Carolann Najarian is a woman of many talents – she is a
retired physician, author, philanthropist, and now, a choreg baker.
Carolann Najarian’s whole wheat choreg
Over the years, Carolann and I have communicated about this-and-that via The ArmenianKitchen. Recently she wrote saying she wanted to try her hand at baking choreg.
She said her mother used to make a choreg which was not too sweet, somewhat
dry, a bit dense, and was formed into diamond shapes. She no longer had her
mother’s recipe – a family favorite – and turned to my website hoping to find a
Her mother’s recipe sounded much like a recipe request I
received ages ago for a Kharpetsi-style chorag recipe calledKoolunja, a word
she wasn’t familiar with. After reaching out to my readers about Koolunja, I
never had any responses. My research provided a clue about koolunja (aka
kalonji) and discovered it means ‘black seeds’.
Since black seeds are often an ingredient in chorag recipes, I came to the conclusion that “koolunja” simply refers to these seeds and is not really a recipe name.
For Carolann’s future use, I sent her a recipe for ‘Koolenja’ by Agnes Carman Hovsepian, from
the cookbook, ‘Armenian Cuisine – Preserving Our Heritage’, St. John’s Armenian
Church, Southfield, Michigan.
(Carolann plans to try the Koolunja recipe and let me know how it turns out. This will be a separate post.)
NOTE: Charles Kasbarian (aka C.K. Garabed and Uncle Garabed, columnist in The Armenian Weekly),provided me with additional information about Koolunja:
According to C.K., “the black seeds that are referred to as koolunja and black caraway seeds are also referred to as sevakundig (sev hundig) and nigella.”
Koolunja explained, Carolann then asked if I’d ever made choreg using whole wheat flour, and asked me for any tips.
Since I hadn’t made choreg with whole wheat flour, I asked for her assistance, meaning that after she experimented with the recipe, would she please share her results. She agreed.
This is what transpired:
My ‘tip’ to Carolann about substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour came from Better Homes and Gardens:
“You can replace part but not all of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour when baking. Blending whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour will lighten the finished product while maintaining the nutritional benefits of whole wheat. When baking, use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. The end product might not look the same, and it could have a coarser texture and less volume.”
Carolann got down to work and sent me her whole wheat choreg report:
Rachel and Nonny Hogrogian’s cookbook
“I did make the half whole wheat/ half all-purpose flour
chorag and it is very good. I used the same recipe (almost) that I used last
time simply because I had made twice before and felt comfortable with it. It is
from Rachel and Nonny Hogrogian’s cookbook, ‘The Armenian Cookbook’.” Her
recipe, an adaptation of Rachel Hogrogian’s Choreg recipe, follows.
Carolann’s whole wheat choreg – hot out of the oven!
Carolann Najarian’s Whole Wheat Choreg Recipe
Yield: 25 pieces
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
1/2 tsp. each: finely ground mahlab** and ground anise seed
1 tsp. black caraway seeds
1 pkg. dry yeast dissolved in ¼ cup lukewarm water (105-110°)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup warm milk (NOTE: fat-free, low fat, or regular milk can be used)
1 ½ cups lukewarm melted butter
Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten
Garnish: sesame seeds
**Important Messages Regarding Mahlab:
C.K.’s daughter Lucine, author, writer, illustrator, sent me two vital links regarding Mahlab:
#2. If you- or anyone you know – is/are allergic to almonds, you’ll definitely want to avoid mahlab. Please click here to find out why!
In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours, salt, sugar, ground mahlab, ground anise, and black seeds. Blend well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast, 3 eggs, melted butter and warm milk. Blend mixture by hand until a dough is formed.
Knead the dough in the mixing bowl. When the dough stops sticking to the bowl, stop kneading immediately. Do not coat the bowl or dough with oil. Cover the bowl with parchment paper and a clean towel; place it into a warm oven heated to 150°F. Turn off the oven; allow dough to rise until doubled in size – about 2 hours.
Punch dough and place it on the work surface. Flatten dough with your hands patting it down to about 3/4 inch thickness. Cut into squares, triangles, or diamond shapes. Alternately, take a handful of dough, roll it into a rope about 1 ¼” thick. Cut rope into 9” pieces; fold each piece in half and twist it once.
Place pieces on a parchment paper-lined tray. Brush each piece with egg wash. Sprinkle tops with sesame seeds.
Bake in a preheated 375° F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Many thanks, Carolann, for your enthusiastic participation in this project!