How to cook Dagestan’s superfood: The ‘urbech’ nut paste (RECIPE)

‘Urbech’ is the vegan version of a tasty, hearty and healthy toast spread.

‘Urbech’ is the vegan version of a tasty, hearty and healthy toast spread.

Yulia Mulino
For centuries the people in the Caucasian region of Dagestan in Russia’s south have known about the healing properties of flax seeds and nuts. In fact, they make a paste from them. Let’s try this vegan delicacy!

In Dagestan, the word urbech means “mashed flax seeds”. These seeds have long been the main ingredient for this delicious and nutritious paste. Nowadays, however, you can use almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pumpkin and other seeds. Apart from linseed urbech, the most popular is made from apricot seeds. In local Dagestani stores all sorts of types of urbech are offered, and it's not uncommon for flavors to be mixed.

Often urbech is mixed with butter and honey before serving. The paste from the apricot seed is served with the traditional Dagestan porridge made from apricot seeds. 

Why it’s healthy

Since ancient times, Dagestani highlanders have taken urbech with them on long hikes since the paste doesn’t take up much space and gives a sense of satiety for days. Urbech was also a medicine. Flax seeds have tonic and restorative properties; they contain antioxidants, fiber, and gluten. It helps with oncology, digestion, and cleanses the blood vessels. Nuts give energy and saturate the body with vitamins and minerals.

How it’s made

The tradition of production has not changed since the 17th century. Because of its growing popularity, manual labor has been replaced by machines, but all the stages such as soaking, crushing, drying and grinding still remain. 

During mass production urbech is made in a liquid form and into a viscous paste. The seeds and nuts are ground between stone millstones, releasing an oily paste.

Can I make urbech at home?

It’s rather challenging to make liquid urbech at home, but it’s possible.

I chose white flax because of its milder flavor; as well as almonds and apricot seeds in order to be more faithful to the authentic taste. I dried and milled each of the ingredients separately, because they start releasing oil differently. 

It's important to remember that only raw flax seeds retain a lot of their nutritious properties. Before grinding the nuts, they can be dried a little, but not fried. At home, it is better to prepare urbech in small quantities to preserve the flavor. 

The amount of ingredients for urbech in the recipe below is selected according to my preferred taste. I hope you’ll also enjoy it!

Ingredients for 250 g:

  • Flaxseed (white as desired) - 60 g
  • Almonds - 130 g
  • Apricot seeds - 15 g
  • Honey - 2-3 tbsp.Salt - 1/5 tsp
  • Butter - 25-50 g


1. Grind the flaxseed in a coffee grinder or blender until you get a powder. After a while, the powder will collect on the sides - scrape it off and continue to grind. To get a liquid, oily mass, you need many more seeds and to grind for a long time in a high-powered blender. I got a fine, buttery powder.

2. I extracted the apricot pit from the fruit. Note: This takes some time, and apricots are not always in season. You can do without them, of course. But I recommend adding at least some for the tart flavor. 

3. Dry the pits and almonds in the oven (140°С, for 15 minutes).

4. Grind the almonds in a blender and add salt. Scrape from the sides and continue to grind until the mixture is creamy and shiny.

5. Add a spoonful of honey to the ground flax. The thinner the honey, the more elastic the mass. Mine was very steep, so the mixture came out thick.

6. Remove the seed from the apricot pit and crush in a blender.

7. Mix the almond paste, flaxseed mixture and apricot seed powder.

8. At this stage, you can put the paste in a ceramic or glass container with a lid and store in the refrigerator for no longer than a month.

9. Before using to get a more elastic consistency, melt the butter, let it cool a little. 

10. Add the honey and mix until smooth.

11. Combine the mixture with the nut and flax paste. You can take any amount of paste, butter and honey, depending on the consistency you want. I have 25 g of butter and a teaspoon for 80 g of paste.

12. Liquid urbech can be added to porridge, yogurt, and seed pudding. A creamier one can be spread on toast or an apple slice. Use the butter mixture immediately or over several days. Enjoy!

READ MORE: 10 delicious regional dishes you’ve probably never heard of

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