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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Soviet Armenian Dishes, 1971 -- Vintage Cookbook TBT

w. Shashlyk (Lamb Skewers), Sputnik Croquettes, Beef Filet & Bozbash Echmiadzinsky (Lamb Soup)

An Armenian hors d'oeuvres platter

This feature looking at Armenian recipes was published in Soviet Life magazine in 1971.

With four classic recipes (each with a photo) you can enjoy a trip to a style of cuisine sadly little known or enjoyed in North America.


The Armenians are one of the oldest peoples in the Soviet Union. For some 2600 years now they have favored much the same dishes. Characteristic of Armenian and Caucasian food generally is its piquant spiciness. The climate and great diversity of mountain flora provide the Armenian kitchen with pepper, garlic, caraway seeds and all kinds of tangy greens that are used generously in cooking. Spring onions, leeks, lettuce, basil, tarragon, parsley and dill are favorites as hors d'oeuvres and are usually served with whole tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers. Beef and mutton are the staples of Armenian menus. Lamb has been substituted for mutton in the recipes that follow.

SHASHLYK, lamb roasted on skewers dates back to hoary antiquity --the Stone Age. There are several ways to prepare it, and different southern nations have their own variations, but roasting on skewers is universal.

Remove the tendons from 2 1/2 pounds of leg of lamb and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Cut 1/2 pound of the fat removed from the leg into small pieces. Place the meat and fat in a clay or porcelain pot and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Mix together 1/2 pound of grated onion, 1/2 cup of vinegar or lemon juice, an ounce of cognac, cloves to taste and spicy greens. Pour over meat and set in a cool spot for six or seven hours to marinate.

String pieces of lamb and fat alternately on skewers and roast over hot coals (without flames), turning the skewers so the meat browns evenly on all sides. Serve with sliced onion, dill, fresh coriander and parsley.

SPUTNIK CROQUETTES are a variation of an old Armenian dish. Grind 1 1/2 pounds of lamb twice. Mix meat with 1/2 cup boiled rice, finely chopped fresh coriander, salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of ground cinnamon, finely chopped fried onion and an egg. Shape the meat into balls and roll so that the ends taper. Coat with flour and fry in 1/4 pound of butter. Serve with fried potatoes.

BEEF FILET cooked Armenian style has its own spicy flavor. Strip the tendons from 2 1/2 pounds of beef tenderloin and cut into pieces an inch thick. Beat with the blunt end of a chopper, sprinkle with salt, pepper and cloves to taste, and fry both sides in 1/4 pound of butter. Fry slices of eggplant and tomato (1 pound each) in a separate pan. Sprinkle beef with parsley.

BOZBASH ECHMIADZINSKY is one of several tasty lamb soups. Place 1 1/2 pounds of lean lamb cut into bite-size pieces in a pot of cold water. Cover and simmer on low heat, skimming periodically until the meat is half-cooked. Remove the lamb and fry it in butter. Strain the stock, reheat it and pour over the fried pieces of lamb. Add 1/4 pound finely chopped fried onion, 1 pound cubed boiled potatoes, 1/2 pound eggplant, 1/2 cup sliced bean pods (without the beans), 1/4 pound green pepper, and continue cooking until the lamb is tender. Fifteen minutes before serving, salt the soup to taste and add 1 pound of sliced tomatoes and spicy greens.


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