Armenian cooking and dishes are like a colorful plate: the smoking khorovats (Armenian barbecue), gently saturated with the smell of coals it’s been cooked on, tender cooked tolma (stuffed meat in vegetables), melting in your mouth… all of these is too good to be true. See some of the Armenian cuisine here.
Armenian cooking & dishes are to be among the ones that no one should ever miss his/her chance to enjoy. they are usually rich with meat but also there are other types of cooking and dishes as well. The combination of these dishes will help you “taste” the real Armenia!
Usually, articles about national cuisines start by stating that this is the place for real gourmet who like trying and experimenting with dishes of different nationalities. But if you are a person, who hates those lofty words and simply likes GOOD food, then this is a right country for you.
Here, in Armenia, you can not only have a glimpse at this wonderful and tasty cooking and dishes but also enjoy them immediately!
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #1: Armenian Tolma
Armenian dolma (tolma) is probably one of the most well known dishes, representing Armenian cuisine.
Basically, it is minced meat seasoned with chopped or minced onion, salt and pepper, greens (usually, dried coriander, parsley and dill) other spices, as well as a little uncooked rice. Then the meat mixture is rolled up in grape leaves prepared beforehand.
To prepare the leaves, Armenian housewives put them in boiling water for a few minutes, then take it out. The tolma rolls are then carefully placed in a bowl to cook on low fire. This tolma is usually served with some plain yogurt with minced garlic in it. And it becomes twice as delicious.
Eating tolma, especially one cooked by an Armenian, is like tasting the Armenian culinary culture.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #2: Stuffed Vegetables
The stuffed vegetables are a variation of the traditional Armenian grape leaf tolma. They are also called summer tolma, because the vegetables are seasonal.
It isn’t difficult to make stuffed vegetables, since the procedure is the same, except for one thing: instead of the grape leaves you will have to use eggplant, tomato, green pepper and cabbage leaves to put the filling in.
One tricky part is that cabbage leaves should be put in boiling salty water for about 5-10 minutes, to make them a little tender for you to be able to wrap them. The rest of the vegetables are taken raw, stuffed and then put on the stove to cook with some water to cover the stuffed vegetables.
Voila, the summer tolma is ready!
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #3: Khorovats (Armenian Barbecue)
Another super-star dish of Armenian cuisine is Khorovats (aka barbecue).
Now, many of you will wonder what is the difference between khorovats and barbeque? Here is the answer to your question: khorovats is cooked on coal, not on fire, and the coal gives a nice and appealing taste and smell to the meat.
Khorovats can be made from chicken, beef or even lamb. Some people even make it with fish. So, there is khorovats for every taste. The key for making delicious khorovats is adding spices (salt and pepper, minced onions and other spices to the taste) to the meat the night before cooking.
This khorovats is a must if you want to spend some time in the countryside with your friends. At least in Armenia, no countryside party goes without the wonderful khorovats-barbecue!
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #4: Kufta (or Kufteh)
Kufta is basically stuffed meatballs in the Armenian way. This dish is delicious and is relatively easy to make: there is just one technical part of shaping the meatballs that needs a bit of practice but does get better after each time you make the meatballs, so, everyone should be able to do it.
What goes in it, is the following: ground beef or lamb, bulgur and egg for the meatball and the same ground meat with some sauteed onions and seasonings for the filling.
You first need to cook the filling by sauteing the onions then adding the meat with all the seasonings. You also need to let it cook until ready, meanwhile combining the ground meat, bulgur and eggs and some olive oil to make the meatballs.
After everything is done and it seems easy, comes the tricky technical part where you have to shape the meatballs and leave an open spot to fill in the filling and then close it successfully, so that nothing comes apart or drips out the meatball. And that is basically it.
Kufta can be put in the freezer to cook later on, and you just boil some water put the meatballs in it and cook for about 20 minutes. Ready to serve!
