This Armenian Bulgur Salad, called Itch or Eech, is so similar to tabbouleh, but with much less parsley and much less chopping. It’s such an easy, delicious fresh grain salad, filling enough for lunch or perfect as a side dish with dinner.
Fifty-five years ago, my Armenian Father came to the United States from Egypt to begin a new life. He’d traveled the world for business and could have gone anywhere, yet, on a trip to the States as a guest of U.S. Steel, he decided that this was where he wanted to raise his daughters. He chose the United States because of what it stood for. Promise, freedom, opportunity, liberty and community.
“I wondered what country would accept my two daughters…I love America because it is made up of every nationality.”
This move meant being apart from my Mother and two sisters, just eight and five years old, for seven months. When their documents were finally approved, my Mom, with her two little girls in tow, left her family, her friends, her home, everything she knew in Egypt, to begin that new life with my Dad.
On Christmas Eve night, my Mom and sisters landed in New York City. As they stepped out of the plane, for the first time ever, they felt snowflakes falling around them. My Mother says it was magical. They’d never seen snow before and stood with outstretched arms catching the flakes as they fell. My Father drove them to their new home, a poorly furnished tiny apartment that he had decorated with their first Christmas tree. I can only imagine the joy they must have felt, being reunited, yet the overwhelming fear, calling this foreign land their home.
My family thrived in the United States. They moved from their tiny apartment a few times, had a third daughter (me!), and settled happily in a tranquil, suburban area where my Dad owned local businesses. He took pleasure in being an active and contributing member of our community. He joined the American Business Club and spoke at his installation. At the following meeting, one of the board members spoke of my Father.
“…Our newest member…presented one of the finest talks this correspondent ever heard covering his experiences growing up and as a businessman in Egypt before his coming to the United States…Although his lips and mouth formed the words, everyone knew they came directly from the heart. There was no mistake on the point. Most of us, because of the rat race our business life demands, tend to forget and take for granted the enormous privileges and freedom we enjoy, so it is really refreshing to have a man like Loris visibly shake us with facts we know so well, but seldom realize because we take them for granted. Yes, Loris, the entire membership…is proud to welcome you as a member of our chapter and community. May God bless and keep you.”
Whenever I think about this story of my family coming to the United States, my Father’s pride of becoming a US citizen resonates within me. He reminded us daily of how fortunate we were to call the greatest country in the world our home. Whenever I’d say we were Armenian, my Dad would say, “First, you are American, then you are Armenian.” On the day he and my Mother and sisters held their hands up to become sworn citizens of the United States, he asked our local town officials if he could purchase the flags for the town as long as he lived there. He was thrilled that they agreed.
“You can’t imagine how happy this makes me and my family…The flag has a lot of meaning to me…My wife and I decided when we became citizens…to buy a flag for our community. I wanted to thank the United States for being such a wonderful country.”
Having only experienced life in America, we easily take our freedom for granted. My Father’s family, the survivors of his family, fled Armenia after the horrific Armenian Genocide of 1915 and made Cairo, Egypt their home. Although my Father had a successful business of his own in Cairo and the means to live well, he knew that there was much more that money could not buy. He knew that in the United States, he’d find freedom, democracy, community and home.
I’ve joined many in the food blogging community today in sharing our stories of immigration to this fine country of ours. A country made of diversity. A country made better by diversity. Along with our stories of making America our home, we are sharing recipes that our families brought to their new home. Recipes that, many of, have become a base from which American food is rooted.
This Armenian Bulgur Salad is something I could eat every single day. If you love tabbouleh, honestly, you may love this even more. There are so many variations on this salad, but I really love this one. This is my Mom’s version. I love the bits of tomato that are cooked a bit to create a deeper flavor. This recipe is super easy and packs up perfectly for lunches!
Worldwide, bloggers are using #immigrantfoodstories to share their own recipes and stories. I would love to hear your own immigrant food story or hear about your family’s favorite recipes.
