Nene Avakian’s Tutum

Recipe Corner: Kohar Avakian’s Cherished Family Recipe for Tutum

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“When I was a young bride, I went to my in-law’s house every week so I could learn how to make the Armenian dishes my husband grew up with and enjoyed eating. And I always enjoyed eating what my in-laws made!” – Crystal Avakian

Amber Balakian at Balakian Farms in Reedley, CA writes: “There’s nothing better than a cherished family recipe that has been passed down for generations. With just one bite, memories can flood in and bring us back to special times and moments. We’re pleased to share this recipe from our dear and talented friend, Kohar Avakian. Kohar’s recipe for tutum (tutumi gud is pumpkin or squash seed in Armenian), has been passed down to her mother, Crystal, from her father’s mother, Kohar’s beloved grandmother, Nene, who lived for many years in Worcester, MA. See: https://www.facebook.com/balakianfarms

“My favorite Armenian recipe comes with a story and a long history,” says Kohar. “This hearty, tomato-based pumpkin stew recipe has been passed down to my Black/Nipmuc mother from Nene, my Armenian (Marashtsi/Beirutsi) paternal grandmother. Thanks to the amazing heirloom tomato products of a Black-Armenian, female-owned farm @balakianfarms, my mother made this dish on my birthday. She made the recipe in a pressure cooker, and the results were outstanding. Nene passed away in 2006 when I was 10, but her memory lives on through her character, spirit and many skills — and the traditional Armenian recipes she lovingly prepared for her children and family during her lifetime.”

Kohar Avakian and her mother Crystal Avakian. Photos courtesy Kohar Avakian

“My grandmother, Semagul (Nene) Yeranian Avakian, was born and raised in Beirut. Her mother was Takouhie Boudakian from Gesaria and her father was Movses Yeranian from Marash, a place that she kept alive in her stories and recollections to my family. She passed down a thick red book to us, preserving the history of Marash between its pages, she said. She was a great orator and would always bless our family meals. She was a nurse and my very own Armenian school teacher. She migrated to the United States as a result of the civil war in Beirut because of a dream she had, which led to the rest of my extended family finding refuge in Worcester,” says Kohar.

“Nahabed Avakian (my grandfather) was born in Yozgat, Turkey in 1920,” says Kohar. “As a result of the Armenian Genocide, he fled to Syria as an orphaned child and eventually found refuge in Lebanon, where he met my grandmother Nene. Although he died two years before I was born, my father’s stories rendered him larger than life. The luminous shadow of his life remains imprinted upon mine. I feel the reverberation of my grandparent’s sacrifices today. And through my father’s eyes, I see him more clearly. Through his eyes, I am able to recognize my own.”

“Here’s my tribute to the many exceptional, determined mothers, aunts, and grandmothers like Nene who nourished and sustained generation after generation of strong, independent daughters and granddaughters through the centuries. It’s because of these resilient, spirted women that I continue to have faith that our future daughters, sisters and children will have greater opportunities to thrive and succeed in anything they want to do or be,” adds Kohar. “I cherish my parent’s marriage of 37 years, and my mother’s deep love and support for her family and children. I believe my grandmother is with me and by my side in all that I do — I think of her whenever we make this recipe.”

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“As a fourth-generation farmer,” says Amber, “I set out to create healthy and tasty products at our company. Using my Grandma Stella’s recipe passed down through generations, we created our popular line of Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes. Balakian Farms is a women-owned business today, and we’re bringing a new freshness and sweetness to cooks and kitchens around the world. We continue to believe all tomatoes are created equal no matter their shape, size or color. Balakian Farm’s Organic Blended Red Heirloom Tomato Blend has a classic flavor profile that will intensify any of your favorite family recipes.”

To purchase the Balakian Farms heirloom tomatoes used in Kohar’s recipe, go to: https://balakianfarms.com/products/organic-blended-red-heirloom-tomatoes

For this recipe, you’ll need: a large pot, Dutch oven, pressure cooker or Instant Pot (of your choice). This recipe was made in a pressure cooker:

Ingredients:

1 pound of beef/lamb, cut into one-inch cubes

1 medium onion, diced or chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups fresh or frozen pumpkin cubes

4 tablespoons olive oil, to taste

1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes

2 cups Balakian Farms Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes

2 cups water or beef broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons dried crushed mint

Salt, pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Preparation:

Chop one medium onion and soften it in two tablespoons of oil in a pressure cooker.

Remove the onions and set them to the side. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pressure cooker and brown the beef. Add the onions back into the pressure cooker with the garlic, and cook for another minute or two. Add salt, pepper, and allspice.

Add the diced tomatoes, the Balakian Farms Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes, the water or beef broth, and tomato paste, and stir.

Bring everything to a boil and lower the heat, allowing the ingredients to simmer until the meat is softened (cook for 10-15 minutes here, or longer, depending on taste.)

Once the meat is softened, add the chickpeas and fresh or frozen cubed pumpkin (1 1/2-inch cubes). Let ingredients simmer and cook until the vegetables and pumpkin have softened. Add lemon juice and mint leaves. Stir, season to taste, and cook for 5 more minutes total. Check seasonings and serve.

Kohar Avakian’s parents on their wedding day

Kohar Dzovig Avakian

Kohar Avakian is an Armenian, Black, and Nipmuc scholar and a proud member of the Armenian community of Worcester, MA. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies at Yale University.

