Christmas is right around the corner, which means the season of Armenian eating is here. We don’t eat a lot of Armenian food on a regular basis, but holidays are something different. From the actual Christmas celebration, to parties at friends houses, I look forward to the time of year when I get to eat all the mezze my little heart desires. And right now, my little heart desires eetch.
What’s eetch? Eetch is delicious. Literally, though, eetch is also known as mock khema. If you’re not Armenian, I’ve completely lost you by now. Let me explain. Khema (aka chee kufta), is a Middle Eastern steak tartare of sorts. It’s a combination of raw ground beef, bulgur, tomato paste, and some seasonings. It’s actually very delicious, if you couldn’t tell from the recipe. But, raw meat isn’t for everyone, so eetch is a great khema alternative. It is made with bulgur, tomato sauce, and other stuff. No meat. It’s great for those seeking to avoid food-borne illness, or for people who are just generally raw meat-averse. It’s also great for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone trying to fill up without eating meat.
You might wonder what exactly eetch tastes like. The best way to describe it is as a better version of tabbouleh. Both are made with bulgur, but eetch, for some reason, just tastes…better. It has something to do with the tomato sauce and onions. I really can’t explain it, you just have to trust me. My mom happens to have the best recipe around (fact), and it is a requested dish at many parties and family holidays. She has kindly allowed me to share the recipe with all of you, which, in my opinion, is a big deal. Please thank her if you see her.
As a bonus, eetch is about 20x easier to prepare than tabbouleh (exact calculation). You literally put all the ingredients into a bowl, stir, set aside, and that’s it. It’s ready in about an hour. THAT’S IT. Try it. I promise, you will like it.
- 1 cup finely ground bulgur
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup minced onion can use more/less to taste
- 1 cup finely chopped parsley can use more/less to taste
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup canola oil
Place all ingredients in a medium bowl or reusable container. Stir. Place, covered, in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Remove, stir with a fork (helps it "fluff up" a little), season with salt to taste (and more of any of the other ingredients, if desired), and serve chilled or at room temperature. This can either be eaten on its own, inside some pita bread, or with crackers.
It is imperative that you use fine bulgur (burgol/bulghur, they're all the same). You CANNOT use coarse bulgur; it will not work, and you will not like this recipe.
You can use either flat leaf or curly parsley. Most Armenians use curly, but I've used both and there's not much difference in the flavors.