Skip to Content

National Food of Armenia: Top 18 Dishes

Welcome to a Culinary trip through Armenia! Have you ever wondered about the rich textile of flavors that make up the national cuisine of Armenia? Perhaps you’re curious about the origins of iconic Armenian dishes or the etiquette surrounding Armenian dining traditions. Join us as we explore the heart of Armenian culinary culture, exploring the diverse range of flavors, ingredients, and customs that define this ancient cuisine.

In this article, we’ll take you on a gastronomic adventure through the “Top 18 Dishes” that show Armenia’s culinary heritage. From hearty stews to delicate pastries, each dish offers a glimpse into the dynamic pattern of Armenian flavors. We’ll uncover the stories behind beloved classics like Harissa, Lamadjo, and Dolma, while also exploring lesser-known delights such as Ghapama and Nraneh.

Along the way, we’ll highlight the spices, dining etiquette, and farm-to-table movement that shape Armenia’s dynamic food scene. So sit back, relax, and prepare to tempt your taste buds as we travel into the world of Armenian cuisine. And don’t forget to check out our other articles for more culinary adventures from around the globe!

Top 8 National Foods of Armenia

1. Harissa

photo by Ketone16

Harissa, the national dish of Armenia, is a hearty oatmeal made from korkot (dried or roasted cracked wheat) and fatty pieces of lamb or chicken. Originating from the Ararat plains, its history dates back to ancient times and is associated with Gregory the Illuminator, Armenia’s patron saint, who used it as a charity meal. The preparation method is debated: some believe it should not be stirred until fully cooked, while others insist on stirring once the wheat is half-cooked.

2. Lamadjo

photo by Garrett Ziegler

Known in Turkey as lahmacun and often referred to as Turkish pizza, lamadjo is a beloved food and lunchtime snack. This crunchy, doughy treat features a thin disc of sturdy semolina dough lightly spread with a paste of minced lamb or beef, chili, onions, and seasonings. Popular in street stalls and traditional Turkish restaurants, as well as kebab eateries where mini versions are served as appetizers, lahmacun represents an essentially delicious, portable delight.

3. Suǰux

photo by RosarioVanTulpe

Sucuk, or sujuk, is a semi-dry, spicy sausage with a high-fat content, enjoyed across the Middle East, Balkans, and Central Asia. Traditionally made with ground beef and spices like cumin, paprika, and garlic, it is dried for at least three weeks before consumption. While it can be served cold and thinly sliced, it is more commonly fried and paired with eggs and vegetables.

4. Khorovats

photo by Violettarmenia

Armenian barbecue, known as khorovats, is a cherished culinary tradition prepared uniquely by men who carefully select the freshest meat, which can be pork, beef, or mutton, based on preference. The meat is marinated and refrigerated before being grilled alongside vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and green peppers. The grilled meat is then served in lavash (pita bread) with onions and herbs.

5. Lula Kebab

kebab of lamb, with homemade bread.

Lula kebab is a distinctive kebab variety from the Caucasus region, primarily made of ground lamb mixed with finely chopped onions, salt, and black pepper. The meat is kneaded until dense enough to stay on skewers without falling apart, then grilled to perfection. Other meats, including fish and poultry, can also be used.

6. Dolma

photo by Maderibeyza 

An essential part of Armenian cuisine, dolma involves minced meat (beef, pork, sometimes mutton) mixed with herbs, basil, oregano, and rice, wrapped in grape leaves and served with a fermented matsun and garlic sauce. Variations include “summer dolma,” with meat wrapped in cabbage leaves or stuffed in vegetables, and “pasus tolma,” a meatless version for vegetarians, using wheat, lentils, peas, and beans. Dolma is a dish every Armenian girl traditionally masters before marriage.

7. Zhingyalov Khats

photo by GeoO

Originating from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), zhingyalov khats is an Armenian flatbread filled with a variety of herbs and greens. This delicacy is made from thin unleavened dough, topped with a mixture of finely sliced herbs like spinach, leeks, scallions, and tarragon, folded, sealed, and baked on a hot saj. The blend can include up to 20 different kinds of greens, making it a unique and flavorful bread.

8. Khash

photo by Interfase

Khash is more than a dish in Armenia; it’s a communal ritual. Prepared from beef feet and rumen, it is cooked overnight and served with garlic and herbs, traditionally enjoyed by men who prepare it, while women enjoy the final product. Eaten primarily in the morning during the late autumn and winter, khash is believed to have medicinal properties, often prescribed for those with bone fractures or issues.

7 Traditional Dishes to Eat

9. Armenian Kufta

photo by Benoît Prieur 

Armenian Kufta is a traditional meat dish that shows the precise preparation of beef. Historically, Armenians would beat the best cuts of beef with wooden hammers on stone until the meat became a smooth, creamy mass. Modern preparation involves passing the meat multiple times through a grinder, then mixing it with Armenian brandy, milk, and finely chopped onions. Shaped into balls or flat circles, the kufta is cooked in boiling water with added red wine, resulting in a dish so delicate it melts in their mouth.

