Armenian cuisine includes the foods and cooking techniques of the Armenian people, the Armenian Diaspora and traditional Armenian foods and dishes. The cuisine reflects the history and geography where Armenians have lived as well as incorporating outside influences. The cuisine also reflects the traditional crops and animals grown and raised in areas populated by Armenians.
Armenian cuisine distinguishes itself from other regional cuisines in the following ways
- The flavor of the food relies on the quality and freshness of the ingredients rather than on spices.
- The extensive use of fruits and nuts in dishes. Of
- primary use are: dried apricots, fresh quince, fresh apples, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts
- The use of pickles and pickled vegetables in foods.
- The use of fresh herbs either as spices or as accompaniments.
- The extensive use of stuffed items.
In addition to grape leaves, Armenians also stuff cabbage leaves, Swiss chard leaves, eggplants, zucchini or squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, various meats (particularly organ meats), whole fish, apples, quince, and even cantaloupe.
Armenian cuisine uses spices sparingly. The primary spices used in Armenian cuisine are:
Salt,Garlic,Red pepper,,Mint,Dill,Parsley,Tarragon,Paprika,Cumin,Coriander,Sumac (the powdered dried berry of the Mediterranean sumac
bush),Cinnamon,Cloves, Rose water,Orange blossom water,Basil and bay leaves are used in certain dishes
Many regional recipes include additional local herbs whose use is almost completely forgotten today in the Diaspora; e.g., aveluk (wood sorrel),
Khorovats the Armenian word for barbecued or grilled meats ,the most representative dish of Armenian cuisine enjoyed in restaurants, family gatherings. A typical khorovats is chunks of meat grilled on a skewer (shashlik), although steaks or chops grilled without skewers may be also included. In Armenia itself, khorovats is often made with the bone still in the meat (as lamb or pork chops).
Gharsi khorovats is a slivers of grilled meat rolled up in lavash, similar to the Middle Eastern shawarma.
Dolma-The queen of Armenian cuisine
Minced lamb meat or beef is mixed with rice and wrapped into grape leaves (tpov tolma) or occasionally in cabbage leaves (kaghambi tolma ). This dish is condimented with coriander, dill, mint, pepper, cinnamon and melted butter. Sometimes chestnuts and peas are part of the mix. Yogurt with garlic is often used as a sauce. Eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, quince and apples are also stuffed with lamb meat or beef and also called dolma. Echmiadzin tolma utilizes eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, apples, and quinces. There are varying styles of how dolma is made. In Armenia, vine leaves are usually served with yogurt mixed with crushed garlic. To prepare the dish, the meat used in dolma is: pork, beef and a little lamb. Herbs such as basil, oregano, tarragon are used. When cooking dolma it is necessary to take the most delicate and young leaves. There is also a Pasuts dolma - lean dolma, a stuffing that includes lentils, red kidney beans, peas, wheat grits, fried onions, tomato paste. Usually the three vegetables are cooked at the same time in the same pan.
Khash is considered an Armenian masterpiece . Songs and poems have been written about this dish, which is made from cow’s feet and herbs made into a clear broth.
Tradition holds that khash can only be cooked by men, who spend the entire night cooking, and can be eaten only in the early morning in the dead of winter, where it served with heaps of fresh garlic and dried lavash.
The surface of Armenian lavash is slightly bubbly, with brown (roasted) color of swellings and palish color of the other surface. A special feature of Armenian lavash is the full absence of crumb in it. The dough for Armenian lavash is prepared by a straight dough method with using old dough leaven as a fermenter. In a warm form lavash is soft as a flapjack, but then it dries quickly, becoming crimp and hard.
Ghapama is a festive pilaf which even has its own song. A pumpkin filled with rice, dried apricots, nuts, raisins is put into «tonir» (a national stove) and cooked. Ghapama is mostly preferred on holidays, particularly on Easter and on this day the number of black raisins in it symbolizes the quantity of truly faithful people who will be saved on the Great Tribunal Day.
Like anywhere, the best food in Armenia is home cooking. No restaurant can begin to compete with the lavish attention and extraordinary dishes Armenians create in their kitchens. The table often groans under courses served at the same time, and it is considered an affront to refuse to taste everything, the cook often considering it a bad reflection on her culinary skills.
As a tourist, you will have limited opportunities to enjoy dinners at home, but if you are invited, by all means go! You’ll wonder what happened between the home hearth and restaurants forever thereafter .
Our travel agency offers a range of activities to all tourists who wish to discover the secrets of Armenian cuisine. We will advise restaurants and eating-houses, organize special excursions to wine and cognac cellars for you.