Wild Nettle Imam Bayaldi
Launched in 2016, The 1000 Leaf Project (https://1000leaf.aua.am/) is a citizen-driven website that allows anyone in Armenia to register a wild plant, providing details on where they found it, how to harvest it and what recipes to try. It focuses on empowering people for an end result that promotes and protects the rich biodiversity found in Armenia.
Contributed by Serda Ozbenian, the Executive Director of the Earth Island Institute’s Armenian Environmental Network (AEN), www.armenia-environment.org, this recipe calls for using wild stinging nettle. Stinging nettle is on the list of Armenia’s more than 3,600 wild plant species—a list that includes hundreds of edible varieties ranging from wild asparagus, mint and oregano to tart sea buckthorn and sweet mallow, an herb that formed the original basis for marshmallows. Ozbenian, Armine Sargsyan, AEN’s former In-Country Director, and Lena Tachdjian, an environmental writer, collaborated with colleagues at the American University of Armenia‘s Acopian Center for the Environment (AUA), a group that promotes environmental conservation through research, to catalogue these edible species with help from the community. Ozbenian incorporates stinging nettle in her imam bayildi recipe. “Typically, you fill eggplant with onions and tomatoes, but I made this version with nettle,” she said. “Sharing this recipe is another way The 1000 Leaf Project hopes to encourage users to interact with Armenia’s varied environment,” she added.
This recipe calls for Armenia’s wild stinging nettle, but Ozbenian says substituting American wild nettle will work as well in a pinch.