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Choreg Bread for Leo, a dying friend.

ph_kosel's picture

Choreg Bread for Leo, a dying friend.

My friend Leo died earlier this year.  He was pretty sick towards the end.

Leo loved Choreg, a sort of Armenian holiday bread his mother used to make.

To try to cheer him up a bit I found a recipe on the web and made up a loaf for him, the first time I'd ever made Choreg.  

The recipe I used was this one:

I found the nigella seeds and mahleb on Amazon although I actually used some mahleb I bought at a middle-eastern specialty market here in town.

I followed the recipe as closely as I could although I made one large braided loaf in stead of two smaller loaves as instructed.  Because of the high butter content or for other reasons the strands didn't adhere to each other the way I'm used to.

The bread rose well and I baked it in a steamed oven, getting a beautiful braided lof that was easier to pull apart than to slice. The mahleb gave the bread a delightful cherry-like aroma which filled the house when I baked the loaf, and later the car when I took it over to Leo's house.

Everyone who tried the bread said it was lovely.  The crust was particularly light and nice, and the crumb was soft and delectable.  I was not fond of nigella seeds when I used them before and had actually thrown out my stash, but the nigella I got from Amazon in the proportion the recipe called for added a nice crunch without overpowering.

Here are links to the ingredients I bought on Amazon: nigella seeds ( and mahleb ( .  They both seemed to be of good quality.

Leo was one of my professors when I studied engineering many years ago.  Over the years I've attended many parties in his home and he's been a frequent visitor in mine.  He was sorely missed at thanksgiving this year.



ph_kosel's picture

If I make choreg again  I'll make rolls or smaller loaves to maximize the delectable crust.

I did make a second loaf with three times the nigella seeds and the nigella seemed too overpowering.

Leo once told a story of getting rolls he recognized as choreg at a restaurant in Russia.  I guess it's not an entirely Armenian bread.

A recipe handed down from Leo's mother had essentially the same ingredients but omitted the nigella and mahleb, which I'm told were not always available.  Some recipes on the web omit the nigella seeds (which Leo was very fond of).  Even without these ingredients this would be a delightful bread.  Of the two "special" ingredients, I would sooner omit the nigella because of the delightful aroma of the mahleb.

ph_kosel's picture

Mahleb in large amounts may be somewhat dangerous because it has an effect similar to blood thinners such as warfarin and aspirin.  It should be used only in small amounts.  Nigella also supposedly has some medicinal effects, which may be over-rated; some consider it an all purpose cure-all.

nmygarden's picture

Provide common threads throughout our lives and form the structure of our communities. It was very thoughtful of you to help your friend recall memories from his younger days. And in doing so, you've now created memories for yourself.

Thank you for sharing with us. Happy Memories!


embth's picture

In Spring, I will try making Choreg, which will likely be thought of as "Leo's Easter bread" by folks that he never met.  He must have been a great man.   A friend and I will teach a class on Easter breads in the Spring.  Thank you for posting your story and the very helpful links.

ph_kosel's picture

Because link rot happens and my choreg recipe file also includes the recipe of Leo's mother, I'm including my file in this comment.


Armenian Easter Bread aka "Choreg"

By manushag on December 02, 2006 100.00%; 3 Reviews
Photo by jenjie

Prep Time: 20 minsTotal Time: 24 minsYield: 2-3 loaves

About This Recipe
"Very tasty and addicting sweet bread. Secret ingredients are mahleb, seeds which can be purchased in any Middle Eastern grocery, and nigella, black seeds.
Makes two large or three small loaves. Passive work time includes rising time and baking time."

1 cup milk, warmed
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon mahleb, ground seeds ( to taste)
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
6 cups all purpose flour (max) (768 grams)
1 egg yolk (for brushing)
sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional, for topping)
or coarsely chopped blanched almond, for topping (optional, for topping)

Dissolve yeast in warm milk in Kitchen Aide.

Add sugar and melted butter.

Beat eggs and add, along with salt, ground mahleb and nigella.

Add flour gradually, one cup at a time until dough comes away from sides of bowl.

Knead 10 minutes until shiny and no longer sticky.

Place dough in oiled bowl, turn to coat outside with oil and cover. Put in a warm place to rise until doubled.

Divide into two or three balls. Divide each ball into three and roll out with your hands to three long ropes.

Pinch all three ends together and braid loosely. Pinch ends and tuck under.

Cover and allow to rise again until doubled. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds or chopped blanced almonds.

Bake for 20 minutes in preheated 400 degree oven.

Serving Size: 1 (1513 g)
Servings Per Recipe: 1
Amount Per Serving% Daily ValueCalories 2596.8 Calories from Fat 98738%Amount Per Serving% Daily ValueTotal Fat 109.7g168%Saturated Fat
64.7g323%Cholesterol 623.1mg207%Sugars 51.3 gSodium 2734.7mg113%Total Carbohydrate 344.5g114%Dietary Fiber 11.3g45%Sugars 51.3 g205%Protein
© 2015 Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Grandma Dabaghian's Choreg Recipe
8 Cups flour
2 cups melted Crisco or butter
3/4 cake yeast
2 T sugar
2 T flour
1 Cup hot water
4 beaten eggs
salt to taste
1/2 cup sugar

Mix yeast with 2 T each of flour and sugar in
the hot water and let stand for 15 minutes.

Make a well in the flour in a mixing bowl. Add
the oil, then the eggs, then the yeast mixture.
Mix into a smooth dough.

This should be about enough for two braided

This recipe does not include mahleb or nigella
seeds. Leo really liked the nigella seeds. Most
Choreg recipes call for mahleb, only a few call
for nigella. Mahleb is made from ground cherry
pits and shouldn't be eaten in mass quantities by
people taking warfarin because it thins your
blood and increases coagulation time.

Sethrak's picture

That was very nice making Chorag fo Leo ~ God bless you ```




Sethrak's picture

Mahlab is an vegetable seed and I/we have eaten it all our lives, in Cheese, bread and many other things ```