Monday, January 17, 2011

Armenia

Sorry to those of you who are subscribing to this and got e-mails about a bunch of posts you have already read.  I moved over all of the old ones, so hopefully that should be the only time that happens.

Armenia

Armenia prides itself on being the first formally Christian nation.
Location: East of Turkey
Bordering Countries: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia
Total Area: 29,000 sq miles, slightly smaller than Maryland
Population: Almost 3 million
Net migration rate: -4.16/1000 population
Military: Has occupied 16% of Azerbaijan since the early '90's.
             6.5% of their GDP is spent on the military, which is 8th in the world.
Cuisine: Often relies on freshness rather than spices for flavor.

After the holidays, Sarah-Anne came back to DC with us to spend a few days.  On the day she was scheduled to leave, Ryan, one of my roommates from Madison, was coming up from North Carolina to visit.  Also, my friend Amanda from Madison was going to be in town.  Clearly, scheduling this dinner was going to be interesting.  Things with Sarah-Anne got too busy, so it didn't happen then.  Luckily, the food was part of the reason I was able to get the others over, though, so that was easy.

Armenia wasn't the hardest country to get a recipe for, but it also was no Argentina.  After some fairly extensive internet searching, I found this recipe.  It is often considered the national dish of Armenia.

While looking for this, I also came across a bread recipe that seemed authentic and not too hard.

But there was an ingredient I wasn't really sure how to get: whole wheat kernels.  After searches at a few local grocery stores, I did something I knew would happen eventually: I looked for an international grocery store.  So after a few months, and with Ryan in tow, I went on my first true multi-country experience.

Why did I not do this earlier?

I even found palm oil, which would have let me make a more authentic recipe for Angola.  Maybe even go back to that recipe at some point.  That store made me super-happy.

On to cooking!

The most noteworthy part of this recipe is how long it takes.  I started long before Amanda was supposed to get there.

For the chicken, I just used whatever I already had in my freezer, and it worked out pretty well.
Nice kitchen scale from my parents I got for Christmas.  :-)
Big pots are good things.
Really, it was very simple, first you boil, then you take out the floaties.
After all of the boiling.
This collander has legs, so you can stand it up on a bowl.  This was good for catching the rest of the water.
Yum...floaties.
I have a food processer, but I decided that I wanted the shredded chicken to be authentic.  As the comments on the blog where I got the recipe...make it taste better with elbow grease.  It honestly wasn't too hard...just the chicken was very hot.
Can't you see the hard work in there?
After that, there's not really much for a while.  Add wheat, boil for four hours.
In case you were wondering, here are the whole wheat kernels.

And then you...wait?  In this case we played some Pandemic, a board game I like a lot.  We also had snacks.
Upper left = Ryan's idea.
Fast forward a few hours.  The board has beaten us in Pandemic a few times, and we have moved onto social Trivial Pursuit.  It is time to start the bread.
I've started to use unbleached flour, which may explain why it isn't as blindingly white as expected.

Brought back some pizza memories...
This was much easier than the empanada dough.  I still recruited some help, however.

Part two in the "Manly Men Roll Dough" series.
Fold and roll.  Fold and roll.
With the bread in the oven, it was time for the last steps of the main dish.  For all of the work they mentioned this part being, I didn't think it was bad at all.
I like that the cinnamon roll made it into another picture.
Stirred and blended.
And time for the bread!  Timing was very essential when making these two dishes.  Also, preventing the cat from running across the kitchen island.
The missing corner?  There would have been cat-prints...
The egg wash made it shiny.
Time to do the final table setting, this time for four.
Still Christmas at this point.
We had some cheese left from our cheese board.
Kevin making quite the face.
Yes, our stockings are held on with blue painters tape...
Now the important part.  How was it?

I really liked it.  Without any spices added, it was a blank canvas.  Not bad, but not too much going on.  But you add paprika and garlic and cumin and butter...and you can pretty much make whatever you want.  I think you could try it with a bunch of different things.

I felt the same about the bread.  I really liked it a lot, and I feel like adding some garlic after the egg wash could make something great.  I only made two of the sheets, and I have the rest in the freezer.  Hopefully they keep, and I get a chance to try them out soon.

This also worked as leftovers.  It was quite fun to bring bottles of spices to work; both Kevin and I did it.  And we ate all of the leftovers.

I would encourage anyone feeling adventerous to go for it.  You can try your own combination of spices and see how it turns out.  And it really isn't hard to make.  You just need the time.

Now the question I have: what do I do with the rest of the whole wheat kernels I have?

I leave you with a picture from later in the week, since there weren't any Tesla pictures from that day.  This is from when we took down the Christmas tree so he wouldn't break any more ornaments.

Tesla says no!  The rest of these branches stay, or I go too!
Feel free to leave comments and subscribe!

Last time: Argentina
Next time: Australia

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