If you’ll recall, my maternal grandparents came from Musa Dagh (Musa Ler, in Armenian). You can imagine my excitement when I received the following email and Mousa Lerian recipe from Mary Samanlian.
It’s a meatless kufteh, so it’s great for Lent, and vegetarians will appreciate this dish, too.
I would like to send you this food recipe , the food is called “Zitounou Trakhig”, it’s a Mousa Lerian dish. Trakhig means small keofteh.
Here is the recipe:
Keofteh Ingredients: 2 cups tsavar (small size bulgur #1 – cracked wheat), 1 cup flour, 1 Tblsp tomato paste, 1 Tblsp pepper paste, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt. If pepper paste is not available use paprika or dry hot pepper.
Sauce Ingredients: 7-8 medium size onions, 3-4 garlic cloves, 1 kilogram well matured tomatoes, 1 Tblsp pepper paste, 1/2 cup corn oil or olive oil (which is much healthier), cumin, salt.
Preparation of the dough:
First wash the tsavar (it’s important to wash it before using, it makes easier to work),get rid of the extra water then add the flour, tomato paste, pepper paste, cumin, salt, mix them using your hands to make a dough. Then take small pieces of this dough (as large as a small apricot) and give it the shape of a ball then press on it with two fingers to flatten, leaving a thin line which remains higher in the middle. After finishing, cook them in boiling water two to three minutes like spaghetti, take them out of the water and put them aside.
Preparation of the sauce:
Chop the onions “julien”, smash the garlic, divide each tomato into two and rind them then throw away the peel, you may put the tomatoes in the blender and blend them, but I prefer to use the rinder for better results. Put the oil in a cooking pot, add the onions, when they turn into yellow add the garlic then the tomato juice, salt and cumin, let it boil for five minutes then add the trakhigs (keoftehs) mix, let it boil for 5-10 minutes then put out the fire. It’s ready to eat. Happy appetite.
1. 1 kilogram tomatoes equals 2.2 lbs.
2. “Julienne” means to cut into thin strips.
3. If the dough mixture will not come-together, add a little bit of water.
4. I added a sprinkle of Aleppo red pepper to the sauce to give it an extra “kick”.
5. I wanted to be sure I understood the sauce directions in reference to the tomatoes, so I asked Mary for clarification which follows:
Peel the tomatoes** to remove the skins. Cut each tomato in half, squeeze them to remove the seeds, then put the tomatoes in the blender to puree them – or grate them by hand. Mary prefers the hand-grating method.
**Special Tip: How to Peel Whole Tomatoes:
1. In a 6 quart pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water set aside.
2. Using a small paring knife, cut an “X” through the skin at the blossom end (NOT stem end) of the tomato.3. Working in small batches, drop a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds – no more!
4. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place them into the bowl of ice water to cool.
5. Once cooled, remove tomatoes and allow to drain.
6. Gently pull away the skin, starting where you cut the “X”, using a paring knife or your fingers.
NOTE: If peeling tomatoes sounds too time-consuming, whole or diced canned tomatoes can be used instead. Just puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor to create the base of the sauce.