Traditional Armenian food – 45 Armenian dishes you must try now
Armenia may not be on every traveller’s list to visit and it should be one of those off-the-beaten-path traveller experiences it can’t be beaten. Armenia straddles the divide between Europe and Asia and Armenian food culture does the same combining influences and blending of both Oriental and Western civilizations over the course of centuries.
Traditional Armenian cuisine is deeply influenced by Mediterranean and Eastern European culinary traditions. Western Armenian cuisine is very similar to Lebanese, Greek and Turkish food. Here you will find everything from Dolmas to hummus. The most common spices in Armenian cuisine are black pepper, cumin, sumac, basil, cinnamon, and summer savory.
Armenia lies just south of the Caucasus Mountains and is bordered by Georgia and Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran. Armenia was the first country to officially adopt Christianity and all throughout this gorgeous country you will find some of the world’s oldest churches and monasteries.
Talking about the food of Armenia I have to mention that Armenia is also one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world. Located on the fertile valleys of Mount Ararat where some of the finest grapes are grown the wines of Armenia are superb.
Some of the most famous Armenians around the world include the glorious Cher, the Kardashians, Garry Kasparov and the musical treasure System of a Down.
Armenian cuisine is rich in vegetables, grains and seasonings. The staple flatbread – lavash is known worldwide and has become a foodie favourite. Armenian traditional foods include lamb, eggplant, and bread (lavash). Armenians prefer cracked wheat (bulgur) to corn, noodles and rice. The flavour of Armenian food is based on quality rather than covering it up with herbs and spices.
Eating is a huge part of Armenian culture and there is always an excuse for a festival including a great Armenian food feast. Many of these dishes will be familiar to you for example dolma, kebabs, and tabbouleh but the Armenians put their own twists and flavours into these essential dishes.
- Traditional Armenian food – 45 Armenian dishes you must try now
- 45 Armenian dishes you must try
- Armenian Bread
- Traditional Armenian cuisine
- Pasus Tolma – Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
- Harissa – Armenia's National Dish
- Lahmacun/Lahmajun/ Lamadjo
- Shashlik and Kebabs
- Vospov Kofte
- Lule Kebab
- Cig Kofte/Chikofte
- Byorek/Burek/ Dabgadz Banir Boerag
- Chechil – Armenian Cheese
- Armenian String Cheese
- Dried Fruit
- T’tu Lavash
- Topik Dumplings
- Armenian Eggplant
- Fasulya / Lobahashu – Bean Soup
- Armenian Rice Pilaf
- Armenian desserts
- Armenian drinks
- Armenian food tours
- Final Thoughts on Armenian Food
I’ve put together some of the best dishes you need to try once in Armenia.
45 Armenian dishes you must try
One of the most famous Armenian foods – lavash is a soft thin flatbread that in a way resembles a Mexican tortilla although it is usually shaped in a rectangle. Lavash is considered the king of Armenian bread and it is the national bread of Armenia.
Matnakash is another traditional Armenian bread that uses wheat flour and a leavening agent. The dough is shaped into rounds or ovals with deep central ridges created by pulling a finger through the raw dough. The crust is brushed with sweet tea before baking.
Tahinov Hatz (Armenian Tahini Bread)
A crispy and sweet bread is also called Khobz bi–tahini, sesame paste bread, or tahini roll. A sweet treat this bread is covered with sesame paste, and sugar, and sometimes layered with cinnamon.
This literally means a flatbread stuffed with a variety of herbs. The herbs are layered onto a thin dough and then it is baked in a special pan. According to which baker you listen to the bread must be layered with 7, 8, 9, 20 or 27 fresh herbs each one has their own secret herb mixture.
Traditional Armenian cuisine
Dolma is found all over Europe and the Armenian dish is very similar. Minced meat is mixed with rice and various herbs and then wrapped tightly in fresh grape leaves. In Armenia, dolma is usually served with yoghurt made from fermented milk and mixed with garlic.