10. Tjvjik

photo by AndyHM

Tjvjik is a flavorful Armenian dish made from half-roasted beef parts such as heart, lungs, and liver, combined with onions, tomato paste or tomatoes, and various spices. This dish, whose name translates to Fried Liver, offers a robust and hearty taste, reflecting the traditional methods of Armenian cooking and the use of every part of the animal.

11. Basturma and Sudjukh

photo by T.Tseng

Basturma and sudjukh are staples on the Armenian New Year’s table, renowned for their sharp taste and memorable aroma. These cured sausages are heavily spiced, with chaman being a key ingredient. They are a popular choice for those looking to bring a taste of Armenia home, making them beloved treats that represent the rich culinary heritage of the country.

12. Ghapama

photo by AndyHM

Ghapama is a lively and sweet autumn dish that captures the heart of Armenian cuisine. It features a hollowed pumpkin filled with a mixture of rice, nuts, raisins, dried apricots, and other dried fruits and spices. This colorful dish is not only visually stunning but also symbolizes peace and friendship, making it a favorite among food lovers.

13. Nraneh

Nraneh is a flavorful Armenian broth made with lamb meat, pomegranate juice, and beet greens. The soup includes rice and peas and is garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves. This combination creates a delicious and unique taste that is a staple in Armenian culinary tradition.

14. Putuk

Photo by Matthew Hamilton 

Putuk is a traditional Armenian soup rich in regional flavors. Its main ingredients are lamb meat, chickpeas, potatoes, onions, dried alycha (plum), and saffron. This hearty soup represents the deep-rooted culinary practices of Armenia, offering a comforting and aromatic meal.

15. Khashlama

photo by Anonymous

Khashlama is a perfect Armenian stew often served at family celebrations and traditional events. It consists of layers of beef or lamb, vegetables, and potatoes, all slowly soaked together with tomato paste and spices. The result is a rich, aromatic dish perfect for sharing, highlighting the communal spirit of Armenian dining.

Spices: The Heart of Armenian Cooking

Armenian cuisine is celebrated for its rich flavors and aromatic spices, which contribute to its distinctive and complex taste profile. Dried mint, a versatile herb, is widely used in both tasty and sweet dishes, lending a refreshing note. Cinnamon, with its warm and sweet flavor, enhances various dishes, while cloves add a strong, sweet, and aromatic dimension, often found in spice blends.

Ground coriander brings a warm and citrusy touch, and tangy sumac, made from ground sumac berries, is frequently used as a seasoning or garnish, adding a unique zest to Armenian dishes.

Other essential spices in Armenian cooking include paprika, which adds color and a mild heat, and cumin, known for its warm and earthy flavor. Black pepper is a staple, providing heat and depth to numerous dishes. Allspice, with its warm and slightly peppery flavor, and bay leaves, which impart a delicate aromatic core to soups, stews, and meat dishes, are also commonly used.

The combination of these spices creates the signature complex and flavorful dishes that define Armenian cuisine, highlighting the complex balance of flavors that make it so distinctive.

Armenian Family Dining

photo by G0h4r

Armenian family dining is characterized by a range of flavorful and hearty dishes that reflect the country’s rich culinary heritage. One common dish is pilaf (yeghints), a seasoned preparation of rice, bulgur, or shelled wheat often served with meats like lamb or beef. Armenian pilaf recipes might combine vermicelli or orzo with rice, cooked in a stock and seasoned with herbs such as mint, parsley, and allspice, creating a fragrant and savory staple.

A typical Armenian meal is a communal affair, featuring a variety of fresh and preserved foods. Bread, butter, buttermilk, cheese, and both fresh and pickled vegetables, including radishes, are common components of the meal. Lunch might include a vegetable or meatball soup accompanied by sour milk, while lamb, yogurt, eggplant, and bread are staples across the country.

Despite regional variations, these core elements display the Armenian dedication to wholesome, flavorful, and diverse dining experiences that bring families together around the table.

See Also Famous Buildings in Armenia

Street Food

16. Lavash

photo by Yas Irani

Lavash is an ideal Armenian flatbread that is a staple of the country’s cuisine and a popular street food. Thin and soft, this traditional bread is versatile and perfect for wrapping around various fillings such as cheese, meats, and vegetables. Its simplicity and adaptability make it a beloved snack for both locals and visitors.

17. Chebureki

photo by N509FZ

Although chebureki is not originally Armenian, it has become a beloved part of Armenian street food culture. These deep-fried turnovers are filled with minced meat, onions, and spices, offering a tasty and satisfying treat. The crispy exterior and juicy filling make chebureki a favorite choice for a quick and tasty snack.

18. Armenian Gata

photo by Rita Willaert

Gata is a sweet Armenian pastry that comes in various shapes and flavors. Made from a dough enriched with butter, it is filled with a sweet mixture of sugar and flour, often enhanced with nuts or spices. This delicious pastry is a popular street food, offering a delightful combination of flaky texture and sweet filling.

