Tag Archives: Folk recipe

Traditional Armenian Dish

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Russian Armenian
Age: 27
Occupation: Artist
Residence: Pasadena
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/4/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Russian

Պասուց Տոլմա

Transliteration: Pasus Tolma

Translation: Lent’s Stuffed cabbage

Description: Pasus Tolma is a popular Armenian dish which is a lent classic meal that most Armenians eat not only for lent but also year round. Pasus Tolma can be see seen on the table’s of any Armenian gatherings such as birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and other gatherings, but it is the most popular dish before Easter when people are on the lent diet. Pasus Tolma is cabbage leaves stuffed with beans, lentil’s, garbanzo beans and bulgar. Best served cold.

Background Information: Pasus Tolma is a popular traditional Armenian dish prepared primarily for lent but can be served at many different gatherings.

Context: The informant told me about this dish during a video call in which I asked her to tell me about an Armenian traditional recipe that she knows about.

Thoughts: As an Armenian I am also aware of this dish and have participated in its consumption during lent. The name Pasus Tolma literally translates as a Lent version of Tolma which is a popular Armenian dish that is comprised of cabbage leaves stuffed with meat. I understand why this dish would be used in lent as Georgian Christians do not eat meat during lent so they had to make a vegetarian version of the popular dish Tolma. This is a folk religious tradition/recipe because it is not an official meal for lent. It was made by the people as a way to find something to eat during lent. It is also folklore because of its multiplicity and variation. Some versions use rice instead of bulgar and other iterations have different legumes instead of garbanzo beans and lentils.

Kasha Mangsho

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Singaporean
Age: 48
Occupation: IBM
Residence: Singapore
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/17
Primary Language: Bengali
Other Language(s): Bengali

Background Information: This is a long and complicated traditional Bengali (West Bengal is a northeastern Indian state) recipe that my father makes at home, and that he learned by watching his mother (my grandmother) make it at home as he was growing up. In Bengali, kashano means “to cook slowly on a low flame”. While mangsho directly translates to “meat”, it is generally used, in everyday vernacular, to refer to goat-meat or mutton. The dish is usually eaten with luchi, a deep-fried flatbread made of wheat flour. The combination of luchi and kasha mangsho is usually saved for weekend lunches or special occassions. My father moved to Singapore from India in his 20s, and has started making this dish quite recently – in the last 5 or so years.

Recipe: “So basically, kasha mangsho is a traditional Bengali dish, and what happens is that there is a thick gravy, which is what kasha mangsho means. The original name comes from the slow cooking – which in Bengali is called kashano, so basically slowly cooking the spices. So the ingredient is, mangsho of course… lamb, or goat meat. And this will be with bone – not without bone. That’s the speciality. Let’s say 1kg of mutton with bone, and we’ll take about 4 medium size potatoes cut into cubes… yeah medium size potatoes 4 or 5, cut into cubes, or halves. Uh…then, onion… probably about… 1kg will be about 2 medium size, not too small, medium size onions… Uh, chopped… Then… little bit of ginger and garlic paste… Probably, I would use 1 1/2 tablespoon of garlic and 1 tablespoon of ginger. And then for spices I use whole garam masala. So basically cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, and uh, cloves. These are whole garam masala. And apart from that spices are… turmeric powder, red chilli powder, uh… little bit of cumin powder and coriander powder. So these are the only four spices that go in. Generally, if you are cooking with lamb or mutton, and especially goat meat, which is mostly used in India, it is always preferable to boil it. I mean, basically boil it using a pressure cooker kind of thing. Otherwise it takes a very long time to cook. So while we use the pressure cooker to boil it, you can put the whole garam masala. So what happens is that because it is cooked on a pressure cooker with the whole garam masala, the flavour somehow gets infused. And later for making gravy we use the same water, the boiled water or whatever… the stock, or whatever you call it. Once that is done, take a pan and heat some oil. Traditionally Bengali cooking uses mustard oil, but you can also just use normal oil. Fry the onions… uh, the chopped onions, and after frying for a minute or two minutes at the most I use the ginger garlic paste, and I add a little bit of salt because when you add salt to onions, it always releases the… you know, the moisture from the onion, so it doesn’t become dry, its easier to cook. And then while that’s happening, on the side I am preparing the gravy. So I’ll probably take about 3 tablespoons of yoghurt. Plain yoghurt, completely. And then I’ll add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of kashmiri red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of the coriander powder, and half a teaspoon, or even less, of cumin powder. Because cumin has a very strong smell. So you add this to the yoghurt, with a little bit of water, you can mix it very well into a thick paste. So once the onion and ginger-garlic has been fried for maybe 3-4 minutes, add this paste, fry for another just few minutes, and you’ll see the oil separating from it. Then you put the boiled mutton, the potatoes, and then just on a high heat you stir fry for a few minutes. And then what I do is to cook it on a slow flame and cover the pan, and every ten minutes I just stir. I leave it for 45 minutes or so. Kasha mangsho is supposed to be dry, but you still don’t want it to be too dry, and you don’t want the masala to burn, so once you take the cover off you can add a little bit of the stock from before, to make a little more gravy. And add sugar and salt as per taste.”

