Mouhalabiye (Mouhalabieh) Photo and recipes courtesy of Robyn Kalajian

Recipe Corner: Mouhalabiye (Mouhalabieh) from the Armenian Kitchen

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This traditional Middle Eastern dessert recipe is from the late Alice Bezjian’s bestselling The Complete Armenian Cookbook published in 1983, and is reprinted courtesy of influential Armenian food blogger Robyn Kalajian at thearmeniankitchen.com.

Alice was born in 1913 in Cairo, Egypt, of Armenian parents. Her family moved to Asia Minor for a short time and later to Syria before finally settling down in Beirut, Lebanon. At an early age, she was introduced to the joy of cooking by her maternal grandfather. He was a widely traveled man, who had been around the world at a time when traveling was neither easy nor fashionable. He used to bring new recipes from faraway places and cook large dinners for the whole family. He often said that cooking was fun, but the greatest pleasure was sharing one’s creative dishes with appreciative friends. In Beirut, Alice took cooking lessons from the best known chefs in the country. She later gave cooking lessons and taught her students how to make and present food in creative, colorful, and appetizing ways. See: http://www.abrilbooks.com/alice-bezjian

In 1964, Alice moved to Los Angeles with her family where she and her husband, Hagop Garouj Bezjian, started a gourmet delicatessen store. The store was highly successful, and became a landmark location for many gourmet cooks, chefs, and food lovers in Southern California. Hagop passed away in 1990 in Los Angeles.

It is often said that Alice was always at her store, graciously dispensing her favorite recipes and culinary expertise with her friends and customers. Sunset Magazine and New West wrote articles about the store, and Alice’s traditional recipes were published in those

magazines. She went to her store frequently to meet her customers and exchange ideas and recipes before she passed away in 2003 in Los Angeles.

Alice Bezjian

“Mouhalabiye is a classic, simple Lebanese pudding, similar to a blancmange in France or the Italian panna cotta. This is a light, fresh dessert coming straight from Lebanon, it is easy to prepare, and requires very few ingredients. It is similar to Haytaliyeh, a Syrian dessert,” adds Robyn. “The texture is almost like a flan, it’s soft and smooth but holds its shape well. Haytaliyeh is very refreshing during the hot summer days. It consists of whole milk cooked with cornstarch. When cold, the mixture is served with clotted cream or ice cream, and then rose petal jam or orange-blossom-infused syrup is poured over it.”

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Ingredients:

3 cups milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 cup water

1 teaspoon rose water or 1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional toppings: rose petal jam, orange blossom water, ground pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts or hazelnuts

Preparation:

In a medium pan, bring the milk, sugar and one cup of water to a boil; stir occasionally.

Dissolve cornstarch in one cup of water then add it into the milk-sugar mixture, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture bubbles, about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Finally, add rose water or vanilla for flavoring.

Pour into individual serving cups and chill. Serve with sprinkled ground pistachio nuts (or walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts). Decorate with rose petal jam, if desired. For this recipe, go to: https://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/2011/05/searching-for-noonoog-and-hyetaliyah.html

(Easier) Grape Juice Rojik (Roejig)

Alice Bezjian’s Roejig Recipe from The Complete Armenian Cookbook

“Making roejig is a tedious, time-consuming process,” says Robyn. “I wondered if there could possibly be an easier way to make this sweet delight. From Alice Bezjian’s The Complete Armenian Cookbook, I discovered a less labor-intensive version of making roejig, but be warned, it still requires time and patience to prepare.”

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cornstarch

4 cups water, divided

5 cups sugar

1 cup concentrated grape juice

1/2 pound walnuts halves, shelled

 

Preparation:

Combine the cornstarch with the 1 cup of water in a mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Add 1 more cup of water and stir.

Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove any lumps. Set aside.

In a saucepan combine the sugar and concentrated grape juice in the remaining 2 cups of the water. Over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved.

Gently stir one-half of the sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture. Then add the remaining sugar mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, about 1 hour, or until the mixture forms threadlike pieces when dropped into cold water.

Pour half the mixture into an 11” x 17” baking pan liberally dusted with cornstarch. Press walnut halves into the mixture in 3 or 4 close rows. Pour the remaining mixture over the nuts. Sprinkle with more cornstarch.

Cover with plastic wrap for at least 10 hours. Using the walnut rows as your guide, cut the roejig into 3 or 4 rows. Generously roll each strip into cornstarch. Wrap each roll separately in wax paper and freeze until you are ready to serve. Then unwrap, bring to room temperature, and cut into slices about a quarter inch thick.

See: https://thearmeniankitchen.com/easy-roejig-is-that-even-possible/

THE COMPLETE ARMENIAN COOKBOOK INCLUDING FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL RECIPES, Hardcover – Originally published in 1983 by Rosekeer Press:

“The Middle Eastern recipes in Mrs. Bezjian’s book are not easily found in other cookbooks. I had not anywhere encountered a recipe for Ayesh-el-Sa-raya, a bread baked in syrup and topped with clotted cream. There is even a workable recipe for lokoom, a fruit paste, for which I had been searching for years. There are Armenian dishes which may perhaps surprise many Armenians, such as paska, the Russian-Armenian Easter bread, snail shaped fritters with syrup, or a pudding made with chicken breasts. Certainly, any Westerner will be fascinated with the variety, as I was.”

Order today:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Armenian-Cookbook-Alice-Bezjian/dp/0915033003

http://www.abrilbooks.com/complete-armenian-cookbook-the.html

https://agbubookstore.org/products/pre-order-here-the-complete-armenian-cookbook

Robyn Kalajian is a retired culinary teacher who has a passion for cooking Armenian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Her husband Douglas is an author and retired journalist who has written extensively about Armenian food and culture. Visit their website for more recipes and how-to-make videos, go to: https://www.youtube.com/c/dkalajianTAK/videos

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/TheArmenianKitchen/_saved/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheArmenianKitchen/posts/

https://www.instagram.com/cookeatkef/

Available now from the Armenian Film Foundation:

Armenian Film Foundation

The Art of Traditional Armenian Cooking

Time: 60 minutes

A Cultural Heritage Video

Order today, go to: http://www.armenianfilm.org/drupal/films/art-of-traditional-armenian-cooking

Skilled chefs share cherished cooking secrets with a step-by-step demonstration of a variety of traditional Armenian foods. Favorite recipes include selections from hor d’oeuvres to main dishes, and desserts. The diversities of regional preparations will be noted in conjunction with a historical and cultural perspective. Alice Bezjian, renowned chef and the author of the bestselling book entitled, The Complete Armenian Cookbook, leads a group of skilled chefs as they share cherished cooking secrets with a step-by-step demonstration of a variety of traditional Armenian foods. The other chefs are Sovag Karmardian, Hagop Bezjian and Maurice Sabbagh. All films (on DVD format) cost $19.95 except Supplement to The Forgotten Genocide, which costs $14.95. For other films available purchase (on DVD format), go to http://armenianfilm.org/drupal/affstore

See:

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/tag/alice-bezjian/

https://www.armenianvendorstore.com/The-Art-of-Armenian-Cooking-Michael-Hagopian-p/1105.htm

https://mirrorspectator.com/2022/01/06/alice-bezjians-walnut-date-maamoul-lebanese-cookies/

https://www.dontbelieveinjetlag.com/middle-east/7-tasty-syrian-desserts/

 

Copyright 2022 @ thearmeniankitchen

 

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