Thanks to its very large Armenian Diaspora community, the Greater Los Angeles area home to a number of outstanding Armenian restaurants. One of those restaurants, chef Edward Khechemyan's Adana, was the subject of a recent article by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman, who loves the restaurant so much that he goes there during every trip he makes to Los Angeles.
On a recent visit, Bittman had a chance to watch Khechemyan -- whose family has Armenian, Russian and Iranian roots (and, based on the restaurant's name, some connection to Turkey, as well) -- in action. From his piece:
One of my trips to L.A. was actually a trip to Glendale, arranged so that I could cook with Khechemyan. I was immediately impressed with his facility and his ease and especially his grilling technique. In his kitchen, Khechemyan moves quickly, and within 30 minutes, we had done four kebabs. The marinades are simple (he uses a lot of mild dried red chili powder, the kind you can most easily buy in Korean markets), and the grilling technique is not difficult. But it’s unusual: he grills slowly (over briquettes fired with gas, by the way), not too close to the fire, he insists, until gorgeously browned. The fire is not superhot, but it’s even — gas is good for that — and he keeps the grill grate a good six inches above the fire.
It wasn’t all grilling. Two of the best dishes we cooked were Iranian (“Persian,” Khechemyan clarifies). The first was baghali polo, extra-long basmati rice boiled halfway then steamed with garlic powder (an ingredient I haven’t used in 20 years or so, but hey . . . ), fava or lima beans and an infield’s worth of fresh dill. The other, a salad, is something I’ve been making all summer; if I were you, I’d just start chopping.
The full article (plus recipes!) can be found here.