“My name is Kohar Avakian, which means ‘gem’ in Armenian. I was born and raised in a huge Black, Armenian, and Native family in Worcester, MA, the ancestral land of my tribe, the Nipmuc Nation, and home to one of the oldest Armenian communities in the U.S. Like this mosaic, I am a composite of the people, memories, and languages preserved within my communities and infused into the land around me. These people, memories, and languages are absolutely foundational to my approach to history. As a descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors still awaiting reparations, I have always been captivated by the unparalleled experience of learning about other peoples’ stories through their own eyes. There is nothing quite like hearing someone’s history from their own mouth. Adding vibrancy and color to my life as a Ph.D. student in American Studies at Yale, photography, oral history interviews, and multi-media art (digital collage, drawing, ceramics) have provided me an outlet to explore the intersection of race, reparations, memory, kinship, and virtual presence in the digital 21st century.”

Kohar graduated from Dartmouth College in 2017 with a B.A. with Honors in History, modified with Native American Studies, cum laude. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, she completed a senior thesis on the history of legal whiteness in the U.S., using the case study of Armenian immigrants in Worcester––the first Armenian community in America. For her doctoral research, she plans to continue studying racial formation in the Armenian diaspora within the broader contexts of settler colonialism, slavery, and Asian exclusion. Through historical photography and oral history research methods, she strives to explore the palimpsestic histories of her Armenian, Black, and Native ancestors in order to illuminate the intersections of race, migration, and genocide in the United States at large.

Semagul and Nahabed Avakian on their wedding day

Connect at:

Instagram: @kavakian9 & @keepingupwithkohar

Twitter: @kavakian9

https://greatfon.com/v/kavakian9

Email: kohar.avakian@yale.edu

References:

https://mirrorspectator.com/2021/02/18/academics-discuss-race-ethnic-and-armenian-studies-during-zoom-panel/

https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/757049594df44877a5cd396ca639266e

https://news.yale.edu/2019/02/13/prep-program-makes-talented-students-even-stronger-doctoral-candidates

https://soundcloud.com/haytoug-talks/reflecting-on-armenian-racial-identity-with-kohar-avakian

https://armenianweekly.com/2020/06/04/reparations-3/

https://muckrack.com/kohar-avakian

https://medium.com/the-contrasts-blog/the-worth-of-our-words-e7891e06d17e

Other:

“Reflecting On Armenian Racial Identity with Kohar Avakian,” Haytoug Talks: https://soundcloud.com/haytoug-talks/reflecting-on-armenian-racial-identity-with-kohar-avakian

Forthcoming: Avakian, Kohar. “An Inter/Racial Love History,” in Imagining and Seeing: Voices of the Armenian Diaspora, ed. Aram Mrjoian (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press), forthcoming 2022, print.

For more tutum recipes, go to: http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Adventures_in_Armenian_Cooking_-_Vegan#Zucchini_fritters_.28DABGADZ_TUTUM.29

Note: The late artist, author and poet, Arto Der Haroutunian, included his recipe for Pumpkin with Apricots and Rice (Tutum printzov) in one of his many acclaimed cookbooks, Vegetarian Dishes from Across the Middle East. See:

https://books.google.com/books?id=08SIDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT167&lpg=PT167&dq=Pumpkin+with+Apricots+and+Rice+(Tutum+printzov)&source=bl&ots=pc30DnfHey&sig=ACfU3U2hbB3lft9YpSpiDdsrxNjSlX2TrA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjJxtys49r4AhVmJkQIHV3sDdgQ6AF6BAgVEAM#v=onepage&q=Pumpkin%20with%20Apricots%20and%20Rice%20(Tutum%20printzov)&f=false

“Nahabed Avakian (my grandfather) was born in Yozgat, Turkey in 1920,” says
Kohar. “As a result of the Armenian Genocide, he fled to Syria as an
orphaned child and eventually found refuge in Lebanon, where he met my
grandmother Nene. Although he died two years before I was born, my father’s
stories rendered him larger than life. The luminous shadow of his life
remains imprinted upon mine. I feel the reverberation of my grandparent’s
sacrifices today. And through my father’s eyes, I see him more clearly.
Through his eyes, I am able to recognize my own.”

“Here’s my tribute to the many exceptional, determined mothers, aunts, and
grandmothers like Nene who nourished and sustained generation after
generation of strong, independent daughters and granddaughters through the
centuries. It’s because of these resilient, spirted women that I continue to
have faith that our future daughters, sisters and children will have greater
opportunities to thrive and succeed in anything they want to do or be,” adds
Kohar. “I cherish my parent’s marriage of 37 years, and my mother’s deep
love and support for her family and children. I believe my grandmother is
with me and by my side in all that I do — I think of her whenever we make
this recipe.”

Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes from Balakian Farms. Photo courtesy
https://balakianfarms.com/

“As a fourth-generation farmer,” says Amber, “I set out to create healthy
and tasty products at our company. Using my Grandma Stella’s recipe passed
down through generations, we created our popular line of Organic Blended
Heirloom Tomatoes. Balakian Farms is a women-owned business today, and we’re
bringing a new freshness and sweetness to cooks and kitchens around the
world. We continue to believe all tomatoes are created equal no matter
their shape, size or color. Balakian Farm’s Organic Blended Red Heirloom
Tomato Blend has a classic flavor profile that will intensify any of your
favorite family recipes.”

To purchase the Balakian Farms heirloom tomatoes used in Kohar’s recipe, go
to:
https://balakianfarms.com/products/organic-blended-red-heirloom-tomatoes
Forthcoming: Avakian, Kohar. “An Inter/Racial Love History,” in Imagining
and Seeing: Voices of the Armenian Diaspora, ed. Aram Mrjoian (Austin, TX:
University of Texas Press), forthcoming 2022, print.

For more tutum recipes, go to:
http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Adventures_in_Armenian_Cooking_-_Vegan#Zucc
hini_fritters_.28DABGADZ_TUTUM.29

Note: The late artist, author and poet, Arto Der
Haroutunian, included his recipe for Pumpkin with Apricots and Rice (Tutum
printzov) in one of his many acclaimed cookbooks.

 

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