Basil, a member of the mint family, was known as the “king of herbs” by ancient Greeks.
Cultivated for over 5,000 years, basil (rahan) has a long tradition in Armenian cooking and in the Armenian Church.
St. Helena (Soorp Heghine to Armenians) is believed to have discovered the True Cross in Jerusalem under a pile of debris covered with a flourishing crop of basil. During the Exaltation of the Holy Cross each September, the processional cross is adorned with blessed basil leaves. This is one of the five major feasts of the Church, and the most important of the four feasts of the Holy Cross.
My mother recalls that, in her youth, anyone who had a basil plant growing in their summer garden would pick a bunch for each guest who visited, and throughout the evening they would sniff the basil’s sweet aroma.
Not only do I love the taste of basil, I love the scent even more. I often said, if they made basil perfume, I’d wear it. My husband took this to heart and bought me the closest thing he could find — basil-scented hand soap and lotion at Williams-Sonoma — and presented it to me for Christmas!
Here’s a vegetable recipe with a lot of wonderful flavors.
2 medium-sized eggplants, diced
2 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup flat Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup basil, chopped (divided)
¼ cup olive oil
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 small can stewed tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Pour and spread 4 oz. of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 13”x9” baking pan.
3. To the pan add the eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic, parsley, and HALF of the basil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Toss together.
4. Add the oil , stewed tomatoes, and the rest of the tomato sauce to the vegetables. Toss again, coating all of the vegetables.
5. Cover the pan with foil, and bake in the preheated oven for one hour.
6. Uncover, and bake 30 minutes more.
7. This can be served hot or at room temperature.
8. Before serving, add the remaining chopped fresh basil.
Note: This recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance. Do not add the final ½ cup of fresh basil until you are ready to serve.
Am bringing you fresh basil from my garden to your Easter dinner!
My Armenian step-dad passed away several years ago and I no longer have rahan seeds available since then.
I have been searching for a few years for rahan seeds and/or plants to purchase. The only ones I find are on eBay and Amazon…and I'm sure they aren't the right variety.
Can someone please steer me in the right direction? I'd love to start making a few of the easier dishes asn I miss the food horribly.
Thank you, in advance, for any help you might be able to offer.
Lori Ann all you can go to a Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart or any place that has a nursery and they sell seeds for flowers, vegetables and herbs. Now if that is not convenient, if you can get fresh rahan from a market, look closely and you will see the little flowers with little leaves at the top, just snip it and place it in soil in care for it. You will be surprised that you have your rahan growing. Believe me, that works. . . Sandy