About Armenia

Come Home Again, to Armenia

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Cuisine

Armenia Cuisine

This page is for the culinary traveler; the dining enthusiast who believes that gastronomic pleasure can be a destination in itself. Armenia welcomes you to the table, and to the gustatory delights that await you here!

It is said that Armenians express their love in their kitchens, and anyone who has dined in Armenia will agree. Armenian food is more than sustenance; it is an art form, a menagerie of scents and tastes borrowed from East and West, blending fresh vegetables and fruits, meats, fish and dairy with mountain herbs to create a unique cuisine.

Closest perhaps to Mediterranean dishes (and there is still lively debate over who was the first to wrap succulent pieces of spice meat into grape leaves, calling it dolma), Armenian food is one of the healthiest you’ll eat.

Fresh

Most important in Armenian cuisine is its freshness. Armenia’s food is picked when ripe, not for delivery, and it is naturally grown, much of it organic. Harvested at the peak of season, Armenia’s fruits and vegetables are a riot of tastes and fragrances, sun-sweetened to perfection.

Naturally Armenian

Armenian staples are native rice and wheat that are still grown in the Ararat valley much as they were 12,000 years ago when first domesticated. The apricot also originated in Armenia, cultivated over 6000 years ago and exported to Rome around 100 BC. Other native varieties include the peach, almond, pomegranate and fig.

Libation

And the next time you sip a glass of wine or brandy, thank the first Armenian who discovered how to ferment Armenia’s sweet grape, creating the nectar of the gods. Xenophon wrote of an intoxicating drink that 5th century BC Armenians served his troops, and they have been fermenting fruits ever since, including some excellent types of fruit based vodka.

Armenian vintages are gaining recognition in the wine world, but Armenian Brandy has been famous for over 100 years. In fact, Armenian brandy is the only non-French variety to earn the right to call itself cognac, after a famous blind taste test at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900.

Armenian Delicacies

Appetizers include thin slices of spicy basterma, a cured meat akin to Italian proscuttio; sujuk, spicy sausages; a variety of pickled vegetables and fruits; salty and smoked cheeses (look for the Armenian bleu and camembert), fresh greens (dill, purple basil, green onion and parsley) and dips made from eggplant, chick peas, red bean pâté, garlic and yogurt.

Traditional Dishes

Other dishes include Armenian dolma (stuffed grape and cabbage leaves, peppers, aubergine and tomatoes); mouth-watering pieces of sizzling khorovats (Armenia’s own brand of barbecue), braised or boiled lamb, lamb and beef kebab, piping hot bowls of spas and kololak, meat kufta, chicken-based havi harissa, and of course Armenia’s incredible freshwater trout (ishkhan), the prince of dishes on any Armenian table.

All meals end with fresh fruit and what seems like mountains of desserts, the hosts feeling the table is not complete until it groans under the weight of all the evening’s culinary delights.

Desserts

Desserts include home made pies, cakes, honey-based pakhlava, and the quintessentially Armenian cold weather feast, ghapama, pumpkin stuffed with harvest fruits, eaten on a cold night at a table surrounded by friends; washed down with glasses of home made vodka, brandy and wine.

Vegetarian

Meats factor prominently, but many vegetarian dishes adorn the Armenian table including bozbash (vegetable stew), vegetable casseroles, lobi (Goris bean) dishes, rice and vegetable pilafs and a wide variety of soups and salads.


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Implementation of the BSSRC project in Armenia and development of the BSSRC web portal and mobile applications were co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) project. The contents of the web portal and mobile applications are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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