Pasus Tolma – Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
Tolma is the cabbage leaf version of Dolmas where the stuffing includes lentils, chickpeas, red beans and bulgur mixed with tomato paste and seasonings.
Harissa – Armenia’s National Dish
Armenian Harissa is not the same as the spice paste you may know. In Armenia, harissa is a sort of porridge that combines meat and is cooked for many hours. Harissa is considered the National Dish of Armenia.
Manti here in Armenia is the same as Manti served in Turkey. The dumplings are filled with beef or lamb and finely chopped onion and parsley and served with garlic yoghurt or tomato sauce.
These little pillows of flavour are actually roasted and then covered in a red pepper and tomato sauce which is then baked so that the sauce becomes absorbed into the dumplings. Manti is served with the traditional Armenian dip of yoghurt and garlic.
The most popular Armenian food is Lahmajun one of Armenia’s favourite dishes. It is a sort of pizza with a round bread base topped with minced beef, onions, garlic and peeled tomatoes. It is oven-baked and then served with fresh mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon.
Ailazan is an ancient dish of Armenian cuisine which dates back to the 19th century. Traditionally it is cooked in a special oven called Tondir. Ailazan is a vegetable stew prepared from potatoes, aubergines, bell pepper, green beans, and tomatoes. Vegetables should be laid in layers in a cauldron and stewed for an hour.
The word khorovats means grilled meats or barbecue sort of the Armenian version of kebabs. Pork is the usual meat used and it is marinated in salt, garlic, onion and pepper with some herbs added. The meat is then skewered and grilled over charcoal or in a tandoor-style oven.
Shashlik and Kebabs
Armenian lamb kebabs are marinated with onion, thyme and basil and then grilled on skewers over hot coals.
A minced meat dish that is lightly spiced and mixed with crushed wheat and onions however, they are not grilled but cooked in a chicken broth that is flavoured with brown sugar and pomegranate molasses.
This is an Armenian Lentil Kofte with a kofte patty made from red lentils and bulgur. The cooked lentils and wheat are mixed with onions, butter and salt and fried then served with a salad and sprinkled with cumin.
Is a traditional Armenian dish of skewered minced meat kebab. It is made with different types of meat like beef, lamb, or mutton ground with onions, herbs, spices, and seasonings. The meat is shaped into a sort of flat sausage around a skewer and then grilled on a mangal.
The kebabs are then wrapped with a lavash and various vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, and roasted peppers are added along with a sprinkling of sumac.
Often called the ‘Armenian steak tartare’ these meatballs are made of ground lamb, goat or beef mixed with bulgur, spices, tomato or pepper paste and onions. The meatballs when cooked are topped with olive oil and lemon and served with chopped tomatoes, onion, cucumber and peppers.
Yershig is a dry fermented sausage that is pretty spicy and salty. Made with ground meat which is usually lamb or beef and a ton of spices and seasonings. When dried it is quite hard so it is fried in its own fat or combined with stews and soups.
Basturma is an air-dried, smoked beef rather like Jerky in America. The salted meat is dried for 15 days and then covered in a spicy paste of cumin, hot paprika, pepper, fenugreek, allspice, salt and garlic. The Basturma can be eaten raw or cooked and is often used like pastrami in sandwiches.
Khash is a soup that is used to soothe the head and stomach – after say heavy drinking sessions. The soup is made from offal and other parts of the sheep.
The name Khash comes from the Armenian Khashel which means to boil. The soup is served with dried lavash crumbled into it and is often served for breakfast. It is served along with condiments like radish, garlic, lemon, cinnamon and vinegar.
Byorek/Burek/ Dabgadz Banir Boerag
Often served as an appetizer or in an Armenian meze platter byoreks are heavenly hand pies of beautifully crisp and flaky phyllo dough stuffed with cheese, herbs and spinach. The filling is bound with eggs and then wrapped in the delicate phyllo pastry.
Boreks, bureks or borags, beregs, boregs, and boeregs, are found throughout the ancient Ottoman empire countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Serbia.