Farm-to-Table Movement

photo by Narek75

Armenia’s farm-to-table movement is flourishing due to the country’s rich agricultural landscape and dedication to fresh, local produce. The fertile valleys around the Aras River and north of Yerevan yield an abundance of figs, pomegranates, apricots, olives, peaches, walnuts, and quince. This agricultural wealth includes the renowned Armenian brandy and a variety of seasonal vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and hot peppers.

These fresh ingredients, combined with grass-fed, free-range meats such as , create a dining experience deeply rooted in Armenia’s agrarian traditions and culinary heritage.

The farm-to-table experience in Armenia extends beyond high-end restaurants in major cities like Yerevan and Gyumri to rural and small-town life. Family-owned guesthouses across the country offer home-cooked meals that emphasize local produce, while village gastro yards provide authentic regional cuisine, featuring specialties such as blue cheese, honey, and fresh trout.

This movement has earned Armenia a reputation for its unique and flavorful cuisine, attracting food lovers and renowned chefs from around the world.

Dining Etiquette

photo by Julia M Cameron

Dos

1. Accept Invitations After Third Offer: When invited to join in food or visit someone’s home, they only accept the invitation after it has been offered three times.

2. Expect Generous Portions: They are prepared for heaping, generous portions of food as the host aims to honor the guest with abundant servings.

3. Participate in Toasts: The host will make a toast in their honor, and it is customary to participate in the toasting tradition.

4. Enjoy Mezze: They appreciate the starter course (mezze), which may include stuffed grape leaves, hummus, cheese, stuffed eggplants, falafel balls, and other Mediterranean delights.

5. Engage with Locals: They extend a friendly hello to locals, which may lead to invitations for coffee, snacks, and eventually dinner.

6. Try Local Beverages: They start with a yogurt-based drink called tan, followed by Armenian soda, and then explore stronger beverages like flavored vodka, brandy, and wine.

7. Follow Toastmaster’s Lead: They respect the role of the toastmaster, who controls the drinking order and ensures everyone has a good time.

Don’ts

1. Don’t Ignore Toasts: Failing to participate in toasts can be seen as disrespectful, so they join in the custom enthusiastically.

2. Don’t Drink Whenever You Want: Drinking in Armenia is ceremonial. They don’t drink whenever they feel like it; they follow the toastmaster’s lead.

3. Don’t Miss Trying Local Drinks: They avoid skipping local drinks like tan and Armenian soda, as they are integral to the dining experience.

4. Don’t Forget to Compliment the Food: Showing appreciation for the food and drink is important, so they don’t forget to compliment their host and the offerings generously.

Global Influence and Popularity

photo by KANDJY

Armenian cuisine, rich in history and diverse flavors, has made a significant impact on global culinary traditions. The use of filled pastry pies like boereg, various types of sausages, and flavorful snacks like toasted pumpkin seeds and basturma, shows the complex and hearty nature of Armenian dishes. Spices such as cinnamon are universal, adding warmth and sweetness to a variety of foods, from soups to desserts.

This blend of flavors reflects the geographical and historical influences on Armenia, incorporating elements from Levantine and European culinary practices. The international appeal of Armenian cuisine is evident in the excited reception it receives from travelers. Dishes like the renowned pork barbecue, khorovats, capture the heart of Armenian hospitality with their smoky aroma and rich, tender flavors.

The practice of cooking with fire, using the traditional clay furnace “tonir,” highlights Armenia’s ancient culinary techniques that continue to be celebrated today. Armenian cuisine not only delights locals but also charms the taste buds of people around the world, making it a beloved and enduring part of the global food landscape.

See Also Music in Armenia

Key Takings About National Food of Armenia

1. Top National Food of Armenia: From the hearty Harissa to the flavorful Dolma, Armenia’s top dishes reflect centuries of tradition and culture.

2. Traditional Dishes to Eat: Armenian Kufta and Basturma are just a glimpse into the rich textiles of flavors waiting to be explored in Armenian cuisine.

3. Spices: The Heart of Armenian Cooking: Aromatic spices like cinnamon and sumac add depth and complexity to Armenian dishes, making each bite a travel for the senses.

4. Armenian Family Dining: Pilaf, bread, and a variety of fresh and pickled vegetables are staples of Armenian family dining, bringing loved ones together around the table.

5. Street Food: Lavash, Chebureki, and other street foods offer a taste of Armenia’s culinary heritage on the go, satisfying cravings with every bite.

6. Farm to Table Movement: Armenia’s dedication to fresh, local produce shines through in dishes like Ghapama, highlighting the country’s agricultural bounty and culinary traditions.

7. Dining Etiquette: From participating in toasts to enjoying mezze, Armenian dining etiquette is rooted in hospitality and respect for tradition.

8. Global Influence and Popularity: Armenian cuisine’s global impact is undeniable, with dishes like Khorovats and Dolma winning hearts and taste buds worldwide.