Ghavurma: How The Ancient Armenians Preserved Meat
Another must-have dish worth trying while on vacation in Armenia is beef ghavurma. Ghavurma is a very popular dish in Armenia, it is served as an appetizer, although many Armenians generally believe that ghavurma is breakfast.
The preliminary preparation of this dish is complex and multi-stage, therefore ghavurma has a completely unique taste. Ghavurma is prepared in the cold season, late autumn being the right time. During the slaughter season, in the fall (and in the absence of freezers), it was necessary to find the means in order to preserve the meat for a long time.
Ghavurma was prepared with the large amount of meat, which was well salted, boiled, fried, placed in huge clay pots, and poured with hot clarified butter or mutton fat. Ghavurma was kept in the cold, sometimes even buried in the ground – thus, the meat was excellently stored all winter!
What are the main features of this recipe: the beef is preliminarily prepared by salting it for 2-3 days, and only then it is cooked, and only then it is fried. This triple approach provides a very special flavor, color, aroma and texture to the meat.
The meat must necessarily be fresh, not frozen, but not necessarily tender – the harder meat will simply cook longer, but it will be no less tasty. The meat can be with a little fat, leaner, or completely lean.
The meat is not crushed, but is cooked in rather large pieces (as they usually are, say, in Borscht or Ragu). Then the meat is poured with both mutton tail fat and clarified butter. Ghavurma is stored in ordinary glass jars and in clay pots, or in any ceramic containers. Ghavurma can be stored in the refrigerator, but whoever has a cellar, or a basement – even better.
Ghavurma is most often served as an independent dish – before serving, the meat is picked out of clarified butter, cut into pieces and eaten wrapped in lavash bread, supplemented with pickles, herbs and onions. It can be also served as a side dish, for example, with fries, the light vegetable salad, or with rice pilaf.
To learn more about Armenia’s food & drink, please visit our ARMENIAN CUISINE page