When I was selecting countries this year, I mapped out all the countries we have "visited" on our cooking adventure in previous years and tried to find some that were in places we haven't explored as much but still had food that I thought my kids might eat.  I cross check with the Olympic website to make sure that all the countries are participating in the current Olympics.

Green dots are from previous Olympics and red dots are our planned countries this year

Up today was Armenia.  That's the red dot just above Iran.  Armenia has 32 athletes competing in Rio, many are boxers, martial artists, wrestlers, or gymnasts.

Our menu for the evening was Armenian lula kebabs, tabouleh, and matnakash - definitely NOT a gluten-free meal! 

The Verdict:
These recipes made plenty of food for 6-8 people!  The flavors of the tabouleh were just right and the kebabs were very tasty.  The bread was a good addition and was a hit with everyone.  Ebabe didn't like any of the other dishes and said they were too spicy.  The rest of us enjoyed the extra zest (under no circumstances would I consider it too spicy).

The Recipes:
In order to get everything done and ready at the same time, you need to start making the matnakash about 7 hours before you want to bake it to give it time to rise.

Matnakash (recipe from Heghineh) - We followed Heghineh's directions exactly so I don't really think I need to repeat her recipe here.  Please follow the link above for the recipe and videos on how to make it.  My middle schooler was the one who made the bread and she found it fun and therapeutic!

I was silly and told her to double the recipe and we ended up with 4 loaves of bread! The bread turned out nicely except the lines that Bug added that really define the bread as matnakash didn't bake in enough.

The final product (one loaf)
 While we were waiting on the dough to set and rise, we started chopping all the herbs and vegetables for the tabouleh.

Tabouleh (recipe from The Gutsy Gourmet).  Again, we followed the recipe almost exactly so I won't bother copying it here.  The only change I made was that I used a can of petite diced tomatoes rather than fresh, just as a convenient short cut.  We added finely chopped radishes, cucumber, and green pepper.  When shopping for bulgur, be advised that it may also be called burghul, particularly if you are shopping in the middle eastern aisle at the store.

The last thing we prepared was the lula kebabs (recipe from My Recipes.com).


3 pounds ground lamb or sirloin
1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 TBSP fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 egg
2 tsp ground cumin
1 TBSP paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 TBSP tomato paste
Juice of 1/2 lemon


Using your hands, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl just until combined. (overmixing may toughen the meat). Gently squeeze meat around 10-in. metal skewers to form log-shaped kebabs, each about 8 in. long. Put kebabs on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or tin foil. Cover sheet with plastic wrap and, if you have time, refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors meld and firm up meat.  Preheat your grill to high heat (somehwere around 450° to 550°) and grill kebabs, turning twice, until grill marks appear and meat feels firm, 8 minutes total.  

I purchased 1 lb of lamb (wowzer is it expensive here in the US) and 2 lbs of sirloin and divided the ingredients into thirds, putting one third of them in the lamb mixture and 2/3 in the sirloin mixture.  I didn't tell the kids which was which and asked them if they could taste any difference between the two.  While the texture of the kebab was slightly different, there really didn't seem to be much difference in taste.  The lamb mixture was a much thicker density when forming the kebabs, but didn't seem much more dense when fully cooked.  So, if you want lamb, use lamb, but if you don't want the expense or aren't sure if your family will eat it, use the sirloin!

Tomorrow we are off in different directions for dinner so there won't be an Olympic cooking recipe.  I'll be back on Thursday for another exciting foray into foreign cooking!
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