The Vegan Armenian Kitchen’s Darehats

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LOS ANGELES — “I enjoyed this specialty bread during my first year in Armenia and received the revered ‘lucky’ piece — and had many more incredible years in Armenia,” says author, writer, and recipe developer Lena Tashjian. “Darehats is an Armenian traditional bread served when the family gathers around the holiday table, the chef or cook cuts the bread and serves  it to the members of the family and their guests. The family member who receives the portion of bread with the coin (the revered piece) is granted good luck and blessings during the upcoming year.”

“The Darehats, or Bread of the Year, is a naturally vegan bread prepared for the New Year. It is usually served on New Year’s Day or early January (or really, at any time of year). It features a beautiful design on top, similar to gata. In addition to kneading the dough, many chefs may add a coin or fruit seed on top of the middle layer before sealing it. The cake is then cut into 12 pieces to represent the New Year — or depending on how many people will be enjoying it. It is said the tradition of Darehats (other names are Dari, Grgene, Kloj, etc.) began centuries ago. In the spring, the first man or baker prepared the bread using the last of the dried fruits and decorated it with seeds. The bread was dedicated to the gods in the hope of a productive crop for the new year,” adds Lena.

The Vegan Armenian Kitchen’s Darehats Photo: Diana Unanyan

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

3⁄4 cup sugar

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1 cup neutral oil (vegetable or canola oil)

3⁄4 cup warm/room temperature water

1 cup chopped dried fruits (such as raisins, dates, figs, and apricots)

1 cup crushed nuts (such as walnuts and almonds)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt, to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons Simple Syrup (page 19 of the Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook, or substitute maple syrup)

A handful of sesame seeds, nigella seeds, or hemp seeds (optional)

A clean coin or fruit seed (optional)

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix the flour, baking soda, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the oil and water and combine well, kneading the dough. It will be a stretchy/spongy dough.

If you want to decorate the top of the bread, set aside a small golf ball-sized amount of the dough. Split the rest into two equal parts and set aside. In another bowl, combine the dried fruits, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and stir. Add the syrup to this bowl to lightly bind them together.

In an oiled round 12″ X 4″ cake pan, flatten out one half of the dough after lightly re-kneading it. Spread the nut-fruit mixture across it. Place the clean coin or seed somewhere on the nut-fruit mixture.

Lightly knead and flatten the second half of the dough on a flat surface before placing it on top, making sure to seal all around. If you saved some dough, make a shape of your choosing to decorate the top of the bread.

Optional: Brush some water on top of the dough and sprinkle on your choice of seeds.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, and then broil on low for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Note: Don’t forget to let guests who will be enjoying this bread know their piece may have a coin or fruit seed inside to avoid any choking hazards or chipped teeth.

This recipe is featured in The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook, to order go https://veganarmeniankitchen.com/product/vegan-armenian-kitchen-cookbook/

The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook (published in 2020) can be ordered on The Vegan Armenian Kitchen website, where recipes, videos, and more will be shared. While the majority of recipes found in the cookbook are naturally plant-based or Lenten, Lena Tashjian has veganized a few Armenian classics, including khash. This cookbook showcases that it is possible to reduce or eliminate animal product consumption while still enjoying many classic Armenian dishes and recipes. It is an updated collection of plant-based recipes and stories from Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora. It is a  self-published collaborative project between Lena, the author and recipe developer, and Siroon, the photographer and food stylist. The 265-page book contains 119 recipes, and covers a range of items, including herbs, pastes, syrups, drinks, breakfast, salads, soups and stews, bread, main dishes like various types of dolma (tolma) and bean dishes, accompaniments (especially various rice, bulgur and potato dishes) and desserts. Information is provided on folk practices like reading coffee grounds or toasting customs. The photographs make the various food items seem tantalizingly close and appealing.

On June 16, 2021, it was announced that The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook was shortlisted for the Taste Canada Awards. The Taste Canada Awards “annually honours superior writing and publishing throughout Canada’s culinary community, in English and French.”

References:

https://veganarmeniankitchen.com/

https://www.facebook.com/veganarmeniancookbook

https://www.instagram.com/veganarmeniancookbook/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/veganarmeniankitchen/?hl=en

https://thearmeniankitchen.com/darehats-pronounced-dar-ee-hots-new/

https://veganarmeniankitchen.com/recipes/darehats-armenian-cake/

https://veganarmeniankitchen.com/tag/armenian-cuisine/

https://veganarmeniankitchen.com/blogs/2022placeyerevan/

https://www.facebook.com/armenianandmiddleeasterncooking/posts/armenian-new-year-bread-tarehatz-or-darehats-pronounced-dar-ee-hots-new-year-bre/10157937507290794/

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