Armenian Food: Ultimate Guide to Armenian Cuisine, Recipes and Dishes
What are the key characteristics of Armenian food and is it any good? Is it true that Armenians only eat meat? What should travellers eat while visiting Armenia? Read on to learn everything about food in Armenia and the ingredients that make this nation’s cuisine delicious.
One of the main things that Armenia is known for is its national cuisine. Filled with many delicious and hearty foods, the Armenian cuisine is certainly not something that you are bound to forget any time soon. Armenian food is very similar to foods eaten by people in the Mediterranean region, and it also shares similarities with Middle Eastern and Slavic cuisine. The majority of Armenian food consists of meat, wheat, and vegetables. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to Armenian cuisine and great foods you should try when you visit Armenia.
Introduction to Armenian Cuisine
If you’ve ever been to Armenia or you know any Armenians, you might have noticed that they enjoy eating meat, meat, and more meat. Most Armenian dishes consist of different meats, including beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. They also particularly love fish. Vegetables, particularly eggplants and tomatoes, also play a huge role in many Armenian dishes. You will never sit at an Armenian table that does not have lavash, which is a traditional Armenian flatbread. In addition, many meals are made with an abundance of herbs, legumes, and wheat.
Armenians also love dessert. Plenty of their desserts consist of nuts and fruits, some of the most popular being walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, apricots, and pomegranates. You may also notice fruits and nuts being included in regular meals, too.
Must-Try Armenian Dishes
While just about anything you’ll eat in Armenia is guaranteed to be fantastic, there are some traditional Armenian foods that you must make it a point to try while there.
Khorovats: No Armenian party or event is complete without khorovats. This translates to “barbecue,” so khorovats is essentially meat cooked on a grill. Armenians typically use pork to make this dish. They grill pork or lamb on skewers. While you certainly can eat khorovats on your own, it typically is made to celebrate something, such as a wedding or baptism, or when friends gather.
Tolma: Many cultures also have their own version of tolma, which is stuffed grape or cabbage leaves. It includes minced meat, rice, and herbs wrapped up in cabbage or grape leaves.
Pasuts Tolma: If you were looking for vegan Armenian food, then pasus tolma is perfect for you. This is tolma consisting of rice, beans, and other legumes wrapped up in cabbage leaves. Armenians like to make this during the Christmas holiday or Lent, when they are not allowed to eat meat according to the Christian faith.
Harissa: Harissa is the national dish of Armenia. It is a chicken porridge made with wheat that is typically made in the colder months. This dish is also made on Musa Ler Day, which is a commemoration of the resistance organized by Armenians during the Armenian Genocide.
Manti: Manti is the Armenian version of dumplings that are made with beef or lamb. Many Armenians like to eat this with yogurt or tomato sauce on top.
Khash: Khash is the classic dish to eat during the cold winter months. It is a prestigious meal typically eaten in the early morning. This soup consists of a lot of garlic and cow’s feet and is perfect when eaten with friends.
Ghapama: This is also a classic dish eaten in the fall. It’s a pumpkin stuffed with rice, dried fruit, nuts, and other tasty specialties. Songs have been written about this popular food and it’s guaranteed to keep you full.
Kufta (especially Ishli Kufta): There are two main types of kufta eaten in Armenia: Ejmiatsin kufta and Ishli kufta. Ishli kufta is more popular outside of Armenia, but you will certainly be able to find it while you’re in the country, too. Ejmiatsin kufta is made of a special pureed meat, whereas Ishli kufta is meat wrapped in bulgur.
Quick Armenian Food Recipes to Try at Home
Most Armenian dishes are anything but fast and easy to make, but you certainly will be able to try to make some at home.
The best and most typically Armenian dish consists of food you already have at home: lavash, cheese, and greens, especially parsley and cilantro. You can add tomatoes and cucumbers, too. This is a favorite of many Armenians in the summer, and it is typically referred to as ‘brtuch’ by Armenians, which translates to ‘sandwich.’ And when the season is right, Armenians tend to add watermelon to this, too.
Lahmajoun (or Msashot): This is a dish that’s popular in Armenia and the Middle East. In Armenian, it is referred to as ‘msashot.’ Dubbed “Armenian pizza,” it’s not all that difficult to make. You will need tomatoes, onions, parsley, green pepper, tomato paste, garlic, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, ground beef, and tortillas or lavash. Combine these ingredients, then spread the mixture on the tortilla or lavash. Bake it in the oven for around 10 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grilled eggplant salad: This is easy to make if you’re also making barbecue meat. But if you want a vegan or vegetarian option, you can try this recipe, which is typically served with barbecue in the summer. You will simply need to grill eggplants, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. Peel the skin off of them and cut them up. You can add onions and any herbs you want, including parsley, basil, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
Tan: Tan is not a food, but a popular drink. Armenians like to drink it in the summer, but you can try it at any time of the year. All you need is yogurt, water, and salt for taste. Some Armenians also like to cut up cucumbers. Add water to yogurt to the point where it’s a watery mixture, but make sure that the yogurt still has a strong taste. Then you can add salt or cucumbers and mix very well so all the ingredients are blended.
