The unique taste of the Armenian Highlands!
It is impossible to get to know Armenia and its culture without trying the national cuisine. Rich with diverse flavors and hundreds of culinary products, Armenian traditional cuisine will not leave hungry and unsatisfied even the most rigorous visitor during the tour in Armenia.
It is challenging to give a specific definition of Armenian cuisine and its culinary products depending on who answers the question. The fact is tightly connected with the complicated history of wars, genocides, and conflicts in Armenia. The location on the crossroads between East and West, and the unstoppable interference with Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern conquerors made the Armenian Cuisine subject to a constant change. While the appearance of the Armenian Diaspora spread all over the world.
Despite the number of challenges, Armenian cuisine is considered one of the oldest cuisines in whole Asia, and the oldest in the Caucasian region. It formed more than 2000 years ago in the Armenian Highlands – a fertile region that is unique and well-suited for wheat, lentils, fruits, and vegetables. While the well-developed stock raising gave rise to meat and dairy products. The archaeological findings all around Armenia, only add to the topic. For example, the excavations in Erebuni Fortress which dates back to 782 BC, have found traces of barleys, plums, lentils, grapes, and peas, which are still being used in the cuisine.
Worthy to mention, some of the 2000-year-old culinary recipes have been passed down from generation to generation without any major modifications. That is what makes Armenian cuisine so important and unique in the world.
Recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity, lavash is an inseparable part of Armenian culture. The thin flatbread mainly baked in tonir, is not just simply a bread. It carries religious and cultic significance in the life of Armenians. For example, the bread should be baked in the mornings, while the first lavash should have been given to the patient with the belief that lavash would heal him/her. Lavash is the queen of Armenian cuisine.
One of the most iconic and popular dishes of Armenian cuisine is nothing else than Dolma itself. Despite its popularity in neighboring states and Balkans, Central Asia, and The Levant, Dolma is considered an Armenian traditional dish whose preparations require a huge amount of patience and attention. The main ingredient of the dish is lamb or beef meat, which is wrapped either with cabbage or grape leaves, as well as vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants.
While talking about the meat, barbeque or Armenian said “khorovats” cannot be left aside. It can be made with various types of meat, but pork is the most common one. It is being marinated with garlic, onion, greens, salt, pepper, and other ingredients. The preparations of khorovats is a real festival for each Armenian household,
If khorovats is mainly eaten during the evening, then khash is the opposite. It’s an Armenian version of early breakfast and soup which is eaten only during the winter. The dish is made of cow’s hooves, head, and tripe, which should be boiled for more than 8 hours.
What about trying out Armenian endemic fishes, such as Sevan trout or as locals name “ishkhan” (a royal fish). The fish can be cooked in several ways, like boiling, stewing, and frying.
Harrissa – yet another iconic dish of Armenian cuisine, made of stewed chicken and cracked ground wheat. The popularity goes hand in hand with the darkest days of Armenian history – the Armenian genocide. During the battles for survival in 1915, Armenians of Musa Mountain continuously each day-cooked harissa for 53 days to live on and survive in the battle with the Turks. Each year on the third Sunday of September there is a special festival dedicated to the harissa.
While talking about Armenian dishes Zhingyalov Hats cannot be left aside. Coming from the regions of Artsakh and Syunik the dish presents a flatbed stuffed with more than 20 types of greens and herbs. During the war, Zhingyalov hats are a great source not to die of hunger. it is also considered one of the 5 must taste of Armenian fast food.
Dairy product lovers do not lose the chance to come to Armenia and try its sheer number of dairy products – like matsun. It’s a fermented product made from any kind of milk which is widely spread in Armenian culture. In case of mixing it with some water, you will get a refreshing drink of tan.
The stuffed pumpkin, Ghapama, is the Armenian version of the well-known Halloween pumpkin. The hollowed-out pumpkin is filled with boiled rice, and dried fruits, like apricots, plums, apples, and raisins. Later the dish is sweetened with honey and ground cinnamon and is most commonly served during Armenian Christmas.
Do you want to try more out, especially Armenian sweets? Then do not skip it. Gata and sudjukh are the must-tries in Armenian cuisine. Gata is a multi-layered dough layered with sugars and butter. While sudjukh is a grape juice with walnuts.
The list of Armenian traditional cuisine doesn’t just limit itself to these several dishes. The cuisine is just the pure reflection of the Armenian traditions and beliefs and it has as long a history as long Armenian exists. So, it is much better to try them out at least once, rather than hear them thousands of times. Yerevan boasts traditional Armenian restaurants where you can savor the authentic flavors of Armenian cuisine. Just a single bite and the forecasting love towards food is guaranteed.