The Armenian Cuisine


Chi Kofta - Raw grounded meat with Burghul (cracked wheat)

Armenian cuisine includes the foods and cooking techniques of the Armenian people and the Armenian Diaspora. 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 raised in areas populated by Armenians.

Regional influences include the Mediterranean, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and to a certain extent also influences from the Balkans. Armenian cuisine and traditions in turn have influenced the culinary traditions of nearby countries and cities such as Aleppo. The preparation of meat, fish, and vegetable dishes in an Armenian kitchen requires stuffing, frothing, and pureeing. Lamb, eggplant, yoghurt, and bread (lavash) are basic features of Armenian cuisine. Armenians use cracked wheat (burghul) in preference to the maize and rice popular among its Caucasian neighbors (Georgia and Azerbaijan).

Armenian foods include small appetizers called mezze, grain and herb salads, phyllo pastries called boeregs, grilled meats and skewers, a large variety of soups, stews, flat breads such as lavash, and a thin crust pizza variant called lahmajoun.

Appetizers: Meals in Armenia often start with mezze, a spread of appetizers served for "the table". Lavash, extremely thin leavened wrap bread made from wheat flour, is the usual accompaniment for mezze.

  • Hummus – a chickpea based spread.

  • Chechil (tel banir) – braided and pickled string cheese, similar to Georgian sulguni.

  • Mutabbal – grilled eggplant chopped or mashed with spices and tahini to form a coarse paste, similar to the baba ghanoush of other cuisines.

  • Lahmajoun – a thin-crust pizza with a topping of ground meat.

  • Boraki – Armenian fried pelmeni, cylinder-shaped with a filling of fried minced meat; served garnished with yoghurt and chopped garlic.

  • Chee kufta (khema) – a chilled raw meat dish similar to steak tartar.

  • Basturma – a highly seasoned, air-dried raw beef, similar to pastrami.

  • Yershig – a spicy beef sausage (called sujuk in Turkey)

  • Kiufta – meaning meatball comes in many types, such as Hayastan kiufta, Kharpert kiufta (Porov kiufta), Ishli kiufta, etc.

  • Labneh – Strained dense yogurt made from sheep, cow, or goat milk; often served in mezze with olive oil and spices.

  • Matsoun – yogurt.

  • Tahn (ayran) – a sour milk drink prepared by diluting yogurt with cold water.
     

Salads:

  • Eetch -- bulgur salad, similar to the Middle Eastern tabouleh.

  • Tabouleh -- wheat and mint salad, found in the Armenian diaspora.

  • Fattoush -- pita bread salad, found in the Armenian diaspora.

 

Boeregs: Boeregs are savory pies made with phyllo pastry and stuffed with cheese (banirov boereg, from Armenian: banir for cheese) or spinach (similar to spanakopita in Greek cuisine). They are a popular snack and fast food, often served as appetizer. The Sou boereg (su boeregi, or water burek, in Turkish cuisine) is a lasagna-style dish with sheets of phyllo pastry briefly boiled in a large pan before being spread with fillings. Misov boereg is a bread roll (not phyllo pastry) stuffed with ground meat (similar to Russian pirozhki).

 

 

Grilled meats: Grilling (barbecue) is very popular in Armenia, and grilled meats are often the main course in restaurants and at family gatherings. Grilled meat is also eaten as fast food.

  • Khorovats (or khorovadz) – Armenian word for barbecued or grilled meats (the generic kebab in English), the most representative dish of Armenian cuisine enjoyed in restaurants, family gatherings, and as fast food. 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). Western Armenians outside Armenia generally cook the meat with bones taken out and call it by the Turkish name shish kebab. On the other hand, the word kebab in Armenia refers to uncased sausage-shaped patties from ground meat grilled on a skewer (called losh kebab or lule kebab by diasporan Armenians and Turks). In Armenia today, the most popular meat for khorovats (including losh kebab) is pork due to Soviet-era economic heritage. Armenians outside Armenia usually prefer lamb or beef depending on their background, and chicken is also popular.

