The following recipe for Bitlis Tutoo (Sour Cabbage Stew) from ‘Breaking Bread with William Saroyan’ was posted in The Armenian Mirror-Spectator by Christine Vartanian Datian.
A bit of background information: Tutoo is an old recipe from the Bitlis and Mush (Mus) regions in Turkey. It is thought by historians to have been brought by the French Crusaders, who later married Armenian women and stayed in the Bitlis region. Tutoo means sour in Armenian, and the stew can live up to its name. It includes both fermented cabbage and the brine used to pickle the cabbage. Most Armenian cookbooks and on-line recipes call for at least a 10-day fermentation period.
The updated recipe below is courtesy of Queenie Dardarian, ‘A Hundred Years and Still Cooking’, the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno (FAPC) Fidelis Women’s Society Centennial recipe collection.
Bitlis Tutoo (Sour Cabbage Stew) from ‘Breaking Bread with William Saroyan’
Tutoo means 'sour' in Armenian and the stew lives up to its name. This is an old recipe which includes both fermented cabbage and the brine used to pickle the cabbage.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 10days30minutes
Cook Time 4hours
Total Time 10days4hours30minutes
1lb.lamb necks or stew meat a little more meat never hurts!
1-2largeonions halved and sliced
8cupsfermented cabbage with its own juice (See below for instructions)
¾cupdzedzads (shelled whole grain wheat – or gorghod) sold in Middle Eastern stores
18-oz. cantomato sauce
1-2largelemonsjuiced (or more for more tartness)
Crushed dried basil and paprika or cayenne pepper, measured to tasteoptional
Preparation to ferment cabbage
3largecabbage heads chopped in 1-inch squares
Pickling salt not iodized
¼cupdzedzads (shelled whole grain wheat – or gorghod)
For the fermenting
Have ready a large crock or 1-gallon glass jar for fermenting cabbage.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, adding salt to taste. Let it cool to tepid temperature.
Rinse and add 1/4 cup dzedzads to the bottom of the crock or glass jar. Add cut cabbage to the container, and cover with water to cover top. Stir and cover container partially, leaving an opening for stirring. Loosely cap the jar. Retain 1 cup of brine to add to the jar during fermentation to keep the cabbage covered with liquid.
Place jar on a plate (in case your fermentation bubbles over) and store out of direct sunlight in your kitchen.
Stir thoroughly to help release gases caused by fermentation for once or twice a day for 10 to 21 days (or longer).
After cabbage has fermented, refrigerate tutoo by transferring it to large glass jars or other covered containers.
Preparation for the stew
In a large kettle or a heavy enameled 7-quart pot, cover lamb meat with some cabbage water and cook for one hour. Skim off any impurities. After one hour, remove the bones.
Rinse and add the 3/4 cup dzedzads to the pot. Add onions, cabbage, tomato sauce, water, lemon juice, basil, paprika or cayenne pepper (if using), and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about two hours or until lamb is very tender.