Nestled in a picturesque setting in the Lori region of Armenia, Vahagni is in my heart as one of the most beautiful places. It’s the location of our summerhouse where we spent our summer holidays. My childhood memories of the village are the most vivid and unforgettable. It was a time when my cousins and I would run around carefree, be outdoors, and let our imagination guide us; we didn’t miss the comfort of the city-life one bit. Five of us kids were utterly happy whether we were picking fresh berries in the forest, foraging wild thyme in the rocky hills, chasing geese down the street, building a fortress, hiking the mountain, or visiting the old ruins (or Verohagni).
My grandfather was born in that village. Even though he left Vahagni when he was young, in pursuit of education and professional life, he never cut his ties with it. He passed his love for Lori and Vahagni to us.
This recipe is one of the dishes that villagers make during lent and during Armenian Christmas. Every New Year our family will get a full pot of tolma for the holidays.
This is a very simple, rustic dish and has only a few ingredients; potatoes, bulgur, red beans, which are wrapped in a t’too (pickled) cabbage and cooked in a pickle juice, and spices with savory. There is no oil or any sort of fat in this recipe so it’s the no-fat recipe.
It’s using the t’too (pickled) cabbage. People usually pickle a whole head of cabbage for making tolmas ahead of time. All other ingredients were common staples in the village.
I want to highlight the herb I used in this recipe. Summer savory –kordyun, kondar in Armenian- is generously used in the Lori region, giving a robust and bright flavor. It has a similar flavor as marjoram, or oregano but is more earthy and a bit peppery.
Pasuts Tolma – Lenten Tolma with Beans and Potatoes
- 700 gram Pickled cabbage leaves
- 500 gram mashed potatoes
- 250 gram cooked beans
- 1/2 cup bulgur
- 2 tablespoon dried summer savory
- 1 cup pickle juice
- Combine mashed potatoes with beans. Add the bulgur wheat.
- Season with summer savory, salt and pepper. Gradually add 1-2 tablespoons of pickle juice and mix well.
- Arrange the cabbage leaves on a cutting board or a clean surface.
- Add a tablespoon of the mixture and roll the cabbage leaves in bundles.
- Place them in a cooking pan in a single layer. Place an upside-down plate on top of it and pour over the remaining pickle juice.
- Let it come to a simmer and lower the heat to a low. Cook for 30-40 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated.