With a history of more than 1800 years, Armenia has a rich culture, a wide range of traditions and of course many delicious traditional dishes. Since Armenians are a very hospitable country, they love to throw big parties, invite everyone and enjoy their time together even when there is no specific event to celebrate.
Here we give you some of the most famous and delicious Armenian traditional dishes and a little insight into their uniqueness. If you feel hungry while reading this article, you may want to grab a snack as all the delicacies described below will make you even hungrier.
Khorovats is actually a barbecue. In Armenia, it is usually the men who prepare the meat, delighting in chopping and skewering the pork, beef or chicken. No party without khorovats, always made with love and care.
Armenians like to eat grilled vegetables and potatoes with khorovats. So make sure to try this amazing and most famous dish when you visit Armenia.
This is another popular dish of meat and potatoes that Armenians like to make for various occasions. As a hot dish, it is welcome in cold weather. Khashlama is made with beef that has been cooked for so long that the meat falls off the bone. It is so tender, the meat just melts on your tongue. It’s something unreal.
While khorovats are eaten in all seasons, khash is a dish that should only be served when it is cold outside. Normally the “khash season”, as the locals call it, starts in October and lasts until the end of February.
This traditional meal is prepared with pork leg. It boils for a minimum of 12 hours, changing the water several times so that it is always clear. This will cook the pork perfectly. The dish is served with boiling water, to which salt and garlic have been added, and dried lavash (Armenian traditional flatbread) is served alongside.
The authentic way to eat khash is with your fingers. You take fresh lavash, grab a piece of khash and just enjoy the delicious bite. Homemade mulberry vodka goes very well with it. Armenians are known to celebrate the first khash of the season on the slopes of Mount Aragats, the highest peak in the country.
Khash, with a lot of garlic, a lot of alcohol, in the fresh air – once the bowl is finished you just want to sleep!
Harisa is made with cracked wheat called korkot. Chicken can be added to this porridge to make it tastier. It is cooked for a long time and constantly stirred to ensure that the meat does not stick to the pan.
Harisa is served with pickled vegetables, pickled cauliflower, carrot, green tomatoes, etc., and a spoonful of butter on top to give it a richer taste.
5. Zhengyalov Hats
Although Armenians like meat, they are not against a little vegetarian food. Zhengyalov hats are the perfect choice for vegans and vegetarians as they are different types of vegetables in a dough. The dish is specific to a particular region of Armenia, where the climate is perfect for growing different types of green vegetables.
About 12 different green vegetables go into this dish, and some of them only grow in Armenia. We chop and mix the greens, add some spices, put it on the dough, shape it like a boat and bake it. It’s really unique.
Tolma is one of the most talked-about dishes in Armenia. Neighboring countries have similar dishes and it is similar to the Greek stuffed grape leaves.
All Armenians love these traditionally stuffed grape leaves and every Armenian family has its own special recipe for the meat filling. Then there’s the summer tolma – stuffed tomatoes, aubergines, and peppers, all cooked together.
This unusual dish is unique to Armenia. Ghapama is a rice-filled pumpkin. Raisins, other dried fruits and nuts are added to cooked rice, which is stuffed into the pumpkin which is then put in the oven.
Armenians even have a special song for this dish: “Hey jan, Ghapama, Hamov, hotov, ghapama.” This basically means that everyone is excited to try ghapama. When it is served to the guests, a few spoonfuls of rice are added on top of a slice of pumpkin and honey is poured on it to make it even sweeter.
8. Fish Gata
Gata means pie in Armenian, but this dish is not a fish pie at all. I don’t know why this is called fish gata, but one thing I know for sure; the taste of this dish will stay with you for a very long time.
Armenia is known for its trout and Armenian trout is one of the tastiest freshwater fish in the world. The whole recipe is like a fried fish fillet, but the special taste of Armenian trout makes it really unique.
Another meat dish that Armenians love! Kyufta is made with beef. First you beat the meat with a mallet to make it soft like cotton candy (I know, not the best comparison…).
Once soft, add chopped onions, season with salt and pepper, roll into medium sized balls and toss into boiling water. Add butter when they are on your plate and enjoy the delicious taste.
10. Eggplant Rolls
Eggplant rolls are a very popular traditional dish in Armenia and can be made with various fillings. My mom always does tomato sauce or strained yogurt with cucumber and garlic. First, cook the aubergine slices, then add the filling and roll them up. Voila! The perfect lunch, ready in minutes.
