BEIRUT: In the Armenian language, “Bahk” translates to “Lent”, and the mouth-watering, nutritious, and vegan “Bahki Keofte” recipe is an essential dish within the household of any Armenian partaking in the Great Lent.
On top of the great nutritional value this dish carries, its preparation is simple, and its end result is one full of diverse flavors coming in together perfectly.
As my grandmother, Josephine Chouboukian once confidently asserted, “Whoever claims that Lenten food sacrifices are challenging has definitely not tasted Bahki Keofte!’”
So enough with the teasing, here’s the deal:
600 grams chickpeas/ garbanzo beans
4 cups flour
5-6 cups bulgur (cut and parboiled groats)
500 grams tahini
1000 grams finely diced onion
300 grams chopped walnuts
Salt, ground red and black pepper, to taste
¼ cup of vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups finely diced onion
Salt as needed
12 cloves minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoon red pepper paste
3-6 tablespoons water
NOTE: Soak chickpeas in water for 24-48 hours beforehand, then strain them and remove the skins off the chickpeas and put in a blender or food processor.
For the filling: Add the chopped onions, walnuts, tahini, and seasonings all together in a bowl.
For the “Keofte” shell dough: In a separate bowl, add the bulgur, chickpeas, and flour and knead into a dough with water and salt.
Using your hands, divide the dough into smaller tennis-sized balls, spoon some filling inside, then seal the ends together.
Slowly place the now-ready balls into a pot of salted and oiled boiling water, one by one. Allow them to cook until they become soft, but not disassembled. Leave on the low-heat boil for 20-30 minutes, then drain the pot from water, and wait till the outer shells of the “Keofte” balls become firm.
For the red sauce: sauté onion/s in an oiled saucepan until translucent, slowly adding in the garlic and red pepper paste, and salt. Adding water, sauté for a few minutes until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Toss in the cooked “Keofte” balls until they are all individually coated with the sauce.
Serve at room temperature or chilled.
As they say in Armenian, Բարի ախորժակ! (Paree akhorjag, meaning bon appetit!)
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