Thoughts: Food traditions are an important part of Indian, or Bengali culture. My father learned it from watching it being made in his home, and he brought the recipe, and perhaps the memories associated with the food, to Singapore when he moved. Similarly, I have grown up eating his iteration of the dish at home in Singapore, and I have tried making this and other similar recipes at college in Los Angeles. It is also interesting to consider who is involved in these traditions. In my house, my father primarily did the cooking, as he enjoyed it. This was surprising to many, because in most households, the women were used to cooking for the family.

Molletes

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 50's
Occupation: Chef/Cooking Instructor
Residence: Cancun, Mexico
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/17
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Background:

I met my informant at a cooking class in Cancun, Mexico. She and her husband hold these classes in their home just outside of the Hotel Zone. They’re both in their mid-50’s and have lived in Cancun with their three children for close to twenty-five years. My informant was born and raised in Mexico City, where she spent the majority of her youth mastering regional cuisines from throughout Mexico. She ultimately attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Though she is well versed in world cuisine, she considers herself an expert in traditional Mexican cooking, as the majority of her recipes have been handed down through both her family and her husband’s.

The classes she holds are for no more than twelve people and lasts roughly six hours. She gives a short lecture on different culinary regions of Mexico and then begins an interactive cooking lesson where the group prepares twelve separate recipes. The lesson was too long to record the entirety of the performance, but I recorded some of her specific introductions and explanations of several dishes. She also gave each participant a copy of the recipes, almost all of which were passed down through the generations. The informant transcribed them and included her own specific instructions.

Performance:

“You need crispy bread…In Mexico it is always a bolillo or teller, the Mexican version of…baguette…since the times of Maximillian in the 1860’s…You can use small baguettes or cut portions from baguette. Portuguese rolls work too. We eat these breakfast, lunch, and dinner…they are easy and cheap, so good for young people who maybe don’t have much time or money, like college (jokingly gestures in my direction.)”

Recipe

4 teleras bolillos, petite baguettes or large baguettes cut into 6” portions

2 cups refried beans homemade or store bought

2 cups Mexican oaxaca mozzarella or monterrey jack, grated (any melting cheese of your liking will do)

2 tablespoons of butter

Serve with pico de gallo salsa or another salsa of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise to have 8 pieces. Spread each piece with butter then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of refried beans and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of grated cheese on top. Arrange molletes on a baking sheet as you make them. If you want, add additional toppings like ham, turkey, bacon or chorizo. Sprinkle them on top of the cheese. When they are all assembled, place the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread has a nice toasted crust around the edges. Serve with pico de gallo salsa, or a salsa of your choice, on the side or on top.

Thoughts:

As Claudia suggests in the recipe, we used crumbled chorizo. It was interesting how familiar it felt to be eating a soft, white roll; despite the beans and salsa, the dish tasted decidedly European, like something I could buy on any street corner in Los Angeles. This can probably be explained by the historical context she provided; the rolls entered Mexican cuisine under the influence of a European monarch but has become a big part of everyday Mexican cooking.

