My friend Lesa lost her husband, Chris, this past weekend. Chris died in a hiking accident.
Lesa is a fabulous chef, and I met her several years ago at an Armenian cooking class she taught at PCC. After that class, I asked her to donate her time as a chef-instructor for a class to help raise money for SOAR, an organization that provides support to Armenian orphans. It was at that class I met her husband Chris, who is of Armenian descent.
Like me, Lesa found her husband later in life and two of us bonded over this connection along with our love of Armenian food. We often talked about how rare it was to find such great men “at our age,” and how lucky were to share our lives with them. So hearing the news that Chris was gone was both shocking and heart-wrenching.
Lesa told me Chris’s ancestors came from the western region of Armenia, which is now part of Turkey. I also remember her saying that one of Chris’s favorite dishes was Kofta Mishmisheya.
Mishmisheya takes a bit of time to make, but this dish reminds me of the importance in taking the time whenever we can find it. We never know what tomorrow will bring, and sometimes even today. In our busy lives, with rarely a moment to sit, sitting down to a meal with loved ones is a gift, a precious gift worth savoring.
In memory: Chris Abajian
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 -4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 lbs ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon dried lime powder (found at Middle Eastern or Indian shops, or online)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- salt and pepper
- 3 -4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 7 ounces dried apricots, soaked in water for 1/2 hour (use the tart, not sweetened variety)
- 3 -4 tablespoons currants or 3 -4 tablespoons raisins
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- In a large frying pan, fry the onion in oil until golden.
- With your hands, work the meat into a paste with the dried lime, cloves, allspice, 3/4 tsp salt, and pepper, and roll into walnut-sized balls.
- Add them to the pan and cook, turning them to brown all over.
- Stir in the tomato paste, add the drained apricots and the currants or raisins, and cover with water.
- Simmer about 25 minutes (and longer is fine too…the flavors just get richer!).
- Crush the apricots a bit with a fork, add lemon juice and sugar and a little salt and pepper, and simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Serve over rice.
Want more to savor? Check out Wanderfood Wednesday.