Food in Armenia

Armenian cuisine includes the foods and cooking techniques of the Armenian people and traditional Armenian foods and dishes. The cuisine reflects the history and geography where Armenians have lived as well as sharing outside influences from European and Levantine cuisines. The cuisine also reflects the traditional crops and animals grown and raised in Armenian populated areas.

The preparation of meat, fish, and vegetable dishes in an Armenian kitchen often requires stuffing, frothing, and puréeing. Lamb, eggplant, and bread (lavash) are basic features of Armenian cuisine. Armenians traditionally preferred cracked wheat (bulgur) to maize and rice. The flavor of the food relies on the quality and freshness of the ingredients rather than on excessive use of spices.

Fresh herbs are used extensively, both in the food and as accompaniments. Dried herbs are used in the winter, when fresh herbs are not available. Wheat is the primary grain and is found in a variety of forms, such as: whole wheat, shelled wheat, bulgur (parboiled cracked wheat), semolina, farina, and flour. Historically, rice was used mostly in the cities and in certain rice-growing areas (e.g., Marash and the region around Yerevan). Legumes are used liberally, especially chick peas, lentils, white beans, and kidney beans. Nuts are used both for texture and to add nutrition to Lenten dishes. Of primary usage are not only walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, but also hazelnuts, pistachios (in Cilicia), and nuts from regional trees.

Fresh and dried fruit are used both as main ingredients and as sour agents. As main ingredients, the following fruit are used: apricots (fresh and dried), quince, melons, and others. As sour agents, the following fruits are used: sumac berries (in dried, powdered form), sour grapes, plums (either sour or dried), pomegranate, apricots, cherries (especially sour cherries), and lemons. In addition to grape leaves, cabbage leaves, chard, beet leaves, radish leaves, strawberry leaves, and others are also stuffed.

Armenian National Dishes

Khash

Khash, pacha, kalle-pache, kakaj šürpi or serûpê is a dish of boiled cow or sheep parts, which might include the head, feet, and stomach (tripe). It is a traditional dish in Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Mongolia, and Turkey.

Country Food - Armenia - Khash
Country Food – Armenia – Khash

Harissa

Harissa is traditionally served on Easter day, and is considered the national dish of Armenia. It is a thick porridge made from korkot (dried or roasted cracked wheat) and fat-rich meat, usually chicken or lamb. Herbs were substituted for meat in harissa when Armenian religious days required fasting and penance. The extremely long cooking process is an essential part of the harissa tradition. Like other ritual dishes, the time taken for preparation is part of its cherished value.

Harissa is known for helping the Armenians of Musa Ler (in Turkey) to survive during the resistance of 1915.

Country Food - Armenia - Harissa
Country Food – Armenia – Harissa

Dolma

Dolma is a family of stuffed dishes common in Mediterranean cuisine and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, India and the Middle East. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, Cabbage rolls, Pointed gourd and dishes of stuffed vine leaves are also very popular, and these are sometimes also called sarma in Middle East and dorma in India. Meat dolmas are generally served warm, often with tahini or avgolemono sauce. Dolmas prepared with olive oil and stuffed with rice are generally served cold with a garlic-yogurt sauce. Stuffed vegetables are also common in Greek cuisine, called gemista, as well as in Italian cuisine, where they are named ripieni (“stuffed”).

In 2017, dolma making in Azerbaijan was included into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. The tradition is present throughout the Republic of Azerbaijan, and is perceived as a central culinary practice in all of its regions.

Country Food - Armenia - Dolma
Country Food – Armenia – Dolma

Khorovats

Khorovats is a barbequed Armenian meat kebab. The meat may be marinated before grilling, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be made with lamb, pork, beef, chicken, or even veal. This is generally a dish reserved for “festive occasions”.

Country Food - Armenia - Khorovats
Country Food – Armenia – Khorovats

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