Bean Tamales

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 50's
Occupation: Chef/Cooking Instructor
Residence: Cancun, Mexico
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/17
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Background:

I met my informant at a cooking class in Cancun, Mexico. She and her husband hold these classes in their home just outside of the Hotel Zone. They’re both in their mid-50’s and have lived in Cancun with their three children for close to twenty-five years. My informant was born and raised in Mexico City, where she spent the majority of her youth mastering regional cuisines from throughout Mexico. She ultimately attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Though she is well versed in world cuisine, she considers herself an expert in traditional Mexican cooking, as the majority of her recipes have been handed down through both her family and her husband’s.

The classes she holds are for no more than twelve people and lasts roughly six hours. She gives a short lecture on different culinary regions of Mexico and then begins an interactive cooking lesson where the group prepares twelve separate recipes. The lesson was too long to record the entirety of the performance, but I recorded some of her specific introductions and explanations of several dishes. She also gave each participant a copy of the recipes, almost all of which were passed down through the generations. The informant transcribed them and included her own specific instructions.

Performance:

“Tamales…they’re party food. We have them for weddings, for birthdays, for…everything (laughter)…so we make the cooking of tamales a party too! We invite people over to come and work on the tamales…it helps because there are many steps, and we make…uh…lines, you know? We take turns doing steps. So when you make tamales, tell your friends and your family and bring out the tequila for a tamale party (laughter — she gestures to Lorenzo who brings out a bottle of tequila and begins to pour shots).”

Recipe

5 cups corn flour maseca

3 tablespoons of bacon fat or lard

2 cups of refried beans

4 jalapeños in strips or julienne

30 corn husks

1/2 teaspoon salt

Oaxaca string cheese or salsa

2 cups of chicken stock or the stock of the process of cookings the beans or water as kneed

Soak the corn husks or totomoxtles in hot water for half an hour and allowed to drain. Mix the flour with salt and little by little is added warm water. Add the melted bacon fat and mix well with the flour, beating vigorously for 10 minutes. Cover a large wooden board (25 X 40 cm.) With a piece of plastic and spread the dough with your hand, evenly, to half an inch thick. With the dough make small tortillas. Place the refried beans on top of the dough and add the peppers or cheese or salsa cover with the masa by rolling, help yourself with the plastic and to form a cylinder an roll it to make it thin with the hand on top of the board. Then cut into regular pieces of 3 inch long. Then graph them with the corn husk. The tamales are steamed for one hour and served with cream and salsa.

Thoughts:

Just as Claudia said, participating in this ritual was a lot of fun. This was the part in the class where, as a group, we all began to get to know and enjoy each other’s company. Both laughter and tequila were plentiful. This, in particular, was a great example of the joyous and communal nature of Mexican cooking and the ways in which it is used to bring people closer together and bond over a shared recipe.

Tortillas

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 50's
Occupation: Chef/Cooking Instructor
Residence: Cancun, Mexico
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/17
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Background:

I met my informant at a cooking class in Cancun, Mexico. She and her husband hold these classes in their home just outside of the Hotel Zone. They’re both in their mid-50’s and have lived in Cancun with their three children for close to twenty-five years. My informant was born and raised in Mexico City, where she spent the majority of her youth mastering regional cuisines from throughout Mexico. She ultimately attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Though she is well versed in world cuisine, she considers herself an expert in traditional Mexican cooking, as the majority of her recipes have been handed down through both her family and her husband’s.

The classes she holds are for no more than twelve people and lasts roughly six hours. She gives a short lecture on different culinary regions of Mexico and then begins an interactive cooking lesson where the group prepares twelve separate recipes. The lesson was too long to record the entirety of the performance, but I recorded some of her specific introductions and explanations of several dishes. She also gave each participant a copy of the recipes, almost all of which were passed down through the generations. The informant transcribed them and included her own specific instructions.

Performance:

“You’ll need a big cast-iron skillet or griddle and a tortilla press, too (gestures to a very old, metal tortilla press) this belonged to my grandmother, who got it from her mother, so has been in my family for…130 years? More? A long time (laughter). In most every recipe for corn tortillas the proportion is 2 cups of corn flower to 1-1/4 to…maybe 1-1/3 cups water. The difference between 1/4 and 1/3 cup can be a lot…can be very important. Also, don’t confuse corn flower and corn meal. Very different. Corn meal is a completely different process and it won’t work…when you’re done, you can keep them warm how you like…I use this (holds up a dried gourd with the top cut off as a removable top)…gourds keep things nice and warm, how we like.” 

