The White Plains Examiner

Armenian Cuisine Prepared Fresh and Local Highlighted at Food Festival

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In the kitchen at St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church, generations of women share recipes and prepare for a Thanksgiving feast. Ellie Krolian Photo

Armenia is a small land-locked country bordering on Turkey, Soviet Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. Despite its small size the spirit of the Armenian people is big and many of their cultural traditions celebrated today date back thousands of years.

This is also true for the tasty recipes of traditional dishes being prepared by the Women’s Guild of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church in White Plains where in the kitchen generations of women have gathered to share their recipes, cooking techniques and stories.

Preparations are underway for a food festival and holiday vendor fair the weekend of November 17 and 18. “This is the first time we are doing this in a number of years,” Ellie Krolian told The White Plains Examiner in a recent interview. “Everything is homemade with fresh ingredients. A lot of time and effort goes into every recipe and we are having a lot of fun.”

Because the food festival will take place over two days, visitors will be able to purchase hot prepared meals to eat on-site or to take home with them. Food items are also being packaged for individual sale.

Of particular interest is a dish called manti, similar to a “miniscule” ravioli made from fresh dough filled with minced and spiced meat and served with broth or yogurt. Another favorite is a lamb and beef meatball housed in a bulgar wheat casing as well as stuffed grape leaves and spinach pie. Many of the dishes are prepared with Zathar, a spice blend of sesame seeds, powdered sumac and dried thyme. Cumin and dried cherry are other unique and aromatic spices used in Armenian dishes.

Along with the savory foods there will be plenty of baked goods for sale including freshly made baklava with layers of filo pastry, chopped nuts and syrup or honey.

While the Women’s Guild does all the food preparation, they have help from many members of the church including the youth group that will help out during the festival.

“There is a relationship between the food, the culture and the language,” explained Krolian. “There is a real commonality among members of the Armenian community supported by this cultural interplay that has a long history. The Armenian Church is an Apostolic Church unto itself having been created in the year 301 AD when Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity.

“Armenia is a small nation that has been persecuted over the years, but which has been on the cutting edge of innovation for centuries,” Krolian explained. The public is invited to share in this wonderful cultural heritage and to taste the aromatically prepared dishes with a Mediterranean flair.

The food festival and vendor fair will be held Saturday, Nov. 17 from 1 to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. at St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church, 1131 North Street, White Plains. Admission and parking are free. The White House Thrift Shoppe will be open both days for additional shopping. For more information visit

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