According to the expert of Armenian national cuisine-Sonia Tashchyan, the queen of Armenian traditional Zatik (Easter) table is the rice pilav with dried fruits. This tradition has been the part of each Armenian family throughout the history. The dish is served with fish, greens, dyed egg, sweet bread etc.
Easter is called “Zatik” in Armenian which means “to separate”. There have been many ceremonies since prehistoric times which were dedicated to the separation of the spring from the winter period. Before spring sow, the farmer conducted a set of rituals to please the gods; he grew malt and took it to the field to contribute to the element of soil and announce the beginning of the spring with the malt sprouts. The table was decorated with festive flowering tree and bunch of eggs.
Rice pilav has always been the main dish to be made. The rice, being a rare staple food, was only used in Armenian cuisine in holidays, and that was a precious seed worth contributing to the gods. What refers to dried fruits, they have been the recollections of the previous year’s fruit harvest, while the round bread Lavash under the dish symbolized the universe. In ancient times the national holidays were celebrated with the presence of the whole community; people gathered together and asked for the spring to come soon thus realizing the universal ideology of the holiday.
As the holiday will be celebrated on the 16th of April this year, besides the above pre-Christian tradition, Mrs. Sonia Tashchyan suggested the following recipe for Sweet Rice Pilav to cook for Zatik (Easter).
2 cups rice,
2 t/s butter,
1 cup different dried fruits, raisin, nuts,
½ Lavash bread, salt.
Cook the rice in the boiling salt water. When the rice comes to the surface, take it and rinse with cool water and strain.
Put butter under the boiler, then cover with the layers of Lavash bread, after which add the
semi boiled rice. Close the cover with towel and cook over a low fire approximately 30 min.
Cut the dried fruits and fry with ½ butter, add 1 cup of water and continue boiling.
Before serving, put Lavash pieces and dried fruit on the ready pilav.
Don’t forget to add love while cooking and smile while serving.