Recipe Corner: Recipes from Fowler’s St. Gregory Church’s Collections from the Grapevine Cookbook


FOWLER, Calif. — Located about 10 miles south of downtown Fresno in the quiet farming community of Fowler, St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church parishioners have met and held church services in the original structure since 1910, making it the second oldest Armenian Church still in use today in America (the oldest is located in Union City, NJ, consecrated in 1907). St. Gregory Church has the distinction of being the fourth oldest established Armenian Apostolic parish in the country.

These recipes are featured in Collections from the Grapevine, 30th Anniversary Edition, an indispensable Armenian (and American) cookbook written by the Ladies Society of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church.

As the preface of the cookbook states, “As the Ladies Society of St. Gregory the Illuminator, our objective is to study, practice, and to propagate the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, the doctrines, and rites of the Armenian church. 2020 found us adapting to a global pandemic by changing our daily routines and spending more time at home – especially in our kitchens. Creating a home-cooked meal became more than an infrequent endeavor. It stood as a means for younger generations to quiet the rush of their busy lives and bond over food and family. Older generations found comfort in revisiting past routines filled with sweet memories.”

“In revising this cookbook, we have retained nearly all of the original recipes and have added almost 100 new ones. We have reorganized sections to make them more user-friendly, and have added an index to assist in finding foods you might like to prepare. We hope you will enjoy this new edition and use it regularly. As you knead the dough, or roll the yalanchi, may your hearts be fed.”

“Collections from the Grapevine is dedicated to the hard-working and devoted women who loved and supported this church from its early beginnings over 110 years ago. These women worked tirelessly to prepare countless meals for church dinners, food bazaars, picnics, and other events. Through the years, their many culinary talents and efforts received accolades from both Armenians and non-Armenians alike. The first edition of the cookbook (1990) aimed at keeping our heritage alive by transmitting and preserving favorite, well-tested recipes to future generations. We hope this edition will meet the same goals.”

Ladies Society of St. Gregory Church preparing food for their annual picnic in Fowler

Imam Bayeldi (Eggplant Appetizer) – from Mary Krikorian

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1 large eggplant

2 to 3 medium onions

2 medium green bell peppers

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup Armenian parsley, chopped

1 large tomato, sliced

Salt, pepper, and Accent to taste

1 can or a little less tomato sauce

Olive oil


Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch slices. You want uniform pieces so they will bake evenly. Sprinkle each slice with salt and let stand at least 30 minutes to expel water. Drain and dry with paper towels.

Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and bake on a cookie sheet in a hot oven (450º) until lightly browned.

In a frying pan, heat olive oil and sauté the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and spices. Do not overcook, just until wilted. Add the parsley and tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes longer. Arrange eggplant slices in a prepared baking pan and pour tomato sauce over all. Bake in a 375º oven for about 30 minutes. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

Lenten Kufta – from Marge Esraelian

A meatless kufta with a unique blend of flavors.


1 18 oz. jar chunky peanut butter

6 medium onions, chopped

1/2 to 3/4 jar (16 oz.) tahini

2 1/2 cups walnuts, ground

1 large bunch Armenian parsley, chopped

Olive oil

Outside Shell:

6 cans garbanzo beans, washed, drained, ground

2 1/2 cups fine bulgur

1 1/4 cups regular Cream of Wheat

3 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste


Lemon juice

Paprika or cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

Filling: Fry the onions in 1/4 cup of oil until wilted; remove from stove and cool. Squeeze liquid from the onions with paper towels. Combine the peanut butter, tahini, walnuts, parsley, onions, and seasonings in a large bowl. If mixture is too dry, add a little hot water. Mix or knead filling gently for a few minutes and make the balls for the filling (about the size of a walnut). Place them on a tray and cool in the refrigerator.

Outside: Combine and knead the outside shell ingredients; use a little hot water to make a workable dough. Press down in center and sides, rotating until you get a thin shell. Make an indentation in the center with your thumb and keep opening and shaping with your index and middle finger. Place one walnut-size ball of filling in the center, gently encase the filling with the outer shell. Finally, smooth the surface with wet fingers, making sure the kufta is flat on the bottom and slightly rounded on the top.

Place shaped kufta on a waxed paper-lined tray or plate, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil, adding some salt and about 1/4 cup lemon juice. Remove kufta from the refrigerator; boil in small batches for about 10 minutes until all kufta are cooked and rise to the top. Cool kufta for a few minutes; rub with a little oil and sprinkle with paprika or cayenne pepper on top and serve.

Also see: Peanut Butter Kufteh – a Unique Lenten Recipe from the Women’s Guild of St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina at:



Published in 2020, the fourth printing of Collections from the Grapevine is available for $25.00 each plus mailing costs. Please send check to: St. Gregory Ladies Society, P.O. Box 246, Fowler, CA 93625.

For information or to contribute, contact:

St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church

P.O. Box 246

Fowler, CA 93625

Office: (559) 834-2919
Fax: (559) 834-1960

© 2022 by St. Gregory Armenian Church Fowler


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