Chechil – Armenian Cheese
is an all-natural smoked, braided, string-cheese snack handmade from pasteurized cow milk the perfect snack to go with your beer.
Armenian String Cheese
A mezze staple Armenian string cheese is a white cheese that is usually made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, and studded with nigella seeds. It comes in a braid shape which is then unwound and creates the ‘strings’ to eat as a snack or with a mezze platter.
Armenians love their fruits and the Pomegranate is indigenous to the Armenian highlands and considered the country’s symbol. They represent abundance, fertility and marriage. Armenians love pomegranate juice and the sweet fermented pomegranate wine.
Many Armenian markets and shops display dozens of dried fruits. You will see apricots, sour cherries, sumac berries and black plums and these are often used to add a sour note to puddings, cakes, and soups.
T’tu lavash is an Armenian fruit leather and is popular in many countries such as Georgia – tklapi, Turkey – pestil, Iran – lavashak and the Arabic countries where it is known as amerdeen.
The fruit is dried in the sun and then rolled into thin leather-like sheets. The best one in Armenia is the Apricot T’tu lavash because the Armenian apricot is the national symbol of the country.
Matsun is an ancient Armenian food like yoghurt it is a fermented cow’s milk yoghurt. A very important component of Armenian cuisine it can be eaten with Lavash or added as an ingredient to other dishes.
Matsun can also be dried and it then becomes Kamats matsun which is created when the yoghurt is strained and dried to preserve it.
Eetch is an Armenian bulgur salad very much like tabbouleh and is made from pureed tomatoes, bulgur, onion, paprika, bell peppers and parsley.
Mshoh is a traditional Armenian salad prepared from brown lentils, dried apricots, walnuts and onion cooked together. Mshosh is served as a salad or snack hot or cold.
Topik is a favourite Armenian dish and it is a dumpling made from chickpea flour or ground chickpeas mixed with potatoes and white flour rolled into little balls with onions, pine nuts, herbs, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and tahini. The dumplings are boiled and served cold.
An Armenian dish of fried liver and onions.
A simple side dish that is considered a salad in Armenia the eggplant is sliced and fired. When cooked the dish is covered in sour cream/yoghurt, grated garlic and chopped walnuts. The slices are then garnished with chopped dill and pomegranate seeds.
The most famous Armenian fish dish is Ishkhan or Sevan trout. This is a freshwater trout that Armenians love. Ishkan translates as Prince and this fish is considered to be among the best in the country.
Kololik is an Armenian meatball soup, with meatballs made from ground lamb mixed with rice, onions, parsley and seasonings. The broth of the soup is usually beef and has onions, tarragon, potatoes and rice in it
Kchuch is a rich meat and vegetable stew made with lamb and vegetables that may include potatoes, onions, peppers and eggplant. A truly authentic Armenian cuisine dish it is finished with a dash of Armenian wine. Sort of an Armenian goulash without the noodles.
Ghapama is a pumpkin that is stuffed with rice, dried fruits, sugar, cinnamon sugar or honey and nuts and baked until soft. It is usually served on New Year’s Eve or Armenian Christmas on January 6th.
Fasulya / Lobahashu – Bean Soup
Fasulya/lobahashu is a dried bean soup, made from kidney beans that have been cooked and mashed with tomatoes and peppers. The mixture is then seasoned with herbs, garlic, walnuts and spices.
Armenian Rice Pilaf
Rice Pilafs are known throughout the world and the Armenian version is a combination of rice, vermicelli noodles (sometimes orzo or bulgur) cooked in stock seasoned with a variety of spices like mint, parsley, oregano, and allspice.
The main ingredients in Sujuk are grape, apricot, pomegranate, and flour which is mixed with hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts and occasionally chocolate and raisins are involved. The mixture is thickened around a string and then dipped in grape juice and dried.
This is a sweet bread made from a dough of flour, eggs, butter, baking soda, baking powder, and sour cream or heavy cream. The dough is rolled with sugar and butter to create a light fluffy pastry enjoyed by Armenians as a snack or dessert.
