Borani, Anyone?

Whenever someone asks me to help find a lost family recipe, I can usually count on Ara Kassabian to post a recipe or an interesting comment which helps in the search.

This time HE wanted a recipe…
Ara wrote:
“My turn to request a recipe. My uncle’s sister (my aunt-in-law?) was from Urfa and made a dish typical of that region. The dish is called “borani” and is basically a meatball/chick pea/green chard soup or stew. I found a recipe for this in the AGBU cookbook, “Tastes with History”. However, my recollection is that there were more ingredients in the borani that I remember than are listed in the cookbook. Can anybody help? I looked through all my other cookbooks (and I have a bunch) and cannot find a recipe. Thanks!”
I took this to task and started looking through my cookbooks. I found two recipes with a similar name, but neither of them came close to his description. Then I found a Borani recipe in Alice Bezjian’s cookbook, “The Complete Armenian Cookbook”. I thought this was just what he had ordered and sent it along. If any of you have another “Borani” recipe to submit, I’ll gladly post it.
ni (from Alice Bezjian’s cookbook)
1 cup #1 bulgur
1 cup water
1 lb. lean ground meat
1 Tbsp. onion, minced
Salt, red hot pepper to taste
Oil for frying
2 lbs. Swiss chard, chopped (washed, of course!)
1 lb. lamb shanks, boned
1 lb. canned chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 cups yogurt
2 cloves pressed garlic or garlic powder to taste
1. Soak bulgur in water for about 10 minutes. Add ground meat, onion, salt and red pepper. Moisten your hands with water and knead mixture about 10 minutes to make a soft mass. Divide mixture into marble-sized balls. Fry in hot oil.
2. Chop Swiss chard, boil 5 minutes in water; drain.
3. Place lamb shank into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Skim foam from the surface. Add salt, reduce heat, cover and cook for 1 hour or until meat is tender. Add Swiss chard, chick peas and meatballs. Cook for 5 minutes more.
4. Transfer Borani to a serving bowl. Serve with yogurt seasoned with garlic.
Ara replied:
“The borani recipe you gave me is essentially the same one published in the AGBU cookbook, with the substitution of swiss chard for spinach. It is in fact the one that I made.”
Ara tweaked the recipe a bit to suit his time schedule, and was basically pleased with the result. He served it with a side dish of shiitake mushrooms sauteed in garlic butter, parsley, and a little shot of cognac (French, not Armenian).
Ara’s special notes:
“Per my uncle, the “secret” of borani is in making the meatballs tiny, the size of chick peas, so it looks uniform. Of course, since they expand in the water, that means you have to form them to be SMALLER than chick peas.”
“My mother mentioned the other day that, in Aleppo, they would add “keme” (truffles) to the borani. Keme are “desert truffles“.


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  1. Ara February 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Hey Robyn, thanks for posting. My mom ended up making this last week. Not having any "kemeh", she used mushrooms instead.

  2. Robyn February 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Anytime, Ara. Oops,I just noticed part of the story wasn't there. All fixed now!

  3. Anonymous June 23, 2017 at 12:06 am

    That is EXACTLY how my 99-year-old taught me to make Borani !! ( Without the 'krme'.) She passed away 25 years ago,..but I still make it,…. on special occasions,…to this day. 🙂
    Jim K.

    1. Robyn Kalajian June 23, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      That's great to hear, Jim; thanks for sharing!

  4. Anonymous June 23, 2017 at 12:08 am

    In my last post, …somehow I left out"..99-year-old Grandmother from Urfa." !!

  5. Anonymous December 7, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Great recipe but yellow font? Really? It's harder than reading upside down.

    1. Robyn Kalajian December 7, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      I don't know how that happened; sorry! This is the best I could do to change it. Hope this helps.


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