Recipe Corner: Guest Recipe: Yeranouhe Nanny’s Sarma Gurgood


Recipe and photo courtesy of Robyn Kalajian at

Robyn Kalajian says this is one of her favorite summer recipes that her maternal grandmother used to make called Sarma Gurgood.

Robyn and her siblings grew up in New Jersey eating bulgur – lots of it. It was served as pilaf, an ingredient in soup or stews, as kufteh, bulgur and potato kufteh, and as a favorite summer side dish called Sarma Gurgood, and in numerous other recipes.

Some might refer to Sarma Gurgood as tabbouleh, except that tabbouleh contains a lot of parsley with a little bit of bulgur, and Sarma Gurgood’s base is mostly bulgur with a little bit of parsley by comparison.

Robyn adds, “My maternal grandmother, Yeranouhe Vartanesian, a master in the kitchen, prepared many recipes without using a recipe, of course. She was from Musa Dagh, Syria. In the early 1900’s, Yeranouhe Nanny was in her teens when she climbed down the mountain with the remaining villagers to be rescued by the French waiting in their ships in the Mediterranean Sea. If you’ve seen the film, “The Promise,” there is a very emotional scene at the end depicting this incredible rescue.”

During the summer months, Sarma Gurgood was the perfect meal for the family, Robyn adds. Her family would gather around the picnic table which sat under Nanny’s huge grape arbor. She would serve this dish with fresh, tender grape leaves, lettuce leaves and Armenian bread.

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Yield: 8 servings

(NOTE: This recipe is best when made ahead of time so the flavors have time to blend.)


2 cups (#2) bulgur

Tap water (see directions for amount)

Cumin, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Allspice, to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

Dash salt

3 scallions, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley, stems removed, thoroughly washed and roughly chopped

4 oz. tomato paste, diluted in a 2 to 3 tablespoons of water

1 to 2 tablespoons red pepper paste, optional

Juice of one large lemon

About 1/2 cup olive oil


Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl.

Measure 2 cups of water from the faucet. Pour the water over the bulgur and stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the bulgur to soak up the water, about 20 – 30 minutes, until it begins to soften. The grains should not become mushy. Strain any excess water. The bulgur grains should be tender, but with a slightly chewy texture. The grains will continue to soften as it absorbs moisture from the other ingredients.

Stir in all of the spices, onions, scallions, mint, parsley, diluted tomato paste, and lemon juice to the bulgur. Add the oil a little at a time. NOTE: If using red pepper paste in addition to tomato paste, dilute the pepper paste along with the tomato paste.

Sample and adjust the seasonings according to your taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

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