Just like the Middle Eastern desert Armenian baklava is also made of layers of phyllo pastry filled with nuts and then drenched in a sweet syrup or honey.
A brilliant cookie/coffee cake sweet, light flakey pastry layered with a streusel or walnut filling very similar to Gata. One of the Armenian favourites with coffee or tea is this cookie-coffee cake. Sweet pastry with many shapes, with butter, crispy sweet, rolled inside streusel or walnut filling.
Usually made to celebrate Easter Chorek is a soft sweet bread enriched with eggs, butter, milk, and sugar along with Mahlab to make it slightly sweet, rich, and tender-crumbed.
Mahleb is a spice made from the seeds of a species of small wild cherry that is ground and used in many middle eastern dishes, particularly a lamb tagine. But mahleb is dominantly used in sweet dishes. The flavour is a combination of cherry rose and almond but it does have a bitter aftertaste. In baking, it adds that certain flavour that no one can identify.
Nope not Japanese but a traditional Armenian dish Mikado cake is a multi-layered chocolate cake with its thin layers held together with caramel buttercream icing and topped with shaved chocolate.
Soorj – Armenian Coffee
Armenian coffee is black and very, very strong, and it is a normally unfiltered coffee with a small serving size. It is normally black coffee making it very strong.
Matsnaprtosh is a traditional cold Armenian drink that uses matsun (cold fermented milk) combined with cucumbers and dill with salt and other herbs that is diluted with water and served in a glass.
The dish can also be turned into a cold soup to which is added boiled potatoes, green onions, radishes, bulgur, mint, and cilantro. This is a refreshing soup on a very hot day.
This is basically kefir or fermented milk like yoghurt and is a thick cooling drink usually served with lamacun by Armenian street food vendors.
Armenian food tours
Armenian Wine Tour
During this Tour you will be able to travel to the place where Christianity was started in Armenia after you will be able to Taste the amazing wine of Armenia in the Wine factory and be able to learn more about the Wine culture of the Armenian nation, You also will visit the Areni Cave which dates all the way BC and see the first winery ever created by human, which was in Ancient Armenia.
Armenia Food tour
This tour program is a typical gastronomy tour during which You will taste Armenian cuisine and drink popular Armenian wine and brandy. Also visit Garni and Geghard region where You will participate in the lavash (traditional Armenian bread) baking process and masterclasses in making dolma, gata, and other traditional dishes.
Armenia Gastronomy Food tour
Choosing a gastronomic tour to Armenia, you’ll have an opportunity to bake traditional Armenian Lavash, and delicious Dolma, and taste the famous Armenian wine and world-famous Ararat Brandy. During our tour, you’ll get a true taste of Armenian cuisine, moreover, you’ll be amazed by the spirit and hospitality of Armenians.
Armenia Coffee farm tour
The Ramón y Elena Coffee Route is a model of entrepreneurship with social impact. In addition to entertainment, visitors will find how the economic benefit can be integrated with nature conservation and social impact. In Ramón and Elena, we collect rainwater and use it for the benefit of coffee, we recognize a fair payment to the collectors and we have the Recolecta Amor program, for the education of the children of the collectors. On our route, you will find a large number of varieties of fruit trees that provide shade to coffee and help conserve the ecosystem.
Final Thoughts on Armenian Food
Armenian food is complex and deeply entwined with the culture and history of the country. Armenia is a former Soviet republic that became a country in 1991. With its title as one of the earliest Christian civilizations, it contains a rich traditional cuisine based on both Oriental and Western culinary heritages. A great way to learn about Armenian food is to visit the GUM Market.
The name for the GUM Market comes from the Russian abbreviation for ‘Main Universal Store’. It was a title given to the main department stores in former Soviet Union cities like Yerevan. This is where you go for meat, cheeses, candy, fish and all the usual Armenian treats.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about Armenian food and will not only visit this amazing country but indulge in some great culinary traditions.
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