Lenten Recipes From


“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 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 ( 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:


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16 oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, skins removed

2 small red potatoes (boiled, peeled, and cut in half)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil, to taste

1/4 cup tahini

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried mint

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped

1/4 cup currants

Dash of cinnamon, optional


In a skillet, sauté the onions in hot oil until softened. Set aside. Process the chickpeas and cooked potatoes in a food processor using the metal “S” blade.

Place the ground chickpeas, potatoes, and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Using your hands, knead the ingredients together, making sure the mixture holds together.

NOTE: Keep a bowl of water nearby to dip your hands in, if the mixture feels a little dry. Shape the mixture into 21 ping pong sized balls.

Cut 21 (6”x6”) squares out of two-ply cheesecloth, and 21 (10”) strands of kitchen twine. Wrap each ball in a cheesecloth and tied the top with a piece of twine. Cook several topik at a time in a pot of salted, gently boiling water until they float to the top — about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon.

For this recipe, go to:


*“As Armenians commemorate the miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we exchange the joy with our family and friends by re-enacting the amazing discovery of the emptied tomb on that first Easter. Traditionally, we use onion skins to dye boiled eggs a rich red color (signifying the blood of Christ). The exterior of the hardboiled egg represents the tomb which contained the crucified Body of our Lord. Holding the egg in our right hand, we greet one another saying, ‘Christ is risen from the dead!’ and the others answer, ‘Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ!’ Then, one person strikes the top of the other person’s egg to re-create the sound of that ‘crack’ which opened the tomb. As we remove the shell, we see the egg white which recalls the burial shroud. Then, we remove the shroud to reveal the golden joy of Life, Hope and Resurrection symbolized by the yolk.” – The Tradition of Cracking Easter Eggs Amongst Armenians by Rev. Dr. George A. Leylegian

Sonia Tashjian’s Carrot (or Apple) Lenten Cake

“Limitations bring inspiration, ingenuity and creativity. Cooking during Lent with only a few restricted ingredients challenges our creativity. In this way, deprivation leads to blessings, opening our minds to new ideas. Lenten dishes such as this special cake from Sonia Tashjian can transform a simple meal symbolizing denial into something delightful. I’ve noted that apple juice and applesauce may be substituted for the carrot juice and puree in this recipe,” says Robyn Kalajian.


5 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup carrot juice (or apple juice with no sugar added)

1 cup carrot puree (unsweetened applesauce)

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

1/2 cup raisins

Garnish: 1/2 cup sesame seeds


In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon. Next, stir in the oil, carrot (or apple) juice and carrot puree (or apple sauce).

After the cake dough is formed, stir in the chopped nuts and raisins. Lightly oil a baking tray or cake pan large enough to hold the dough, such as a 9 x 13 pan. Flatten dough with wet hands, then sprinkle sesame seeds on the top.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake in the center rack of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes.

For this recipe, go to:

Also see:

Robyn Kalajian is a retired culinary teacher whose passion for cooking and knowledge of Armenian and Middle Eastern cuisine has earned her an international following as creator and chief cook of the site. Her husband and sous-chef Douglas is an author and retired journalist who has written extensively about Armenian food and culture. “Our website aims to capture and preserve the recipes Armenian grandmothers never had time to write down.

It is a big job that’s getting bigger as Armenian cuisine evolves around the world. We celebrate the talented people who prepare and enjoy this wonderful food by sharing stories told around the Armenian dinner table. We hope you enjoy our instructive how-to-make videos and visit our website for more recipes soon,” says Robyn. Go to:

For how-to-make videos and more, see:

Copyright 2022 @ thearmeniankitchen



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