Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef)

"This is Armenian cured spiced beef. It is a wonderful, spicy beef jerky. Serve with Pita bread and Armenian string cheese. Heaven. You must serve this very thinly sliced as humanly possible. It is a rare delicacy."
photo by Mark Marcarian photo by Mark Marcarian
photo by Mark Marcarian
Ready In:
2 pounds


  • 1 slice beef (about 2 lbs.)
  • 14 cup bagged granulated salt
  • Chairnen mixture

  • 3 tablespoons chaimen
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 12 teaspoon red pepper (optional)
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoon black pepper
  • 12 tablespoon kimion (cumin)
  • 12 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 -4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup water


  • Select very tender cut of beef from rib part, about one and a half inch thick, any length you desire (approx. 8").
  • Insert heavy string through one end and make a loop.
  • Rub meat with salt and let stand in refrigerator for 3 days placing a heavy item on top and turn once a day.
  • Wash meat well with cold water and leave in clear water for one hour.
  • Then drain and press between towels to remove moisture.
  • Continue until meat is quite dry.
  • Hang in cool airy place to dry about two weeks.
  • Combine all above ingredients to make the Chairnen.
  • Add water a little at a time to make thick paste.
  • Soak meat in it for 2 weeks.
  • Hang in airy place for 2 more weeks.
  • May be used immediately, refrigerated, or frozen.
  • NOTE: A cheese cloth casing may be used to slip meat into before hanging.

Questions & Replies

  1. Do we have to cover the meat again at the final drying process if done in doors?


  1. Dear Mr. Marcarian,<br/>I believe you have forgotten a very important ingredient for the making of real good chaimen and that ingredient is the powdered fenugreek commonly known as helba necessary for the chaimen, without it, you cannot really make chaimen.<br/><br/>I love all the recipes you post and am looking forward for some more,<br/>have a nice day,<br/>Arlette A. Kalpakian
  2. Mark, you're giving away all our secrets! Best cut of beef is to use whole filet mignon. Wait until it's on's worth it. It makes the most tender and nearly fat free basterma. FANTASTIC recipe! manushag
  3. You have no idea how you have made my day! I was raised next to the Lazar's and Mrs. Mooshi, the mom in law, made this. They are all gone now and I have missed these wonderful flavors. When I move to Mexico in Sept. I will be making this! Tak (as we say in Swedish) Tony
  4. I can't wait to try this and make our Armenian ancestors proud!
  5. Hi Mark! Thanks for this recipe. I've always wondered how to make this. I was wondering is there a certain cut of meat that works best?


A professional actor from Philly, Mark is half Armenian and of the first generation born in this country. Growing up with his aunts (Sophie & Louise) who would make Armenian food he loved and loves even more to this day! During the Armenian Diaspora his moved to France. As a result of the family history and learning to cook the food, Mark's passion is Armenian. In addition he has adapted the Armenian to American ways of cooking and created a BBQ style with an Armenian flare.
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