Spinach Bulghour with Basterma

Diane Aginian of MI and FL, has asked for our help in finding a family recipe from long ago. This dish was made (and quite possibly created) by her mother who was originally from Yosgat, but came to the U.S.A. at an early age. Diane describes the dish as stew-like that contains bulgur, spinach, bits of soujuk and chemen or chaiman (saved from basterma) for flavoring. She believes this dish was made on the stovetop rather than the oven, and was good for bread-dunking. Other than that she couldn’t recall anything else about the recipe, not even if this dish has a name.

This was a TALL order, but I couldn’t resist the challenge.

I flipped through all of my Armenian cookbooks looking for any recipe that contained the main ingredients: bulgur, spinach, soujuk and basterma chaiman.

Lo and behold, I found a recipe called “Spinach Bulghour with Basterma” in my cookbook, “Paree Josh – Good Eating: Armenian-American Recipes” submitted by Lita Nersesian.

It contained most of the key ingredients Diane mentioned – with the exception of soujuk. But, Diane is the only one who can say whether or not this recipe hits home.

Diane, It’s up to you… you must try Lita’s recipe and let us know if it reminds you of your mother’s creation.

Spinach Bulghour with Basterma
Serves 6 to 8

3 onions
¼ lb. butter (1 stick)
6 to 12 slices basterma
½ (10 oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes
2 lbs. washed, stemmed spinach

¼ cup coarse bulghour (#3)
Salt and pepper


1. Saute onions in butter in a large pot. Add basterma and slightly braise.
2. Add tomatoes and simmer 2 minutes. Add spinach, then sprinkle with the bulghour, and salt and pepper to taste. Steam 4 minutes.
3. Stir down spinach and simmer gently 15 to 30 minutes. Vegetables should be juicy.
4. Add water at the end if necessary.

All quantities of ingredients are optional according to your taste. The flavor of this dish is enhanced the next day.

Robyn’s Suggestions: Since it wasn’t mentioned in the original recipe, I would recommend:
chopping or slicing the onions
cutting the basterma into small pieces
chopping the tomatoes or using canned diced tomatoes

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  1. Anonymous January 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Boy, Basterma and Soujuk in one recipe?! With all that garlic, better not plan on kissing anyone for a few days after that! 😉 I've never heard of this and am not a big fan of bulgar on its own like pilaf, but my curiosity is piqued now. I know a lot of people eat Eggs and Sujouk, but I think I've only ever had either of them with cheese and crackers so far. I'll need to do some experimenting apparently. I'll be curious to see the results posted for this if Diane tries it.

  2. Robyn January 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I'm anxiously awaiting Diane's evaluation, too!

  3. Marash Girl January 25, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Ahhh — Boulghour! My absolute favorite form of wheat!

  4. mcragwe November 24, 2011 at 4:52 am

    Interesting topic. today I came upon a person that was air drying, as it turned out, beef, in a suburb of Chicago, btw. Upon my inquiry he told me what they were….calling then soojookh. here's were I'm confused. is soojookh a sausage or is it thinly slice highly seasoned beef? He was Armenian.

  5. Robyn November 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Soujouk (spelling varies) is a highly spiced sausage. Basterma is a solid chunk of meat (usually the London Broil cut in the US) that's coated with a spicy fenugreek (chaimen) paste and air-dried. Thinly sliced and served with pita bread, it makes for a very tasty appetizer!


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