No matter what you call it, this is one of those things that we can never go very long without making a batch of. Whenever we attend any kind of event, party, dinner, etc., we are always asked to make this ... and of course Paklava, but we'll save that for another day ... and yes, I know, most of you call it Baklava! 😉
Strangely, until two years ago, I had never seen this outside of my own family. I thought it was some random family recipe or a local regional item where my grandmother was born in Armenia, but apparently not!
I was at a bazaar at St. James Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown, MA, with a friend of mine, and because there was a long line on the way in, I happened to look at the menu. Usually, if you go for lunch, there is either Losh Kebab (Armenian Hamburgers) or Shish Kebab with Pilaf, Salad, etc. Because we don't make Losh Kebab very often at home, that's what I always order, so I apparently never looked at the menu before. When I saw Eech, I had to ask what it was. When my friend told me it was the red Tabouli, I had to laugh. Although that doesn't explain how I never saw anyone eating it until then?!?
As far as Kheyma goes, that's the Armenian equivalent of Steak Tartare. Since Eetch has been around a lot longer than vegetarians, my first guess was that this was the "poor man's version" of Kheyma. After thinking about it, and putting it together with the fact that Armenia was the first Christian nation, I wonder if this was actually their answer to no meat during Lent or something. I have no idea when that practice came about, but I suppose that's a possibility. Whoever started it, no matter when or why, I'm just glad they did!!
1 c fine bulgar (if numbered, use #2)
1 can (29 oz) Hunt's Tomato Sauce1 large onion, diced fine
1 large green bell pepper, diced fine
3-4 scallions, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
Go ahead and stir the tomato sauce and lemon juice into the bulgar and set that aside while you're chopping your veggies. That will give it a head-start at absorbing.
If you're short on time - or don't care what it looks like so long as it tastes great - go ahead and run the veggies through your food processor. I just prefer the look of the little chunks of green pepper, etc. Stir in the peppers, onion, and scallion, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne and refrigerate for several hours to allow the bulgar to absorb the juice and soften.
I had a roommate several years ago who loved this stuff so much, he would actually put it on hot dogs like relish! I really can't wrap my brain around that one, so I stick with crackers, pita chips, bagel crisps, celery stalks, endive spears or lettuce leaves. More recently, I started eating it in TOSTITOS® SCOOPS!® Tortilla Chips. Last night, I had some for dinner on Triscuit®.
If you're anti-wheat, you can also make it with Quinoa. See that recipe here.