Traditional Armenian Food Restaurants to Visit in Yerevan
If you’re not a cook, you might be wondering just where you can try some of these tasty dishes when you visit Armenia. Here is a list of some of our favorite traditional restaurants in Yerevan.
Sherep Restaurant: Sherep is a favorite of many locals and tourists because of how close it is to Republic Square. Located on Amiryan street, this restaurant is unique due to the fact that it has an open kitchen, so you will be able to see how the chefs prepare your food. You can try a wide variety of Armenian, European, and Middle Eastern food here.
Gata Tavern: The Gata Tavern, also known as Gata Pandok, is on Tumanyan street and is known for its traditional Armenian atmosphere. Here, you will be able to try a wide variety of appetizers, salads, and well-known meals such as Tjvjik, Tolma, Ishli kufta, Ghapama, Khorovats, and more.
Anoush Restaurant: This stunning restaurant is located on Amiryan street near Republic Square. It’s known for its tasty Armenian cuisine, such as its tolma, khorovats, manti, apricot lamb, and other traditional dishes.
Lavash Restaurant: Located on Tumanyan street, this restaurant is known for its homemade lavash and foods provided directly by villagers, who either grow the vegetables in their greenhouses or who provide milk, yogurt, and cheese from their cows.
Tavern Yerevan: Tavern Yerevan, also known as Pandok Yerevan, has several branches throughout the city that you can visit. It’s perfect for events or for simple meals. You will eat under a live performance of traditional Armenian and Caucasian music.
Old Zangezur Tavern: This restaurant is located on Mashtots Avenue. Some of the most popular dishes that you can find here include lamb khashlama, beef shorva, sterlet, and pork loin. They have plenty of specials and you also have the opportunity to listen to live Armenian music.
Armenian Food Festivals
Another thing that you are sure to find in Armenia are food festivals. All the different aspects of Armenian food are celebrated during these festivals, and you will also have the opportunity to try some of your favorite dishes that were prepared right before your very eyes. Here are some of our favorite festivals that we definitely recommend you check out during your visit to Armenia.
Yerevan Wine Days: This is definitely an event that you should make it a point to visit if you’re in Armenia. It takes place in May and you will be able to try many homemade wines and cheeses produced by different vendors. You can also check out the wines provided by Armenian restaurants as part of specials organized at this time.
Tolma Festival: While tolma is a popular dish throughout the region, Armenians have a special love for it. This festival takes place in a different part of Armenia every year. It also takes place in May and you will be able to try out many varieties of the special dish.
Areni Wine Festival: This is also one of the most popular festivals in Armenia. Located in the Areni village of the Vayots Dzor region, this festival is symbolic because some of the oldest wineries in the world were found here. You will be able to try out different wines and cheeses and watch professional performances of Armenian song and dance. This takes place in October.
Gata Festival: The festival takes place in September in the Vayots Dzor region. Gata is a favorite dessert of many. You will be able to try plenty of varieties of gata at the festival, including the largest gata in the world.
Khorovats Festival: The Khorovats Festival, also referred to as the Barbecue Festival, is also a beloved event for many Armenians. Of course, there is nothing like eating homemade barbecue in Armenia. It takes place in Akhtala, which is in northern Armenia and is known for being the capital of barbecue. You will be able to try all different types of khorovats and see for yourself how it’s made.
Armenian Food Delivery
If you don’t want to leave your hotel or home, you can also try some of the modern delivery services in Armenia. Many of the restaurants we listed above have their own delivery and take-out services, but here are some of the most popular delivery websites in Armenia.
SAS: The SAS supermarket has its own delivery service. You may choose to get anything you need, but the site also has its own ready-made meals, including Tjvjik, lahmajuh, tabbouleh, and kebab.
Menu.am: This is easily the most popular delivery service in the country. You will be able to try out many different types of restaurants- it offers 400- but you can also try some authentic Armenian food brought right to your door. Some Armenian restaurants on the site include Tsirani, Tavern Caucasus, and Gastropolis.
Sovats.am: This is another site that you should try if you want Armenian food delivered to your door. While you can try all different types of foods, you will be able to also eat Armenian fast food- shawarma, gyros, and kebab- as well as from restaurants like Sasnatun, Maran Restaurant, and Laziz. Shipping from most restaurants costs 500 AMD.
Buy.am: Buy.am provides you with virtually everything you can think of, and it also comes with many options for Armenian food. Some of the most popular restaurants you can find on this site include the Tsirani Restaurant, Tondir Pandok, Tumanyan Shaurma, Mr. Gyros, and “Kovkasi Geruhi.”