Food & Drink
FOOD & DRINK
Fall in love at first sight with the delicious Armenian cuisine and check out our finger licking Armenian food and drinks you need to experience! Amongst all popular preparations, we have gathered a few mouthwatering dishes that will help you appreciate their preferences and choices regarding your food, while travelling in Armenia.
Armenians can hardly imagine their lives without meat and holiday tables are usually full of all kinds of meat dishes. Luckily, there are also lots of great meat-free choices in the Armenian cuisine and most of the restaurants have vegetarian and vegan friendly menus.
In response to the growing demand for halal food, many more Yerevan restaurants serving a variety of halal dishes – food that is permissible according to Islamic law, and non-alcoholic beverages. The Zion Café Restaurant is a family-owned and operated first kosher-style restaurant in Armenia, that serves the Jewish cuisine according to the rules of kashrut.
The first course is usually a selection of sliced Basturma and Sujukh (two varieties of a dried spicy beef). Each appetizer course includes a vegetable salad, the variety of Panir (Armenian cheese), the pickled vegetables, the whole tomatoes, cucumbers, green and red bell peppers.
Other dishes may include thoroughly delicious Aveluk (a wild mountain sorrel, which is dried into long braids, and then prepared by steaming or boiling) and various types of eggplant (fried or first roasted on fire, then peeled and mixed with garlic, onions, herbs and spices, or sliced and folded over heaps of garlic, walnuts and herbs).
Ever present is a large plate of Kanachi (herbs and greens), that include fresh tarragon, scallions, parsley, celery, basil, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, thyme, dill and others.
Armenians love their bread. They might eat half a kilo each per day. If anything identifies the Armenian cuisine, it is the traditional form of bread, called Lavash (very large oblong thin bread made entirely by hand and baked in stone or clay ovens buried in the ground). To observe the process as done in the villages, is to see a thousand-year-old tradition without change.
The Lavash has made it into the UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage of Armenian culture. It’s not only the bread’s unique role in Armenian cuisine, but also the unusual technique for producing it coupled with the role Lavash plays in the community that has influenced the local culture.
There are a few Armenian specialty soups that you ought to try if you get the chance. The incredibly delicious soup is a Spas, a creamy, tart, filling soup, served warm in the winter and chilled during summer months (made from yogurt, hulled grains, greens and herbs).
Khash is another traditional soup, which is cooked by boiling bovine shanks for hours until the tendon falls off the bones and the water becomes a thick broth. It is served in a large bowl with dried pieces of lavash, garlic and homemade vodka.
Other soups include Russian Borsch (beet root soup with meat and vegetables, served with fresh sour cream), and the Kufta soup (a soup made with large balls of strained boiled meat and greens).
Meat dishes are divided between lamb, pork and beef. The most popular dish is a savory Khorovats, which is a barbecued or grilled meat (usually pork) that has been marinated. Khorovats also includes grilled eggplant, tomatoes, whole onions, green, red bell peppers and hot peppers.
Second in popularity is Kebab (uncased sausage-shaped patties from ground meat grilled on a skewer).
Khashlama is also a favorite for Armenian food lovers who enjoy natural, plain flavors. Khashlama is a boiled meat dish, generally beef, lamb or mutton, seasoned with herbs and vegetables, a stew, of sorts, in its most basic form.
Other specialties include Dolma and Kufta. Dolma is a must if you ever find yourself in Armenia. Dolma comes in two varieties: spiced meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves (served with yogurt mixed with grated fresh garlic) and the summer dolma, which is wrapped with cabbage leaves. Another variation is to stuff tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, apples and quince with spicy meat and rice, and cook over a slow oven with plums.
Kufta is specially prepared strained meat, which is boiled until tender in large balls, served with hot butter or oil.
Fish are usually broiled, grilled, steamed and cooked in soups. By far the most popular fish is steamed Ishkhan, the Lake Sevan trout, whose name stands for a “Prince”.
Ghapama, a very colorful and tasty festive dish created from pumpkin. A big pumpkin is cleaned from the flesh, and then it is filled with rice, dried apricots, raisins, nuts, butter and honey.
Traditional snacks are Pirojkis, baked or deep fried boat-shaped buns with a variety of fillings. The amazingly tasty and popular is a Lahmajoun, a round, thin piece of baked dough topped with minced meat and minced vegetables and herbs including onions, tomatoes and parsley.
The Adjarian khachapuris, in which the dough is formed into an open boat shape and the hot pie is topped with cheese, raw eggs and a pat of butter before serving, are also popular.
Zhingyalov hats is aKarabakh specialty snack (dough, dried cranberry, pomegranate molasses that go in the dough, and 7 different greens, which include spinach, cilantro, parsley, basil, scallions, dill and mint).
Experience the Armenian traditional desserts, such as Pakhlava (layers of thin pastry filled with honey and nuts) and Gata, a pastry or sweet bread, that can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes, stuffed with a sweet filling ‘khoriz’ (fluffy mixture of flour, butter, sugar and most commonly walnuts).
Sweet sujukh (not to be mistaken for the meat variety, for it is made from strings of shelled walnuts dipped in grape syrup until a thick and tender coat covers them). Sweet sujukh is a wonderful high energy snack that can be taken on hikes and daily excursions and eaten at will.
The dessert course, always includes fresh fruit (peaches, apricots, figs, grapes, apples, melons, etc.) which is peeled and sliced into quarters at the table.
Like a Greek or Turkish coffee, Armenian coffee is a demitasse of thick brew boiled and served with powdered grounds in individual copper or brass pots.
Tea in Armenia can be a delight, especially if it is herbal. Armenians will spend spring and summer collecting mountain herbs, drying them for teas. Name an herb, and it is available in tea form in Armenia!
Traditional soft drinks are Tarkhun (tarragon flavored soda), Tan (salty yogurt drink, still or carbonated) and a variety of mineral water, with popular brands like Bjni, Jermuk, Dilijan and Arzni.
The best local beers to try out are the Kilikia, Erebouni, Kotayk, Dargett, Ararat, Gyumri, Dilijan and Aleksandrapol.
Armenia produces a remarkable variety of grapes under soil and climate conditions perfect for fermenting excellent wines. The Areni Red Wine is particularly lauded and many other Armenian semi sweet or dessert wines are world-renowned. Also popular are sweet and semi sweet fruit wines made from pomegranates plums, cherries and apricots.
Of all Armenia’s alcoholic drinks, the Armenian brandy is truly one of the best brandies in the world. Even Winston Churchill himself was turned into Armenian brandy after Stalin introduced it to him at the Yalta Conference, after which the former British Prime Minister continued to have cases shipped to him until he died.
Traditional local vodkas, usually distilled from fruit are very popular: the strong and potent Honi aragh (Cornelian cherry vodka), Tsirani aragh (Apricot vodka) and the most common, the Tuti aragh (Mulberry vodka).
Phoenix Tour invites you to taste centuries of tradition in each of our many dishes and whether it’s your first try at Armenian cuisine or your hundredth, there will be always something to suit your palette!