People visit Armenia for a variety of reasons – to explore its rich, cultural heritage and ancient religious sites, to get their adrenaline pumping with extreme adventure sports, and, of course, to indulge their appetite for delicious Armenian foods.
That’s what I’d like to talk to you about today – the magic of Armenian cuisine.
Armenian foods tell as much about the geography of the land as they do about the animals and vegetables that grow there. Its people share common beliefs, customs, traditions, physical characteristics, and one of the oldest cuisines in the world – a cuisine that relies heavily on meat, vegetables, and bread.
First-time visitors are often surprised by the amount of bread. Armenians never sit down to the table without it. The best known is lavash, a traditional flatbread baked in an underground clay oven known as a tonir.
But man cannot live on bread alone!
There are more delicious Armenian foods than even the hungriest of travelers could taste in a few days. Let me help narrow down the choices.
Top 5 Armenian Foods
Here are five must-taste Armenian foods that will leave you licking your fingers. Want to go deeper? Come on!
Made of only two ingredients, lamb and cracked wheat, harissa is a deceptively simple dish. When done right (with the appropriate amount of time, patience, and love) this traditional Armenian dish is the tastiest of comfort foods.
Traditionally, lamb neck or shoulder is simmered in a big pot for hours, until very tender, then removed from the bone. (Chicken is sometimes used instead of lamb.) Once the meat is done, cracked wheat is cooked in the reserved lamb stock, before being combined with the shredded meat.
The finished dish is served with melted butter and vegetable pickles.
One of Armenia’s defining dishes is Tolma (dolma). The name comes from an Urartian word “toli” which was once used for the leaves of grape. Its made of meat, rice, and various herbs.
First, the meat (as a rule beef, sometimes beef and pork mixture) is crushed, then rice is added, and the overall mixture is seasoned with different herbs.
Next, the mixture is wrapped in vegetable leaves. Historically, grape leaves were used but over the course of time, cabbage leaves were introduced. Currently, both versions are accepted in the national cuisine.
More regional cuisines of the South Causcaus.
There’s also a variation that’s only made during the summer. Fittingly enough, it’s called Summer Tolma. Instead of being wrapped in leaves, the meat is stuffed into eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers.
Tolma is such a big deal in Armenia, there’s even a Tolma Festival (known as Uduli) where people gather to taste different varieties, swap recipes, and compete in tolma cooking competitions.
One of the most famous Armenian foods is Spas – a yogurt soup served cold during hot weather, and hot during cold weather. Thickened with wheat berries, the soup is both warming and filling on a cold day – yet in the summer, when temperatures climb, the yogurt gives it a cool and refreshing quality.
Spas is made from everyday ingredients that Armenians usually have on hand – yogurt, sour cream, flour, egg, and wheatberries – then garnished with butter-fried onions and a little chopped coriander.
As previously mentioned, Armenians love their bread! So much so that instead of saying ‘let’s have breakfast, lunch, or dinner’, they say ‘let’s eat bread’. It’s a staple on every Armenian table.
Jengyalov hac is a type of Armenian flatbread stuffed with finely diced herbs and green vegetables like coriander, parsley, spinach, scallion, and dill. Some say that this healthy bread is made of more than 10 types of greens, others suggest 20 or more, some of which are grown only in Armenia.
So if you want authentic jengyalov hac, you’ll need to get yourself to Armenia!
No collection of Armenian foods would be complete without a traditional holiday dish.
Ghapama is a stuffed and cooked pumpkin dish often prepared during the Christmas season. The main ingredients are pumpkin, rice, dried fruits, and nuts
Armenians believe that the sweetest fruits are cultivated in this land because these fruits feel the sun.
Ghapama is usually served during the holidays, either as a main dish or a dessert. It’s so much a part of Armenian culture, there’s even a folk song about it! The song lyrics recommend the cook should prepare to host a crowd because no one can turn down the appetizing aroma of this traditional dish.
Armenians love to entertain, and to be entertained, so every small gathering tends to be celebrated with great fanfare.
Join us for a taste of these traditional Armenian foods and let the party begin!
Book unique places to stay in Armenia.
About the Author
Vera Mirzoyan is a travel blogger. She adores traveling and finds herself constantly writing about any magic under the sun. She believes it important to focuses not only on creating great content but also on optimizing this content. She knows trustworthy content that doesn’t reach its target audience doesn’t have any worth. You can connect with Vera on Facebook.
- How To Enjoy Traveling When You’re Afraid to Fly
- What It’s Like To Travel In the US Right Now
- Brazil’s National Cocktail, The Caipirinha
- Considerations for The New Culinary Traveler
- Recreating Your Favorite Foreign Dishes at Home