Do you want to know what Kim Kardashian used to eat when she was younger while listening to her father talking about their Armenian heritage? Yeah, in case you didn’t know, Kim Kardashian has an Armenian background, a country with a rich cultural past.
If you’re a Cognac amateur, you’ve probably already tasted their world-class liquors. However, Armenia doesn’t just produce some of the finest alcoholic beverages; it also offers a very diverse cuisine.
Indeed, Armenian dishes are clear proof of the way history, traditions, and culture of a region influences the nation’s food preferences. Armenian cuisine isn’t just a reflection of the past and geography of the country as Levantine and European cuisines profoundly influence it.
With over two thousand years of history, Armenian cuisine still sticks proudly to its heritage: even Armenia’s traditional crops and cattle regularly feature in their dishes.
So, let’s check out these 36 must-eat foods in Armenia.
Borsch is Armenia’s take on the traditional borscht.
It’s hot soup.
To make borsch, meat stock, vegetables like beetroots, green pepper are cooked with cilantro and parsley.
Basturma is a tasty dish using beef as the main ingredient.
The meat is seasoned with cumin, black pepper, garlic, and paprika, and cured for some time. It’s an appetizer served at get-togethers and on festive celebrations.
Basturma is the ideal dish to taste beef’s authentic flavor. If you want to change the taste, try it with cheese or lavash.
Ghapama is an innovative Lebanese stuffed pumpkin dish. Armenians celebrate Christmas passionately, and Ghapama is their main course dish during the festivities.
Ghapama is made by removing pumpkin guts and stuffing boiled rice and dried fruits in it. After stuffing, pumpkin is baked until it turns soft. Almonds, cornel, apple, plums, raisins, and dates are popular choices for stuffing.
To serve Ghapama, Armenians pour honey and sprinkle sugar or ground cinnamon over the baked pumpkin. The delightful sight of the cut pumpkin is enough to make you want to try it.
Any meat can be used to make Shampours. The idea is to marinate the meat and roast it over hot coals after putting it on skewers.
You’d be surprised to know that it’s cooked only on hot coals without flames.
Armenians love to use different parts of the animals in their cuisine. Khash is proof of that. It’s a dish of boiled sheep or cow head or feet, but, brain, stomach (tripe), and other cow parts can be used too to make Khash.
Khash isn’t an Armenian exclusivity.
Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Mongolia, and Turkey all have a version of Khash.
Khash is a soup made by cooking cow or sheep’s feet with garlic, salt, lemon juice, and vinegar.
Its taste is somewhat different from other soups you might’ve had. Experts say that it’s good for a hangover and prevents cold during winters.
Sometimes, Armenians serve it with pickles or lavash. Interestingly, there is a tradition of celebrating the preparation of Khash with alcohol.
When in Armenia, don’t forget to try mante.
Mante or manti are boat-shaped dumplings of minced beef or lamb. The meat is given the shape of dumplings and grilled to perfection.
To serve Mante, tomato sauce, garlic sprinkles, and yogurt are the best choices. It has a unique crunchy taste with an undertone of tanginess that’s given by the tomato sauce.
7. Dolma / Tolma
In Middle Eastern cuisines, there is a culture of cooking meat or vegetables in leaves. Dolma is yet another version of such dishes. It’s equally famous in Georgia, Turkey and elsewhere. So, you can expect to find delicious and healthy meals cooked in leaves everywhere around the Middle East.
The word Dolma is taken from Doli, which in ancient Urartian language means ‘a grape leaf.’ Armenians pronounce Dolma as Tolma, so you better not be confused. Dolma and Tolma both are the same dishes.
The dish involves wrapping vegetables like zucchini, tomato, and eggplant, or meat is in grape leaves. Mint, parsley, onion, coriander, red pepper, and rice are added to enhance the flavor of the dish. Grape leaves aren’t the only choice for dolma though. Typically, Armenians use grape leaves during winters and cabbage leaves during summers.
Good news is that dolma can become entirely vegan or non-vegetarian with a simple tweaking of ingredients. Dolma is a mandatory delicacy during the Lent festival. It gives you an exotic taste of fresh veggies with the crispiness of the leaf.
Give it a try, and I guarantee that just the first bite of dolma will render you speechless.
Gata is Armenia’s version of the English coffee cake. It’s a sweet bread or pastry that has many variations to offer. Typically, every Armenian town has a different version of gata. And, why wouldn’t it be so? The dish is very versatile indeed.
You’ll find gata in different shapes and sizes. Some prefer to decorate it generously while some leave the pastry undecorated. Today, ovens are used to bake it, but in the past, a tonir was used for this purpose.
Gata’s main ingredients include flour, baking soda, and nuts. Many other ingredients are added to make the bread more exotic.