Manti is another common dish in Armenia and its neighboring countries. It is similar to dumplings and is served with yogurt or tomato sauce. The dough is made with egg, flour, salt and water and the filling is beef, seasoned with onions, garlic and vegetables.
Place small amounts of filling on small dough squares, fold and bake in the oven. The end result is both beautiful and delicious.
12. Armenian Trout
We have already talked about the famous Armenian trout and the traditional visgata. Many Armenians also like to cook trout as is or with sauces in the oven. In the 1980s, Thursday was considered fishing day and almost every family cooked trout. That tradition is dying out, but Armenians still love trout and make it during holidays like Easter.
Spas, or tanapor, is a traditional soup served both hot and cold. The main ingredients are Armenian yogurt, matsun and wheat. To make the tastiest smooth and creamy spas, stir the yogurt and add the wheat, season with salt and pepper, add some greens, such as coriander, to taste, and enjoy with a piece of bread. In some regions, people use rice instead of wheat. This comforting soup is the perfect choice for cold weather.
Tatar boraki is an Armenian pasta often made by grandparents for dinner. You can buy boraki dough in stores, but it’s very simple to make: just mix flour, salt, egg, and water. After setting aside for about an hour, roll it out and cut it into rectangular shapes. Boil it, like pasta, in water, strain it, add the matsun sauce with minced garlic and enjoy the rich spicy taste of Tatar boraki.
Ghavurma is a preserved meat that has been part of Armenian cuisine since ancient times, when it was made in late autumn and eaten until spring. This jam is made with beef or lamb. The meat is carefully washed, cleaned of excess water and cooked for hours.
Once cooked perfectly, it is fried in the fat and stored in clay pots. This dish is perfect in winter, although it can be eaten hot or cold. It is quite time consuming to make, but the unique flavor is well worth it.
This traditional dish is common in the Caucasus. Armenians also consider it a traditional dish as it has been made for centuries. It is a delicious soup with lots of vegetables, so packed with vitamins. You cook together with chicken breast, chopped onions, bell pepper, green beans, while stirring until the chicken breast is fully cooked.
Add canned chickpeas, potatoes, paprika paste, and tomato sauce to the mix and stir for a few more minutes. Let cook until all ingredients are well cooked. After adding salt and pepper, the soup is ready to try! As Armenians say, “bari akhorzhak”, enjoy your meal!
17. Red Bean Soup
Armenians make this soup with dried beans. Boil the beans for a few hours until they are fully cooked. When they are almost ready, start preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Chop the onions and cook them with a little oil, add a tablespoon of flour and mix until it gets a dark hue. Add tomato paste, herbs, garlic to taste and stir everything together.
Add a small amount of the bean water to the mixture and stir until you get a thick consistency. Add the beans and some water and let it boil. You can also crush some of the beans to give it a thicker texture. Season. Many people also add walnuts to give it a richer flavor.
18. Rumex Soup
The next soup on our list is rumex soup. Not all regions of Armenia make it, but its unique taste makes it worth a try. It is also called avelook because it is made with dried avelook, which is placed in water for a few hours to soften. Meanwhile, bring a few cups of salted water to a boil, add the potatoes and bulgur and cook until tender.
When the avelook is soft, cut it into small pieces and add it to the boiling mixture. Add chopped cilantro to taste and enjoy the soup in cold weather. For a richer and more delicious taste, add a finely chopped garlic clove.
19. Rice with dried fruit and raisins
This traditional dish is made during Easter. Along with Armenian trout, the locals prepare rice with dried fruits and raisins, which makes the rice sweet. Some people eat it with honey and many add fried lavash. Although this dish is traditionally made once a year, it is considered a favorite meal by all Armenians.
Kerusous means “eat and be silent!” The ingredients of this traditional meal are beef, potatoes, green beans, peppers, tomatoes, chili peppers for spices, onion, peas and various vegetables; practically anything that comes to mind!
The preparation is very simple. Cut everything into equal sizes, fry in an oiled frying pan and add spices. The dominant flavors come from the beef and baked potatoes, but each ingredient gives the dish its unique flavor.
There are so many other Armenian traditional dishes that can be added to this list; it is endless. Armenia is known for its unique and delicious dishes, so it is worth trying some of them even if you are not in Armenia.
But trust me, the way Armenians make their traditional dishes is unreal. You can definitely feel the love that goes into the preparation and cooking of each meal. So, if you get the chance, experience a dinner with Armenians.