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #5: Armenian Potatoes
This may sound strange, as what can be special about cooking potatoes? But wait… There is a special Armenian way of cooking them. So, here we go. All you need is an onion, several large peeled potatoes and some seasonings, including dried greens such as parsley and dill.
The chopped onions, potatoes and the seasoning are combined together and put in a preheated stove at 180 C. The dish will be ready in about 20-30 minutes.
This dish is incredibly easy to make and, basically, it takes no time for preparation but, at the same time, these Armenian style potatoes will definitely be your favorite party dish, as everyone will totally love it.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #6: Mushroom Pilaf (With Rye)
Rye pilaf is one of the favorite dishes in Armenia, as it is incredibly easy to make, plus this pilaf is very healthy. All you need is simply rye and some mushrooms.
First, you should fill in some water on the rye and put it on the stove to cook. You should be attentive, so that you don’t let the rye burn, and add some water until it is thoroughly cooked. Meanwhile, you saute the chopped onions in olive or vegetable oil, add the sliced mushrooms to it and cook on a medium fire.
As soon as the rye is ready, you just add it to the mushroom mix and saute it for a few more minutes. Here you go… the rye and mushroom pilaf is ready to be served.
By the way, basically, no large celebration goes without this pilaf because, as we have already mentioned above, this is a favorite dish of many Armenians!
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #7: Armenian Summer Salad
If you see this salad for the first time, you might think it is the same Greek salad. But, really, it is not.
The summer salad is an incredibly easy salad to make which is called summer because the ingredients are seasonal and the salad tastes the best in summer.
So, what you will need is: fresh potatoes, cucumber and fresh greens. You simply cut the potatoes and the cucumbers to your desired size and add the finely chopped greens (note: you can add either green onion or simple sliced onions to the salad, it tastes good with both of them).
All that is left to do is adding some olive or vegetable oil, salt and pepper, then mix it well together.
Here it is, the fresh Armenian summer salad, which you can make in some 5 minutes which is a great plus, if you have unexpected guests you want to impress.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #8: Zucchini cutlets
Cooking this dish might take a little while but if you have a large skillet that can fit several cutlets and cook them together, then the preparation time will definitely be shorter.
So, what goes into these cutlets, is: several zucchinis, a few carrots, an egg or two, some all-purpose flour, fresh greens (whatever you have at hand) and garlic.
To make the mixture for the cutlets, you need to grate the zucchinis, the carrots and some garlic together, add one egg and a 6-8 tablespoons of flour. Mix it all together well. Put the skillet on medium fire and pour vegetable oil on it to heat well.
Then, add one tablespoon of the zucchini mixture to the skillet, if it cooks and sticks together as a cutlet, then you’re fine to go on with the rest of the mixture.
Sometimes, the cutlet may not stick together and will come apart while cooking.In that case you only need to add more flour to reach the desired stickiness.
Add salt to the cutlets before serving (additional). Well, basically, these cutlets make a wonderful vegetarian dish and, also, they are easy to make, very tasty and pretty healthy.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #9: Pumpkin cutlets
These cutlets are almost the same as zucchini cutlets described above: they are made the same way, except for there is grated pumpkin instead of the grated zucchini. And that’s it, the rest is totally the same!
These two dishes can be served together during a party to make some outstanding variations of the ordinary meat cutlets and to simply surprise everyone.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #10: Armenian Eggplant Dip
This dip is a fabulous dish and a fantastic addition to the parties with friends who love having chips, or simply great food.
All you need to do is prick the eggplant with fork in several places, rub with olive oil and put it in the preheated oven on 200 C degrees. Cook it until the eggplant feels soft.
As soon as it is ready, you just scoop out the pulp and put it in a saucepan, add lemon juice and cook until the water evaporates. Meanwhile, you saute the onions in olive oil, add some flour to make a thick roux, then slowly add some milk, so that you have a thick sauce.