Gata is also called kada or katah in Armenia. It’s your perfect pastry to drool over when visiting Armenia. Gata is an exciting dish, and no event or festival in the country is ever complete without serving gata.
Churchkela is a treat to the eyes and the taste buds. The mesmerizing sight of a string of dried walnuts is enough for you to want to taste it immediately. Dipping the walnuts into a combination of fruit juices makes churchkela so much more delicious.
You can call Churchkela the Armenian Snickers.
Baklava is a dessert that’s loved by the entire world not only Armenians. It’s an incredibly delicious dessert. You’ll find its taste nutty and sweet while its dramatic appearance is hard to ignore.
Baklava is a dish of rich, sweet layers of filo stuffed generously with nuts and baked until golden brown. Pouring melted butter and sweet syrup onto the browned pastry is the key to giving the dish its shine and sweetness. Eggs, butter, walnut, cinnamon, cardamom, and honey are the main ingredients of baklava.
Baklava is a staple dish of many cuisines including the Balkans, the Levant, and the Caucasus. It’s also part of cuisines in the Maghreb, and West & Central Asia.
11. Chulumbur apur
Chulumbur apur is s type of soup that’s very popular in Armenia. It’s a simple rice soup, but the choice of seasoning is what makes it super tasty.
A mix of milk and eggs is preferred to season chulumbur apur, and fried onions are sprinkled to garnish the dish.
If you’re a bread fan then Armenia is the perfect destination for you. The place has so many bread varieties that you’ll get confused which to try first.
Choereg is the Easter Bread of Armenia. It’s braided, sweet, and aromatic bread made with ground mahleb and fennel. White flour, eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and dry yeast are used to make Choereg dough. People sprinkle sesame seeds on the top of the bread too. It’s subtly sweet bread that almost every Armenian patisserie or restaurant serves during Easter.
13. Armenian Lavash
Let’s welcome another bread variety to the list of best Armenian foods. Lavash is a thin, soft unleavened flatbread. It’s probably the most popular bread in Armenia. Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan have their versions of Lavash too.
Traditionally, a tonir was used to bake it but modern ovens work just fine nowadays. Lavash is part of the cuisines of Western Asia, the Caucasus, and the areas close to the Caspian Sea.
14. Armenian Lule Kebab
Lule or losh kebab is made by grilling ground meat on a skewer. Usually, lamb’s breast or shoulder is preferred to make Lule Kebab.
Lule Kebab’s cooking process is relatively simple: meat is marinated with paprika, eggs, black pepper, mint leaves, tomato paste, and onions. Before serving, lule kebabs are garnished with parsley. Its surreal taste will surely blow your away right from the first bite.
Typically, lule kebabs are served with rice.
15. Cheese Borek
It’s a spicy pastry traditionally made during Christmas festivities.
Cheese Borek is made from unique spinach and beef dough layered with cheese.
It’s a light pastry with a crunchy and crispy taste.
Armenians like to make it during winters and serve it with beer or hot coffee.
It’s a dish of sautéed beef liver, lungs or heart, tomato paste, onion, salt, and pepper.
17. Chi Kofte (Çiğ köfte)
In Armenian language, Chi means “No” and chepouadz kufte means “not cooked kufte.”
Chi Kufte is a traditional dish from Cicilian Armenian culture and a must have on holidays and special occasions. You’ll find many different varieties of chi kufte in Armenia. For instance, some use more bulgur while some don’t. Similarly, some make it spicier while some prefer to use less pepper.
There are two main varieties of chi kufte though. It can be shaped like a meatball or flattened on a plate. Minced green onions and olive oil are popular options to serve chi kufte because Armenians don’t like eating it with bread.
18. Sini Kofta
Sini Kofta is an Armenian casserole in which bulgur and meat are layered together and baked in the oven.
Turkey or lamb meat can be used to prepare sini kofta. The koftas are shaped like a diamond and served with fresh salad and yogurt.
19. Armenian Harissa
Armenian Harissa originated in the Ararat plain. Harissa is a type of thick porridge. Its main ingredient is korkot, which is dried or roasted wheat. Korkot and meat (lamb or chicken) are cooked to get porridge-like consistency.
Harissa can be made with or without meat. So, if you want vegan harissa, go for the meatless variety. Legend has it that the great Armenian Saint Gregory the Illuminator used to feed Harissa to the poor.
Harissa is an important dish in Armenia. It’s a must have item during the month of fasting, festivals like Easter or other religious events. Its cooking process is quite long, and Armenians cherish every second of its cooking time. They revere this dish because for them it’s a part of their religious rituals. You’ve got to try Harissa on your trip to Armenia since it’s very delicious and healthy.
This dish is also called spahs, but Spas is the more commonly used term.
