina Majarian of St David Armenian Church presented Armenian poetry.  Guest speaker Professor Hannibal Travis of the Florida International University (FIU) College of Law addressed the audience about his ongoing study of the Armenian Genocide, particularly how it has been addressed by the United States.  Professor Travis is the author of the first comprehensive history of physical and cultural genocide in the Middle East and North Africa, entitled Genocide in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire, Iraq, and Sudan. A short screening from the documentary “Orphans of the Genocide” was also presented by south Florida film producer Bared Maronian.  A musical interlude followed, with Alique Mazmanian performing “Karouna” by Komitas on piano, Mrs. Audrey Pilafian performing “Manoushak” and “Yeraz” on cello, Joseph Yenikomshian playing “Lord have mercy” on clarinet, and Sage McBride performing “Krounk” by Komitas, on violin.


(Also on FLArmenians: Florida State Senate Recognizes April 24 as Armenian Martyrs Remembrance Day)

Before the conclusion of the program, Mr. Yaghdjian unexpectedly once more approached the podium to excitedly say, “I was just given a note that the Florida State Senate just passed a resolution recognizing April 24 as Armenian Martyrs Remembrance Day for the first time in Florida history,” to a round of thunderous applause.

Fr. Joulfayan offered in closing, “Many thanks to you, dear South Floridians, families, youth, and children.  But, in a way, I should not be thanking you.  We do not thank each other on this day. Today, we simply come to remember and never forget.”

The South Florida Armenian Genocide Commemoration was held under the auspices of St. David Armenian Church of Boca Raton, St. Mary Armenian Church of Hollywood and Florida Armenians, together with the Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian National Committee, and the Knights of Vartan.


PR# 2013-04

Photo Caption 1: St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church of Hollywood, Florida.

Photo Caption 2: Florida Armenians joined by human rights and anti-genocide activists to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and all genocides of the 20th Century.

Photo Caption 3: FIU Professor Hannibal Travis presents his studies on the Armenian Genocide.

Photo Caption 4: Armenian Genocide survivor Harry Pilafian recognized by South Florida Armenian American community.

Photos courtesy of Michele Kevorkian McBride for

Armenian Church of America’s Annual Diocesan Assembly to Convene in Boca Raton May 2-5

Mr. & Mrs. Edward & Janet Mardigian to be honored at May 3 banquet as Diocesan “Members of the Year”

Boca Raton, FL – The Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) is pleased to announce the details of the 111th Diocesan Assembly, scheduled to convene May 2 through 5, 2013, in Boca Raton, Florida.

25aniversarySt. David Armenian Church will host the Diocesan gathering, which will bring together several hundred Armenian Church leaders from throughout the Eastern Diocese—including clergy, parish delegates and parish council chairs, the Diocesan Council, leaders of Diocesan organizations, and members of the Diocesan staff.

His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, will preside over all the gatherings and events.

A highlight of the week of activities will be the annual Diocesan Assembly awards banquet, on the evening of Friday, May 3.  At that time, Mr. and Mrs. Edward and Janet Mardigian will be honored as the Diocese’s 2013 “Armenian Church Members of the Year.”  Natives of the St. John Armenian Church of Southfield, Michigan, Edward and Janet Mardigian have been heroic benefactors of the Diocese and the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), and are continuing the grand legacy of leadership, participation, and support established by Edward’s late parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward and Helen Mardigian.

The “Friend of the Armenians” award will be presented to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who visited Armenia in the wake of the 1988 earthquake.

Prior to the Assembly itself, clergy from across the Diocese will meet for their annual Clergy Conference and retreat, from Monday, April 29 through Wednesday, May 1.

The Diocesan Women’s Guild General Assembly also convenes during the week.  This year, leaders of parish Women’s Guilds will begin their annual meeting on Thursday, May 2, at 10:00 a.m. under the presidency of the Primate, with all Diocesan clergy participating. The Women’s Guild Central Council’s fourth annual Woman of Wonder (WOW) Appreciation Luncheon will be held on Saturday, May 4. This year’s honorees are Carol Norigian, Nina Stapan, Claudette Sarian, Rose Kazanjian, and Naomi Davitian.

The Diocesan Assembly will convene on Thursday, May 2 at 4:00 p.m., with sessions continuing to the afternoon of Saturday, May 4.  In addition to the regular business sessions and reports from the Diocesan Council, FAR, and various Diocesan organizations, one entire morning session will be devoted to a presentation of the new Diocesan theme for the coming year: “Living the Gospel of Christ.”

On Sunday, May 5, the Primate will preside over a special Divine Liturgy at St. David Church for the Assembly attendees.

The host parish, under the leadership of the Very Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian, has arranged for accommodations at the Marriott Boca Raton Hotel (5150 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton, FL 33431), where the sessions will also take place. To register, please click to print out the forms below and follow the instructions for submission.





SDAC Hayr Sourp Farewell Celebration_05.04.13