“In the Armenian Church, Lent is a time of joyfulness and purification through repentance. The Western Church’s less-strict Lenten practice excludes meat from the diet. The stricter Lenten diet of the Eastern Church excludes meat, fish, poultry, dairy, dairy products or eggs,” says Robyn Kalajian, the co-creator of TheArmenianKitchen.com website and influential food blog. She offers these two traditional recipes:
Topik/թոփիկ (or topig) is a delicious vegan mezze or appetizer. It’s considered a specialty of Armenians from Istanbul (or bolsahyes). It’s often served at Michink (the middle of Lent). “Earlier, I wrote about topik (“stuffed ball”), says Robyn, “and linked my story to Lebanese blogger Joumana Accad’s website (http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/2009/12/chick-pea-appetizer-topig/ TasteofBeirut.com) since she’d already gone to the trouble of preparing the recipe and posting it so beautifully. I haven’t tried Joumana’s authentic version of topik, but I gave it some serious thought with the return of Lent this year.”
Joumana adds, “Topik contains no dairy nor meat, is composed of chickpeas, onions, tahini and spices, and is livened up by currants and nuts. Preparation can take 36 hours, so it requires some planning. Perfect for a party or a celebration, it’s a contrast of flavors, the lemon against the chickpea paste, the olive oil to spice up the ensemble; the stuffing is sweet with onions and currants. It’s worth the effort and time,” she adds.
Robyn says, “My counterpart in Yerevan, Sonia Tashjian, e-mailed me her simpler, less time-consuming version that I modified below. Sonia, an Armenian food expert and enthusiast, is an endless source of easy-to-prepare recipes from many Armenian regions. Her topik method sounded more my speed, in that the ingredients are mixed together without the tedious shaping and stuffing. It’s still some work, but not as daunting for the time-constrained cook. My husband Doug says this version reminded him of a combination of hummus and midia dolma – minus the mussels; I loved the sweetness of the currants and tartness of the lemon juice, but feel a pinch of cinnamon would have enhanced the flavor a little more,” adds Robyn. (See her Midia Dolma: Armenian Stuffed Mussels at: https://thearmeniankitchen.com/nobody-can-out-mussel-armenians/amp/).