Kimberley of The Year in Food
Liz of Floating Kitchen
Elizabeth of Brooklyn Supper
Nicole of Eat This Poem
Lily of Kale & Caramel
Karen of Honestly YUM
Emma of My Darling Lemon Thyme
Sydney of The Crepes of Wrath
Bella of Ful-Filled
Sara of Cake Over Steak
Aysegul of Foolproof Living
Alana of Fix Feast Flair
Jenny of Nourished Kitchen
Armenian Bulgur Salad (Itch or Eech)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 1 large green bell pepper finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes or 15 ounce can petit diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups fine bulgur
- juice of one large lemon
- 4 to 5 medium green onions sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, warm the olive oil then cook the onions and green pepper just until the onion begins to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for just one minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and cayenne and cook covered for 10 minutes. Add the water and bulgur. Stir to coat the bulgur. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat, stir and cover for an additional 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the lemon juice before refrigerating.
- Top with green onion, fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before serving.
Thank you for this tasty recipe! I make this often on the weekends and have it for lunch during the week. I could eat the whole thing myself! I have always loved tabbouleh but this is my new favorite.
What a sweet compliment, Jamie! Thank you! This makes such a great lunch. We actually just made some this weekend too and have some left over for lunch today!
Hi Caroline, Happy to have found you, I came looking for an Armenian Bulgar Salad recipe ~ I too had an Armenian Father & Mother ~ Tanks for making these recipe available, God bless you for being here for me/us “`
Richard, your sweet message put a huge smile on my face! I’m so glad you found your way here and really hope you love this recipe. Thank you for your kindness. :)
Thank you for this recipe. I lived in Turkey 50 years ago as an Air Force bride and we ate bulgar and I recently found some in the grocery store and used your recipe to make it I can’t wait till tomorrow to eat it It brought back so many memories of my 2 years I spend in Turkey
Thanks so much for sharing that interesting story, Bettie! I love that this brought back those memories for you. I hope you enjoyed the salad. It’s a favorite in our house.
I love this salad and make it during summer time.
I know this salad through the name Kisir : we do it in Turkey and we name it Kisir. We use sometimes pomegranate molass instead of lemon and we ad also tomato paste even if we use tomatoes.
I don’t know what itch means in armenian, but itch or iç in turkish means inside or stuffing, probably because this was used as a stuffing by a time. But it doesn’t give me the right to say Kisir is a turkish meal. It is Turkih, Armenian and also Irakian and Iranian and I may forget some countries like Syria ?
I don’t want to offend anybody, but I don’t know if this meal has a nationality because it is made in several countries like Irak and Iran too.
It’s like the feta cheese : the Greeks have asked the EU to protect the name feta ; and that’s why everybody thinks now that feta is only made in Greece. But that’s a mistake : cheeses like feta are made for centuries throughout all the Balkan countries until Iran.
Recipes can’t have frontiers, on the other side, they travel freely. And we’ve got to be honest about the origins of a meal, simply by writing where it is born and where it is made usually with mentioning the name of the whole countries and not simply with appropriating it.
Thank you for understanding what I mean.
Thanks for sharing that information, Emicoca. I think so many dishes are shared by various cultures with their own twists and variations…that’s what makes food so universal and brings us together, don’t you think? I’m going to try this with pomegranate molasses…that sounds delicious! xo
Hi!I’m really happy that I’ve found this article about Armenian bulgur salad, that has such a detailed description.I’m from Armenia and I am really impressed and thankful for this wonderful article. Armenia is very small and many people don’t even know where it is, so it is very important to us having this kind of articles. My friend has a blog about Armenia, that includes not only articles about Armenian cuisine but also dances, drinks, songs and many other things. If you are interested, you can find information here. http://bit.ly/2KVV5Mc
Thank you one more time, for this article and for your time!
Welcome, Karina! Glad you enjoyed this!