After this, mix the eggplant mixture slowly, put some salt and pepper, then refrigerate it. There you go! A nice sauce for the friends and family who will absolutely love it.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #11: Lavash (Flatbread)
Lavash is a traditional Armenian bread that every Armenian goes crazy about. Seriously, ou will never be able to find an Armenian who doesn’t like and wouldn’t recommend lavash.
Back in the day, women used to bake лavash in tonir (tonir is an underground clay “oven” that people used as a tool for cuisine, as well as a thermal treatment for the family).
Untill now, there are some houses in villages that have the tonir, which people gather around to have a talk, spend amazing time with neighbors and, most importantly, bake lavash. By the way, the above mentioned khorovats (barbecue) turns out especially delicious when cooked in tonir.
Now, let’s go back to our lavash. Cooking lavash is a whole ceremony, as there are several ladies who gather and divide the work they have to do: one of them rolls the dough, the other one opens it with her hands and puts on a special cushion sticks on the walls of tonir.
Nowadays, of course, there are electric tonirs which make the process easier but absolutely everyone agrees that the lavash cooked in tonir tastes much better then on electric tonir.
P.S. This bread has low calories and is perfect for people who want to lose some weight!
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #12: Khash
Khash is a very interesting dish with a lot of interesting stories behind it.
Back in the days, when lower class people couldn’t afford eating dishes rich people ate (for example, barbecue of the cow meat they had just butchered), they were given the leftovers of the cow ”meat” (actually, there was no meat left on the bones near the area of cow knees) which the poor would cook twice and eat. This is how Armenian kash was born!
Now what is khash?
Khash is basically the broth of the knees and hoof of the cow, usually cooked in water for quite a long time. Most of the times, the cooking proces might even take you a full day.
It is served with some garlic sauce (which is the same broth with minced garlic in it), dry lavash and salt. This is all you need to enjoy kash but it is not accepted in Armenia to eat kash alone. You have to have at least one friend or preferably your whole extended family with you. 🙂
If you eat it without the garlic sauce, it may be dangerous as the levels of cholesterol are pretty high in it but the garlic cuts it down and makes it very safe and even very healthy (they say khash strengthens the bones).
Oh, and one more thing, you cannot eat kash during the months that don’t have the letter “R” in their name, i.e. May, June, July and August. The rest of the months are fine!
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #13: Spas
Spas is a plain yogurt soup that Armenian housewifes love cooking.
This soup doesn’t take long to cook but it has a tricky part, as soon as you add cold water to the yoghurt and sour cream mix, you have to stir the whole thing consistently, otherwise it will “get cut” as Armenians call it, and there will be small pieces of the yogurt floating around in the soup.
It is edible, of course, but some people just don’t like it that way, instead they prefer smooth soup: pure white and with delicious taste.
There is also wheat in the soup half cooked beforehand (why half cooked, because it will cook fully with the rest of the soup). The cook usually adds either fresh or dried greens at the end, just before turning the fire off.
And here it is, the delicious spas! It is also thought to be good for sick people and those who have fever as spas immediately makes the sick feel relieved.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #14: Lahmajun (the Armenian pizza)
This dish is definitely a must-try for people who love pizza but don’t want all the fattening ingredients of the pizza.
Lahmajun is a flatbread and a ground meat topping on it. That’s it. Nothing else that would make you gain extra kilograms.
Lahmajun is considered to be fast food in Armenia, as it doesn’t take long time to make it. Also, lahmajun is very convenient to eat when you are in a hurry.
So, make sure you try it when you are in Armenia.
Armenian Cooking & Dishes #15: Bread and Cheese
Bread and cheese or hats-panir is another most famous fast food in Armenia which does not require any cooking tools and special ingredients, as every home in Armenia has bread (either lavash or regular bread) and salty cheese.
There is nothing else you need to make it. Hats-panir (bread and cheese) takes no time to make it, it is delicious and nourishing. Probably, that is the main reason why a lot of people make it if they have no time for lunch, sometimes even breakfast or dinner.
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