Friday, February 17, 2012

Tahnabour, Mint, and Memories

Here's Grandma Jennie's recipe for Tahnabour, an Armenian soup much praised in Albert Apelian's novel, THE ANTIOCHIANS:

4 cups home made chicken broth, or broth made from boiling lamb bones
1/2 cup dried wheat (dzedzadz) or dried barley, soaked overnight
3 cups madzoon (yogurt)
1/2 cup onion, peeled and chopped, sauteed in butter
1/4 cup chopped mint and parsley
Salt and pepper

Soak wheat or barley over-night in fresh water.   The next morning, strain and rinse the dzedzadz (wheat) or barley in clear water, and put the grain in a large, heavy pot.  Add broth and cook the grain until tender. Meanwhile, stir the madzoon (yogurt) in a separate bowl until smooth.  In a frypan, melt butter and saute the chopped onions. While onions are sauteeing, chop the mint and add to the onions, sauteeing briefly.  Chop the parsley.   Add the sauteed onions, sauteed mint and fresh parsley (not sauteed) to the soup and serve immediately.

Marash Girl's mother, Grandma Jennie, often made this wonderful soup -- one of Marash Girl's favorites.  Grandma Jennie would always use her own home-made madzoon (yogurt) after it had become a bit sour, which happens after about a week. Although this soup is much tastier when the madzoon (yogurt) is sour, the soup can be made with fresh sweet yogurt as well.

Note: During the summer, Grandma Jennie always used mint and parsley freshly picked from her back yard, from Grandpa Peter's garden.  In the fall, one of Grandpa Peter's and Grandma Jennie's favorite activities was drying their harvest of mint.  They would spread brown paper bags torn open over a bed in the guest room and carefully lay out that fall's mint, mint still on the stems that had been rinsed in cool water and swung dry in a clean pillow case.  (On the day that Grandpa Peter passed away, Marash Girl found mint spread out on a bed in the guest room and more mint stored in a drawer of the high boy in that room.)

Further Note:  Grandpa Peter's favorite drink was mint tea (anoukh, as Armenians know it), which Grandma Jennie made for him daily with their home grown mint.  Perhaps that's what kept him alive and well until he was 97 1/2!


  1. One of my favorite soups, hot or cold. But if served hot--Grandma Jennie may have forgotten to mention this--add a spoonful of flour to the yogurt, or beat an egg into it, otherwise it will curdle in the hot soup!

  2. Hi,
    I Read these words, I was impressed. Because I live in the province of Marash. Turks, Armenians, and we know about the hundreds of stories. Bitter and sweet. Marash is actually a school girl. Girls school. Currently being used as a high school. Sometimes I go there. School in the old Armenian orphans. Been provided a great education here. Sewing, cooking, behavioral science, music, etc..
    Described here in our ordinary meals meals. My mother always do the dishes. However, this taste alamzsınız America. Because no Marash pepper. No Thyme. I have the privilege of climate and nature.
    Anyway, as a Turk., A family of Armenian origin, as a guest waiting marash'a. But I am proud to host them. It is also unrivaled in the business of ice cream.

    1. Chok Teshekur Ederim. Please read Marash Girl often. She writes every day at the website, and continue to comment. We understand Turkish, so you can answer in Turkish.