Caroline: What a wonderful story. This is the first time I have come across a recipe for itch. A local Armenian restaurant where I live had this on the menu as a side dish and it was my favorite. I tried finding a recipe everywhere and was not able to locate one. When the restaurant closed, the owner was kind enough to give me the recipe, which I adapted. I’m vegan and love to make this.
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
What a wonderful story Caroline. I’m sure you are very proud of your parents to leave everything they knew behind to search out a better life for you and your sisters. This salad sounds like something I would totally love. It looks so hearty and flavorful. I can’t wait to try it.
Thank you so much, Mary Ann. Yes, I really am proud of them. I hope you get a chance to try this…I know you’ll love it! xo
Carlos At Spoonabilities
Hello Caroline, Thank you fro sharing your beautiful story as an immigrant to this great nation. I’m also an immigrant but still with a short story. Your family story example of what we bring to this country, Your father is an honorable man. A while I was reading your story, I got goosebump. I’m from the Dominican Republic and I was lucky to find wonderful people here who helped me, and I was fortunate to find all my opportunities without having a hard time. You inspired me to share my story. Thank you so much!!
Thanks so much for your kind words, Carlos. I’m so glad to hear that you were welcomed to the US by kind people who helped you to succeed. Sounds like love is the answer, isn’t it?
Carrie @ poet in the pantry
I’m so glad you shared your family’s story. <3 (And I'm so glad you're here with us in the US now–I can't imagine having never met you!) This dish sounds delicious–I must make it soon!
I love you, dear friend. Thank you so much. xo
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
What a beautiful story of your family’s history. You must be so proud of your father and all his accomplishments. This salad looks beautiful!
Thank you so much, Karen. You are the sweetest. :)
I agree that many of us are members of immigrant families. In my own family my grandparents eagerly learned the language of this country and became assimilated into their new country while still retaining some of their own heritage. I think the real issue we face now, is that many coming to our country are not assimilating, but trying o be their own little outside country. I welcome new immigrants but want them to cherish our country and respect our rights as Americans and often as christians. It seems to me that in our effort to respect other customs, we are sometimes stepping on the rights of those who have already grown up here and lived here. I love our country and our diverse cultural differences, but let’s not try to become seperate countries within the whole.
Thank you for keeping politics out of your great story. I am American, born and raised, but nearly 20 years ago moved to Canada to marry my fabulous wife. True, that America is made up of many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. And that’s what makes America great- diversity.
But, your Dad hit the nail on the head. You are American first. Then Armenian (insert your own culture)
In Canada, it is different. Not better, just different. Here, you are your ethnic background first, then Canadian. I think that some immigrants forget that there is a difference. If you want to be American then you accept that as your way of life, and assimilate to the culture. If you want your culture first, perhaps America is not the right choice.
This is an emotionally charged email. If you choose not to include it on your website I understand.
Thank you to your father for coming to the USA, raising his family, and thank you for sticking around doing what you do. Everyone who contributes to this great nation is appreciative of your sacrifices.
I have to agree, John. The contributions of everyone and every culture is what makes our nation so great. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
Caroline, Your salad looks so good, can’t wait to try it. Though I have heard the story of your family so many times I loved seeing it on your blog to share with everyone. The picture of your family is wonderful. Love you!
You are adorable…love you! xo
Thank you for sharing your story, Caroline. What a meaningful post, really and truly. I know I would absolutely love this salad- I love the texture of bulgar and sounds like it has such a bright flavor! Love to you. xo
Thanks so much, Emily. I think you’ll love it, too!
Liz @ Floating Kitchen
Out of all the Armenian dishes I know/can make, I think it’s amazing that you and I made the same one for today. So glad we get to share our stories and be part of such an awesome community of people. I definitely need to try your version of Eetch. It’s a little different then my families, but I know I’m gonna love it! XOXO!
Isn’t it such a crazy coincidence, Liz? We are so connected! :)
I loved reading you & your family’s story…my hubby’s Greek family had to flee Northern Turkey due to that horrible time in history as well, so your story resonates with us.
I’m so sorry about your husband’s family, Bella. That period of time, in that area was harrowing.