Ava's 1st Birthday and Atamnahatik

So what's an atamnahatik (atamhatik, agrahadig)? 

It's an Armenian tradition, a celebration of the baby's first tooth. Career based objects are placed in front of the baby and legend has it, that whatever object he or she chooses first is what their profession will be. 

Prediction has it, that Ava will become a doctor!

As a history buff, I love the fact that this tradition continues from one generation to the next. Sometimes what you choose as a baby isn't what your profession turns out to be. I grabbed a compact (you know, the mirror/powder combo) and I'd say I'm far from knowing what to do with it. But perhaps it meant that I would be taking photos of beauty. 

No Armenian celebration is complete without a proper dinner, a toast or two, kids, family, music, dancing and amazing dresses.

iWitness Concert at Grand Park

The iWitness public art installation at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles, showcases larger-than-life portraits of Armenian Genocide survivors. These free-standing displays vary in height and are lit at night. 

I would recommend seeing the display both in the day and at night, and more than once. The second time I went, I realized how well placed these images were. No matter what direction you look, there are rows of survivors looking straight back at you. It's amazing, chilling. 

Last night, iWitness hosted a free, outdoor concert at Grand Park featuring musicians, Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities and Harout Pamboukjian -- A night full of good music, great company, under the stars, with City Hall in front of you and Armenian Genocide survivors behind you. 

The project is a collaboration by artists Ara Oshagan, Levon Parian and designer Vahagn Thomasian.  

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Variations of stuffed grape leaves can be found throughout the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean areas, and of course, Armenia. This recipe comes to my family from centuries of grandmothers and mothers teaching their daughters and daughter in-laws. You would commonly see this dish on the dining table, especially at formal dinners. 

It's inexpensive, healthy and vegan. The only portion that takes up your time is when you're wrapping the leaves - why not call on your friends and family to help out?


The Recipe 

Serves 8

  • 1.5 cups olive oil
  • 2 finely diced yellow onions
  • 1.5 cups of Calrose rice (not long grained rice)
  • 4 table spoons tomato paste
  • 4 table spoons of red pepper paste (can be found in Armenian or Middle Eastern markets)
  • 4 table spoons of pomegranate molasses (I recommend Sadaf brand from Lebanon)
  • 1 table spoon salt
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (product of Aleppo)
  • ¼ tsp of sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Bunch of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Jar of grape leaves (product of Fresno or Armenia)

The Directions

  • In large pot, sauté diced onions in olive oil
  • Add rice and stir together
  • Add tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, salt, and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine
  • Check for taste
  • Add lemon juice
  • Over medium-low heat, cook for 15 mins, stirring every few mins
  • Turn off the heat and add chopped parsley and stir to combine
  • Let it cool


  • Rinse grape leaves under cold water
  • Gently open the leaf  placing shiny portion face down
  • Remove small stem
  • Add tea spoon of filling
  • Fold the tail in first, then the sides and gently roll secure
  • Line unrolled grape leaves at the bottom of a pot until fully covered
  • Gently place the wrapped grape leaves into the pot tightly next to each other
  • Add thinly slices of lemon on top and add another layer of unwrapped grape leaves
  • Add a plate on top, and atop the plate, add a weight to weigh down the plate
  • Slowly pour in room temperature water to the pot until it barely reaches the surface
  • Cook for 10 mins on medium-low heat
  • Taste and if  you prefer more tang, squeeze juice of one more lemon
  • Cook for another 10 mins

This dish is normally served as an appetizer, and is great at room temperate or cold.