In one of our recent blogposts, we presented a few masterpieces of the Armenian cuisine which every traveler should taste during his/her trip to Armenia. Our readers greatly enjoyed the entry (the record-breaking number of views and visitors and positive comments comes to prove that), that’s why we decided to write about 5 more delicious dishes that every gourmet will savor in Armenia. So, here you go:
In fact, kiufta is part of a number of oriental cuisines such as Afghan, Arab, Jordanian, Kurdish, Lebanese etc. Naturally, each country transformed this dish adding local flavor and ingredients. Generally, kiufta is a meatball or meatloaf mixed with spices or onions.
However, Armenian kiufta is different from its “foreign fellows”. First of all, we should distinguish between Echmiadzin and Kyavar (Gavar) kiufta, local varieties of kiufta (named by respective Armenian towns). The latter is made of minced meat spiced with onions and rolled into balls before boiling in water and is served with butter. Chefs claim the main difference between the two types is that the meat used in Gavar kiufta is harder than that in Echmiadzin’s kiufta. But it’s up to you to make your final say: taste both kiuftas and see which one you relish more.
Ishli kiufta is another variety of kiufta, in fact, the Western Armenian “transformation” of the dish. Ishli kiufta was brought to Armenia by Syrian-Armenians but now is quite a popular dish among Eastern Armenians, especially during New Year celebrations. Besides the “core” meat, this kiufta also includes burghul (cracked wheat), cinnamon, different greens, and is served with sprinkled lemon juice.
Not a single traditional Armenian New Year’s table (which usually abounds in different local and oversees viands) can do without basturma. So, if you happen to be a guest in Armenia during the holiday (or generally in colder months), you will by all means be treated to this nutritious dish. Unlike other varieties of basturma (known as “pastirma” in former Ottoman empire countries’ cuisines), the Armenian one mostly uses beef as the “base”. The meat is salted, washed with water and dried for 10–15 days. Afterwards, the blood and salt are removed and the basturma is covered with chaman (cemen) – a paste consisting of crushed cumin, garlic and hot paprika- and then dried for a little more. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?
If you feel like something vegetarian for a change, ghapama can be your choice. This is an authentic piece of Armenian cuisine (especially popular in South Armenia, as Zangezur region is considered the home to this dish). Ghapama is basically a pumpkin dish stuffed with boiled rice and dried fruits (usually- almonds, apple, apricot, plums, prunes, raisins). After the stuffing, the pumpkin is baked, cut up and served. And, of course, you can taste your meal to the sounds of the old Armenian song- – Hey Jan Ghapama- praising the delicious taste and fragrance of Ghapama. Local food plus local culture- can there be a better experience for a keen traveler?
Artsakh cuisine makes part of the Armenian cuisine, however, has its special delicacies, and zhengyalov hats perhaps is the most popular one.
“Bread with zhengyal” is a mixture of up to 20 types of greens wrapped up in a thin layer of bread. Every foodie can find this local delicacy in almost all the restaurants, cafes and bistros in Artsakh and Armenia. So, if you’re traversing these lands, don’t forget to pamper your stomach with this healthy dish.
Are you a sweet tooth? We have a good news for you. Armenian cuisine is rich in yummy desserts, and alani is the one you must definitely try! Just imagine: dried peaches stuffed with walnuts and sugar. A mouth-watering experience, indeed.
Already tasted a few of the delicacies of the Armenian cuisine? Then feel free to share your impressions and enticing experiences on the comment section below!
Text: Sirvard Amatuni