Spas is something one would want to try on a chilly winter night. It’s a rich, creamy tart filled with soup. You may also find it during summers. The difference is that in winters, spas is served hot while in summers it’s served cold.
21. Armenian Rice Pilaf
Long-grain rice simmered in chicken broth with toasted vermicelli.
Bozbash is one of the most popular meat soups you’ll find in Armenia. It’s a slightly sour meat soup made from fat lamb fillet, beans, fruits, peas, and potatoes.
23. Armenian Eech
Eech is a bulgur salad. It’s also known as Itch. Taste-wise, it’s similar to Tabbouleh, but Armenians don’t use too much parsley in their salads and veggies aren’t finely chopped.
To try the best of Armenian barbecues, go for Khorovats. Khorovats is widely available in almost every nook and corner of the country. It has a whole festival in its name, the annual Khorovats festival.
There won’t be any restaurant in Armenia that doesn’t serve Khorovats. It’s Armenian fast food that’s enjoyed at family gatherings and parties pretty commonly. You can find both boned and boneless versions of Khorovats in Armenia. It has a distinct smoky taste that’s different from the typical fast foods that your taste buds are familiar with. Your trip to Armenia would be incomplete without tasting this delicious barbecue.
25. Stuffed Peppers
In no other cuisine would you find so much diversity as in Armenia. Armenians surely know how to transform ordinary veggies into super delicious treats. The exotic stuffed peppers dish is worth trying. Ground meat, aromatic rice, and onion are stuffed into peppers and eaten hot with fresh cream. It’s a winner all the way be its appearance or the tempting taste.
26. Zhingyalov hats
What an unusual name for a stuffed flatbread!
Armenia is home to a variety of flavorful bread, and zhingyalov hats is one to look out for. This traditional dish belongs to the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians.
Zhingyalov hats offer a crazy mix of green veggie and diced herbs, and the result is a richly aromatic flatbread.
27. Sunki Apur
Sunki Apur is a mushroom with rice soup offering the Armenian exotic taste.
28. Armenian Garden Salad
Just like any cuisine around the world, Armenian cuisine also offers huge diversity in salads. Armenian garden salad isn’t your regular salad. It’s like a sandwich in which finely chopped veggies are heaped on Armenian pizza. People fold it like a sandwich to eat it. So, it’s a salad sandwich.
Basil, tomatoes, parsley, cucumber, and romaine are preferred choices for the salad. It’s seasoned with vinegar, salt, lemon juice, wine, and olive oil. Armenian Garden Salad tastes divine; it’s like a whole lot of freshness wrapped inside the sandwich.
29. Anushapur – Armenian Traditional Christmas Recipe
Anushapur is a mandatory part of the menu on Christmas or New Year’s Eve parties in Armenia.
30. Armenian Eggplant Casserole
Who doesn’t love casseroles? We all do, and it’d be hard for you to ignore this amazingly delicious casserole dish in Armenia. It’s an eggplant casserole that’s cooked and baked with onions, parsley, tomatoes, and basil. This dish is eaten with sour cream and is served either warm or cold.
31. Lahmacun – The Armenian pizza
Lahmacun is Armenia’s version of the Pizza and aptly called the Armenian pizza. It has a thin, round base prepared using tortilla flour. Minced beef or lamb meat is used to make lahmacun with minced onions and tomatoes.
For seasoning, cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, and parsley are sprinkled before baking lahmacun. There won’t be a single restaurant in Armenia where you won’t find Lahmacun, it’s that much popular.
Fasulya or fassoulia is a lamb and green beans stew made in the tomato broth.
Armenian Borani is a delicious dish composed of fried chicken with Matsun (a fermented dairy product that originated in the south of Russia) and aubergines.
Arganak is an Armenian chicken soup with meatballs.
Tabbouleh is a very popular salad around the Middle East.
In Armenia, they make it using burglar, onions, mint, and tomatoes. The veggies are seasoned with salt and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.
Legend has it that Arabs have been eating Tabbouleh since the medieval times.
36. Armenian Beverages
You must’ve heard about Armenian cognac already; it’s famous the world over. Quality wise, Armenia’s cognac is at par with the French and Italian wines and cognacs. The best Armenian cognac brands include Great Valley, Armenika, Ararat, and Mane.
There are six varieties of grapes in Armenia for wine. Given the ideal climatic conditions, Armenia produces excellent dessert and sherry wines. Artsakh, the Armenian vodka, is very famous worldwide. Berries and classic white mulberry are mixed together to give Artaskh its unique strong flavor.
Another interesting beverage is Mastun. It’s sour milk produced by fermenting the dairy product.
Coffee is also quite a common beverage in Armenia, but they have an interesting way to make it. Armenians make their coffee in a pot on either red-hot sand or live embers. Armenian coffee has a different taste than the rest of the world because it’s thick, dark, and served with ice water.