Armenian traditional cuisine is one of the most impressive and admirable things that visitors can ever experience in Armenia.
The idea of traditional cuisine is more than the idea of ”get stomach full”. It is the integral part of the Armenian tradition, culture and the people itself.
Armenian cuisine is considered to be one of the oldest in Transcaucasia. Along with its great history, of course, the geographical territory of historical Armenia in its turn has greatly affected on the development of Armenian traditional cuisine at the same time combining the ideas of the old and the new.
As a result Armenians today proudly carry the rich and valuable knowledge about our traditional cuisine which you may undoubtedly experience in the best traditional restaurants of Armenia. It is enriched with nice nuances to meet both the taste of the visitors to Armenia and their expectations to please with our great achievements.
”Tonir” played an essential role in historical Armenia and was an integral part of every Armenian family. However, the tradition of using ”tonir” is carried nowadays in Armenian cuisine. However, here comes out the secrets of delicious traditional food in Armenia.
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Typical Armenian dishes and sweets
While visiting Armenia, one cannot but experience the extraordinary taste of traditional dishes and sweets.
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Harisa which originally means ”hareq sa”, that is for ”mix it” in English, is one of the most accepted dishes in traditional cuisine.
For the preparations of this special dish Armenian women used to have the whole night ahead to mix wheat and mutton in butter seasoned with salt unless they are cracked perfectly to get a porridge-like substance. Nowadays most Armenian families replace mutton with chicken meat which also gives the dish a very special taste.
Ghapama is a mouthwatering delicacy in Armenian cuisine. It is made in pumpkin wholly stuffed with boiled rice, dried fruits such as almond; apricot; raisins; apple, walnuts, cinnamon and honey.
Ghapama is traditionally cooked in tonirs.
Khash is the best to have during cold season. It is made of cow’s feet which are boiled in water until it becomes a jelly-like mass seasoned with salt. Khash is usually served early in the mornings with vodka, garlic and dried lavash (flat bread) and various greens.
Dolma is the pearl on traditional table. In Armenia dolma is made with grape or cabbage leaves and vegetables, the latter is usually called ”summer dolma”. That is made of eggplants, pepper, tomatoes stuffed with meat, rice, greens mixed with butter and seasoned with black and red pepper, salt.
Pasuts dolma or fast day dolma is another Armenian food, which is made of seven different grains- beans, lentils, cracked wheat, peas, rice and dried fruits: .
Dolma is called “pasuts” because the Christian New Year features the start of fasting days, which end on Easter day. However, seven grains are meant to symbolize God’s divine number which is associated with Divine perfection and completion.
Matsun is thick butter milk that is very popular in Armenia.
Armenian soup called ‘spas’ is the favorite of many of us. It is made of wheat cereals, or rice and matsun mixed with water, flour, salt and egg. Spas can be served hot with a small slice of butter and greens for decoration.
The name of “spas” originates from a Russian word which stands for “to save”. According to a story, a woman made this soup to save a poisoned soldier.
Fish is an inseparable part of Armenian cuisine. Sweet waters of Armenian lakes and rivers that are rich in different species of fish- most know among them is ishkhan or trout from Lake Sevan give an extravagant taste to various dishes either boiled or barbequed.
Lavash is a unique bread made of flour, water and salt traditionally baked in tonir. Thus, this is surely one of the reasons Armenian lavash has a special taste.
Lavash is considered to be the only bread kept for a long time. Even when it gets dry, one may drench it with some water and cover for some 10 minutes, and it again becomes soft and ready for use.
In 2014, “The preparation, meaning and the appearance of this traditional bread “lavash” as an expression of culture in Armenia” was enrolled in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Gata is an Armenian pastry or sweet bread that may differ from region to region in Armenia. Gata mainly contains “khoriz” that is made of flour, butter and sugar mixed with nuts or walnuts.
Pakhlava is a delicious honey cookie with a thick nut stuffing.
Sujukh is another loved dessert in Armenia. It is made from grape or apricot juice which is used for making syrup called doshab.
Doshab is later turned into thick flour kissel with addition of clove, cinnamon and other spices. A string of walnuts is dipped into the boiling mixture to be dried and stored for winter.
Simply dried fruits or stuffed with raisins, nuts and many other ingredients are the most favorite for both Armenians and foreigners.