Foooooood! Armenian cuisine
Remember what once we told you? If you’re a tourist to Armenia, you should do every possible thing to escape hearing later ironic phrases, such as “huh…and you really don’t know what khorovats is?!” We are here to tell you the story! A brief guide to the most tasty meals in Armenian cuisine.
Khorovats is not just a barbecue. It is a huge part of the nation’s culture (yes! and don’t be ironic about this!). Homemade khorovats supposes all day long gathering outside of the dusty city, drinking, socializing and of course enjoying the delicious meal. If the meal is cooked somewhere in the yards or on the roofs in Yerevan, it is common thing to share with neighbours.
The word khorovats means “grilled” in Armenian and comes from the verb khorovel which means to grill. Khorovats supposes grilling meat and vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes). The meat originally should be pork, but, nowadays, lamb, beef and even chicken are often grilled as well. Meat and vegetables are cooked over the hot coals from a hardwood fire.
The ready khorovats meat is wrapped in lavash (Armenian flatbread), which becomes so fragrant that is considered one of the tastiest pieces to be eaten during the meal.
In Autumn 2013, Armenian nationwide Khorovats festival was organized for the fourth time, you can find more photos here.
Another must-try dish is dolma. This is very traditional and typical meal for Armenians to be cooked and it takes a while to prepare it. Minced lamb meat or beef is mixed with rice and wrapped into grape leaves (of course, there are different spices and greens too, but we won’t tell you all secrets). Traditionally, yogurt with garlic is the sauce to go with dolma.
During summer season eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, quince and apples are also stuffed with lamb meat or beef and are called (summer) dolma. There is also an option for vegeteranians, which is called “pasuts dolma”. It supposes dolma, the stuffing of which includes lentils, red kidney beans, peas, wheat grits, fried onions. Usually, the three vegetables are cooked at the same time in the same pan. Armenians like holidays and celebrations, and they also celebrate annual Dolma Festival.
Going further and looking at soups in Armenian cuisine, one has to mention Khash. Tradition says that khash can only be cooked by men, who spend the entire night cooking, and can be eaten only in the early morning in cold weather.
The main ingredient in khash is cow’s feet that are cleaned, kept in cold water in order to get rid of bad smell, and boiled in water all night long, until the water has become a thick broth and the meat has separated from the bones. Dried lavash (Armenian bread) is often crumbled into the broth to add substance. As mentioned above, the meal mostly illustrates the tradition of socializing, and the scenario of Khash-eating supposes waking up very early in the mornings to start enjoying the meal which is always accompanied by vodka and funny conversations.
Finally, for the sweetest dessert make sure you try Armenian gata. It consists of flour, butter and sugar. In some cases a coin is placed inside the dough before gata is baked, and it is said that whoever is the lucky one to receive the piece with the coin is to be blessed with good fortune. Don’t miss a multimedia story which opens the secrets of making of this tasty dessert.
So…bari akhorzhak! (bon appetite!)