TOPIG (Armenian Lenten Chick Pea Kofta)
· 2 cups chick peas
· 6 cups cold water
· 2 small potatoes, boiled in jackets
· 1 1/2 tsp salt
· 1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
· 3 large onions; halved & sliced
· 2 tbs water
· 1/4 tsp allspice
· 1/2 tsp cumin
· 1/3 cup pine nuts
· 1/3 cup currants
· 3/4 cup tahini
· freshly ground black pepper
TO BOIL TOPIGS
You will need 4 pieces of unbleached calico or similar cloth about 50cm (20inches) square
· lemon wedges
· parsley sprigs
1. Soak chick peas in the cold water for 24 hours, in a cool place if weather is warm.
2. Remove the skins by taking a handful at a time and rubbing with the palms of both hands so that the chick peas actually rub against one another. Drop back into bowl and take up another lot. Skim off the floating skins as they accumulate. (you can just leave the skins on, if this sounds like too much trouble!) Drain well.
3. Pass the skinned chick peas through food grinder twice, using fine screen. Alternatively, place in food processor container in 2 lots and process to a paste.
4. Peel skin from boiled potatoes and mash finely with a fork. Combine with ground chick peas, add salt and a good grinding of white pepper. Blend thoroughly and keep aside.
5. Put sliced onions in a pan with the water, cover and steam over medium heat for 10 minutes, then remove cover and leave until moisture evaporates.
6. Turn into a bowl and cool.
7. Add allspice, cumin, pine nuts, and currants to the onion. Blend well, then mix in tahini, and salt and pepper to taste.
8. Take 4 pieces of unbleached calico or similar cloth, each about 50 cm (20 inches) square and scald in boiling water.
9. Cool a little, then wring out well. Open out a square of cloth on work surface and put a quarter of the chick pea paste in the centre.
10. Spread evenly with a spatula to a 20 cm (8 inch) square and place a quarter of the filling in the centre, spreading it a little. Bring each corner of the paste over the filling by lifting up corners of cloth. Paste should enclose filling in envelope fashion.
11. Smooth joins to seal well. Make a single tie with each pair of diagonally opposite corners of cloth, then tie a second time. Complete another 3 topigs in the same way.
12. Half fill a large pot with water, bring to the boil and add about 1 tablespoon salt. When briskly boiling, lower prepared topigs into pot and return to the boil.
13. Cover and boil steadily for 12-15 minutes or until topigs float and feel firm to the touch. Lift out immediately and place on a tray, draining off water in tray.
14. Untie and invert topigs onto platter. Leave until cool.
15. When ready to serve, dust lightly with cinnamon or paprika. Garnish platter with lemon wedges and parsley. To serve, cut each topig in half, then slice in thick pieces. lemon juice is added to individual taste. On days when oil is permitted, pour a little olive oil on them with the lemon juice.