Recipe Corner: Arpie Vartanesian’s Celery Stew (Geragoor)


Aunt Arpie’s Celery Stew (Geragoor) with Kufteh Balls and Egg-Lemon Sauce

Retired culinary teacher Robyn Kalajian received this recipe from her beloved Arpie Vartanesian, who lived in Florida, and who passed away in 2014 at age 89.

One day, Aunt Arpie said she was craving Celery Stew with Kufteh Balls, which she had made many times through the years.

“The way in which my Aunt Arpie described this recipe was sheer poetry. Her description of this delicious celery stew was so heavenly, she made my mouth water. Since she was not cooking so much at the time, I promised to prepare her celery stew recipe, making enough to share with her. Aunt Arpie put away her rolling pin and pans a few years before she passed away, but she never lost interest in eating a good meal or just talking about it.”


Part 1: Kufteh Balls:

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl until well-mixed:

1 lb. lean ground lamb, beef or turkey

1/3 to 1/2 cup fine (#1) bulgur

1/4 cup finely chopped onion, optional

Salt, pepper, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, allspice, paprika to taste

Shape into balls the size of large marbles. Place on a plate. Cover and refrigerate until ready to add to the stew.

Yield: Makes about 24 kufteh balls.

Part 2: Stew and Sauce:

Ingredients for celery stew:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium bunch celery, thoroughly washed, and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced

4-5 cups broth (chicken, beef or vegetable), add more, if needed

Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for sauce:

2 egg yolks, beaten

Juice of 1 lemon

Part 3: Celery Stew:

In a large pot, heat olive oil, and sauté celery, onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add broth and the kufteh balls. Bring to a full boil, and then reduce heat to low. Partially cover pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender and kufteh balls are cooked through.

Part 4: Directions for the sauce:

In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolks and lemon juice.

Spoon a little of the hot broth into the egg-lemon mixture, stirring briskly to prevent the egg from coagulating. (This process is called tempering.)

Slowly stir the tempered egg-lemon mixture into the large pot of celery stew. Cook gently for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately with Armenian bread or a crusty Italian or French bread.

Recipe Variation:

The celery stew can also be made with lamb neck bones with meat instead of the kufteh balls. This procedure should be done a day in advance.

The procedure follows.

Recipe Variation Procedure:

If using lamb neck bones, cook them in a pot with enough water to cover the bones. Bring to a boil, skimming-off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, for about 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. Remove neck bones from the broth. Allow to cool enough to handle so that the meat can be removed from the bones. Discard bones. Cover and store meat in the refrigerator until ready to add to celery stew.

Photos and recipe contributed by Robyn Kalajian:

Serves 6-8.


Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: