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Catholic Recipe: Pilaff


  • 3 cups cracked wheat
  • 4 cups minced cooked lamb
  • salt
  • 6 cups stock
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • pepper
  • cinnamon
  • Details

  • Prep Time: 1 day, 2 hours
  • Difficulty: • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: Armenia

The origin of the feast of the Transfiguration has been attributed to Saint Gregory the Illuminator who flourished in Lower Armenia during the fourth century. He is said to have substituted it for a pagan feast of Aphrodite called Vartavarh (the flaming of the rose) and the old name was retained, in that region at least, to designate the Transfiguration, because "Christ opened his glory like a rose on Mount Thabor."

In Armenian villages the day is still celebrated with unusual ceremonies in the course of which peasants lead to the church a sheep with decorated horns, on each tip of which is placed a lighted candle. Flowers, fruit, and sheaves are also brought and laid before the altar. Following this ceremony a fair usually takes place; there are races and games, and a crown of roses is the customary prize. During the feasting that follows is likely to appear a Pilaff.


Soak the cracked wheat (cracked barley may be substituted) overnight. Drain the wheat, mix with the meat, and salt to taste. Place in a large kettle, add about half the stock (water and bouillon cubes may be used, allowing one cube for each cup of water), and heat slowly. Cook for about an hour, stirring almost constantly and adding stock as necessary. Serve in hot, deep plates, pour melted butter over each serving, and dust with pepper and cinnamon to taste.

Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951
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