Armenian cuisine reflects the traditions and the history of ancient Armenia. It is considered one of the oldest cuisines in Asia and Caucasus. And, of course, the most attractive thing about Armenian cuisine is that the food is mainly organic.
Armenian National Dishes
The Armenian dishes are famous for their special taste and spicy flavors. The most popular dishes are made of meat. The much-loved Armenian dish is probably the barbecue. It is made from spiced pork, lamb, beef, or chicken meat and served with traditional Armenian “Lavash.”
Another traditional dish of Armenian cuisine is the famous “Tolma” or “Dolma”. We have more than 50 types of Tolma. Tolma is considered the second main dish of the Armenian cuisine. It is made with cabbage or grape leaves, rice, minced meat, and spices. The minced and spiced meat with rice is wrapped in the leaves and cooked in a small amount of water. You can also use vegetables (pepper, eggplant, tomato) instead of cabbage leaves.
Fish is widely used in Armenian cuisine, especially “Ishkhan” (trout), “Taraph” (sturgeon), and “Sig” (whitefish). There is also a Fish Festival organized annually during which various fish dishes are presented.
Khash is another popular traditional dish of Armenian cuisine. The name “Khash” comes from the Armenian word “khashel” which means “to boil.” We love “Khash,” in spite of its long cooking process. It’s primarily a men’s meal, who spend the entire night cooking. This dish is made of cow’s feet (trotters) and served with garlic, dry lavash, radish, and vodka. Armenians enjoy Khash in winter, mainly early in the morning. The dish is also called “Armenian Winter Soup”.
Every September, hundreds of people gather in village Musaler to cook another traditional Armenian dish “Harissa” made with cracked wheat and meat. The “Harissa” Festival is devoted to the memory of the inhabitants of a small Armenian village Musaler in the Western Armenia, who 40 days fought with the armed Turkish soldiers and were finally rescued by English and French warships.
At the Harissa Festival, the dish is cooked in a very large amount, then it is blessed by a priest and served to people.
There are also many traditional dishes made with herbs and vegetables. Among the most popular ones are the soups of “Aveluk,” the soup of stinging nettle, and many other soups and salads made with delicious and healthy plants vastly growing in the rich soil of Armenia.
Of course, we cannot but mention a fantastic Armenian dish “Ghapama,” which is made with pumpkin. It is prepared by removing the guts of the pumpkin and stuffing it with boiled rice and dried fruits. Commonly honey or sugar is poured on, and the pumpkin is then baked until it becomes soft.
Desserts of Armenian cuisine
Speaking of traditional Armenian sweet desserts, we, first of all, think about “Gata” and “Pakhlava.”
Gata is an Armenian pastry, which is also called sweet bread. There are many variations of gata in Armenia. Depending on the region or town, it is baked and decorated differently. They say that in the past Armenian grandmothers used to bake and decorate it with the help of a cross to protect the family from evil.
Unlike Gata, Pakhlava can be truly sweet. It is a sweet layered pastry with chopped walnuts, syrup, or honey, which tastes very rich. Pakhlava also has many varieties as it was loved and cooked both in Armenia and Diaspora.
Among other Armenian sweet desserts, we can mention “Sujukh” and the variety of dried fruits. Sujukh is made with nuts and syrups of different fruits. “Sujukh” and dried fruits are always served on New Year’s eve. By the way, New Year is celebrated for about a week and is a big national feast.