Recipe

2 cups corn flower

1-1/4 to 1-1/3 cups of water

Mix the corn flower and the water little by little. Work with your hands to form your masa and roll it into a big ball. Take a pinch off a golf-ball sized piece of masa.

    1. Set the masa on a piece of plastic in the tortilla press and core with another piece of plastic
    2. Press the masa in tortilla press
    3. Transfer tortilla to a hot dry skillet
    4. Cook for about 30 seconds on one side, turn
    5. Cook for about 60 seconds (it should puff slightly) turn back to the first side
    6. Cook for another 30 seconds on the first side
    7. Remove and keep the tortilla warm

Thoughts:

Though both simple and fairly generic, Claudia seemed to take the most personal ownership of this recipe. This seemed to be in large part because of the antique tortilla press we used to prepare them. She was very proud of the press and its history, and appeared to have an almost spiritual connection to its personal and cultural significance.

Salsa Xnipec

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 50's
Occupation: Chef/Cooking Instructor
Residence: Cancun, Mexico
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/17
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Background:

I met my informant at a cooking class in Cancun, Mexico. She and her husband hold these classes in their home just outside of the Hotel Zone. They’re both in their mid-50’s and have lived in Cancun with their three children for close to twenty-five years. My informant was born and raised in Mexico City, where she spent the majority of her youth mastering regional cuisines from throughout Mexico. She ultimately attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Though she is well versed in world cuisine, she considers herself an expert in traditional Mexican cooking, as the majority of her recipes have been handed down through both her family and her husband’s.

The classes she holds are for no more than twelve people and lasts roughly six hours. She gives a short lecture on different culinary regions of Mexico and then begins an interactive cooking lesson where the group prepares twelve separate recipes. The lesson was too long to record the entirety of the performance, but I recorded some of her specific introductions and explanations of several dishes. She also gave each participant a copy of the recipes, almost all of which were passed down through the generations. The informant transcribed them and included her own specific instructions.

Performance:

“This is a salsa from the Yucatan peninsula, right here (gestures to map of Mexico)…right near Cancun…the word ‘xnipec’ comes from the Mayan language…in English it means like ‘dog nose’ (laughter)…but it’s good…very spicy so you just do a little drop like this…(takes a spoon and makes small drops on the back of her hand)…and you taste first…don’t do too much…we’ll have to take you off the floor (laughter).”

Recipe:

2 limes

5 roasted habaneros

1 garlic clove roasted

2 tablespoons of chopped red or white onion

Salt

Pinch of oregano

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Squeeze the juice of several limes (Yucatan lemons, which are more like limes) into a small bowl if you don’t find them lemons are ok. In a mortar add garlic roasted Habanero pepper, ground the ingredients and add spoons of chopped onion, oregano, juice of limes and olive oil and season. Mix all this and set aside you can make the salsa a day in advance and this will make the salsa milder.

Thoughts:

This dish was prepared with a stone mortar and pestle; the habaneros had been roasted on the flame of a gas stovetop shortly before we began the lesson. Claudia spoke at length about the different kinds of peppers used in Mexican cuisine, but interesting she did not appear to enjoy the habanero flavor herself.

Creole Recipe

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 61
Occupation: Small Business Owner
Residence: Orange, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/14/15
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

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Photo of gumbo recipe that my dad, Brad Perrin, emailed to himself.

 

When asking my dad if he had any family recipes or ritualistic traditions in his family, he brought my sister and I together and revealed this gumbo recipe to us and wanted to make sure we had copies of it so we could teach our kids about it someday. My dad first learned this recipe from his mother when he was in his late teens. He didn’t have any female siblings, so it was his responsibility to ensure this family gumbo recipe survived. His mother was an amazing cook and loved cooking Southern dishes for their family, with this gumbo dish being made on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. My dad was excited to learn this recipe from his mom when he was in his late teens because it meant him being fully connected with his roots and being able to pass on the recipe which has been in my family for supposedly at least five generations. He said it was supposedly created by my great great grandma in Algiers, Louisiana.

I loved knowing that I am now responsible for carrying on the tradition, as my family doesn’t have many cultural traditions. It makes me feel closer to my ancestors and also allows me to learn more about Southern culture which formed the basis of my family’s identity for many generations.