As we transition into summer light fare cooking, I chose to take a stab at making Mock Khema or Eech. I am not sure of the origins of the recipe or where the word Eech came from, but our family always called it Mock Khema. Khema is a dish served as raw meat. Mock Khema is the replacement during Lent when we don’t eat meat and replace the raw meat ingredient with Bulghur. Mock, meaning not real but fake, or in Armenian…sood.
This is another dish I buy regularly from the Armenian stores and have never made. So this was the perfect dish to try to learn and master for myself during the quarantine. I have also heard from readers that they would like to see the recipes in the column. I will start to provide the recipes I use or a version of them. I sometimes tailor a recipe to what I like or my family prefers, and you should all do the same. I would like to give credit to the recipe book that is my go-to, the St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church Ladies Guild Cookbook, The Armenian Kitchen.
I was fortunate enough to end up in the Watertown/Greater Boston Armenian community when I married Ara Krafian. I have traveled to many church and community bazaars and picnics in my lifetime, and hands down the St. Stephen’s Church bazaar and picnic food is the best. So I use their recipes to attempt to make things half as well as they do. Even my worst effort isn’t so bad with their recipe guidance. And I know I am going to get reader flak for the statement above from my hometown Detroitzis and of course my fellow family and friend Providencezis for my high praise of St. Stephen’s food, but that’s my honest opinion. You start with the best recipe and work from there.
Mock Khema Ingredients: Publishing original recipe with my changes in ( )
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 large chopped onions
1 large can crushed tomatoes (I used 2 cans of Hunts Tomato Sauce instead)
1/3 cup tomato sauce (This is included above)
2 cup fine bulghur
Juice of lemons, to taste
¼ tsp. salt to taste
1/8 tsp. black pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley chopped
1 bunch scallions chopped
1 large onion chopped (My family does not love onions, so I removed these onions only from the recipe)
Directions: Sauté 2 large onions in oil until very lightly brown. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. (I did not add crushed tomatoes) Simmer, covered, on low for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add bulghur. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well; cover and let rest until all liquid is absorbed. Adjust seasonings and add more lemon juice if desired. Cool and add chopped vegetables, then serve.
The recipe was short, quick and simple. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and I would have never known if I hadn’t tried. My intent with writing these columns has been not to focus on how to make dishes or what recipe and ingredients to use as I am not a chef. In order to be of service to our readers, I will try to provide the recipes in the future. Please know these recipes are not set in stone. You should research your grandmother’s recipes and have a dialogue with your family on these cooking and other family traditions during this opportune time together. My hope is to get families engaged and talking about their family stories. I encourage everyone to document their family recipes, as well as your fond recollections or those of loved ones who experienced or shared with the original Dandeegeens. God bless them all.