  • Gharsi khorovats – slivers of grilled meat rolled up in lavash, similar to the Middle Eastern shawarma and the Turkish doner kebab; this "shashlik Ghars style" takes its name from the city of Kars (Armenian: Ghars) in eastern Turkey, close to the Armenian border.

Soups:

  • Spas, made from yogurt, hulled wheat and herbs (usually cilantro), and aveluk, made from lentils, walnuts, and wild mountain sorrel (which gives the soup its name). Kiufta soup is made with large balls of strained boiled meat (kiufta) and greens.

  • Khash, is considered an Armenian institution. Songs and poems have been written about this one dish, which is made from ham hocks 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.

  • T'ghit is a very special and old traditional food, made from t'tu lavash (fruit leather, thin roll-up sheets of sour plum puree), which are cut into small pieces and boiled in water. Fried onions are added and the mixture is cooked into a purée. Pieces of lavash bread are placed on top of the mixture, and it is eaten hot with fresh lavash used to scoop up the mixture by hand.

  • Karshm is a local soup made in the town of Vaik in the Shirak province. This is a walnut based soup with red and green beans, chick peas and spices, served garnished with red pepper and fresh garlic. Soups of Russian heritage include borscht, a beet root soup with meat and vegetables (served hot in Armenia, with fresh sour cream) and okroshka, a yogurt or kefir based soup with chopped cucumber, green onion, and garlic.

  • Arganak – chicken soup with small meatballs, garnished before serving with beaten egg yolks, lemon juice, and parsley.

  • Blghourapour – a sweet soup made of hulled wheat cooked in grape juice; served hot or cold.

  • Bozbash – a mutton or lamb soup that exists in several regional varieties with the addition of different vegetables and fruits.

  • Brndzapour – rice and potato soup, garnished with coriander.

  • Dzavarapour – hulled wheat, potatoes, tomato puree; egg yolks diluted with water are stirred into the soup before serving.

  • Flol – beef soup with coarsely chopped spinach leaves and cherry-sized dumplings (Armenian: flol) made from oatmeal or wheat flour.

  • Harissa – porridge of coarsely ground wheat with pieces of boned chicken.

  • Katnapour – a milk-based rice soup, sweetened with sugar.

  • Katnov – a milk-based rice soup with cinnamon and sugar.

  • Kololik – soup cooked from mutton bones with ground mutton dumplings, rice, and fresh tarragon garnish; a beaten egg is stirred into the soup before serving.

  • Krchik – soup made from sauerkraut, hulled wheat, potatoes, and tomato puree.

  • Mantapour – beef soup with manti; the manti are typically served with yogurt or sour cream (ttvaser), accompanied by clear soup.

  • Matsnaprtosh

  • Putuk – mutton cut into pieces, dried peas, potatoes, leeks, and tomato puree, cooked and served in individual crocks.

  • Sarnapour – pea soup with rice, beets and yogurt.

  • Snkapur – a mushroom soup.

  • Tarkhana – flour and yogurt soup.

  • Vospapour – lentil soup with dried fruits and ground walnuts.

Fish:

  • Ishkhan – Sevan trout (endangered species), served steamed, grilled on a skewer, or stuffed and baked in the oven
    Sig – a whitefish from Lake Sevan, native to northern Russian lakes (endangered species in Armenia)

  • Karmrakhayt (alabalagh) – a river trout, also produced in high-altitude artificial lakes (e.g., the Mantash Reservoir in Shirak province).

  • Kogak – an indigenous Lake Sevan fish of the carp family, also called Sevan khramulya (overfished)

Other main courses:

  • Fasulya (fassoulia) – a stew made with green beans, lamb and tomato broth or other ingredients.

  • Ghapama – pumpkin stew.

  • Kchuch – a casserole of mixed vegetables with pieces of meat or fish on top, baked and served in a clay pot.

  • Moussaka – baked dish consisting of spiced ground meat (usually lamb) between layers of eggplant slices.

  • Mujaddara – cooked lentils and rice.

  • Tjvjik – a dish of fried liver and kidneys with onions.

  • Satsivi - pieces of roast chicken in walnut sauce, taken from Georgian cuisine.

 


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