Armenia is a diverse and interesting country. It has seen so much history throughout its life, and that history has forged a culinary tradition that is unique in the area. Armenian Food is show-stoppingly rich and diverse, much like the greater culture here. There are so many surprises to discover in the mountainous country, but the best surprises are on the table.
What Is Special About Armenian Food
Armenian cuisine is richly diasporic. Armenia has seen many migrations and rulers over the centuries and they have all left their marks on the food culture in Armenia.
Some of the most beloved dishes in Armenia are not originally from here but they have been adopted and embraced as part of the local culture. There is vast diversity and something for every palate to enjoy with Armenian foods.
Traditional Armenian cuisine centers around one all-powerful element, Armenian bread. Bread baking is part of the culture in Armenia and they do it exceptionally well.
Grains are not just used in breads here, though, they are a common thread throughout Armenian food. The spices and use of herbs in Armenian are expertly handled to create masterful Armenian dishes that have a full depth of flavor.
Most Famous Armenian Food
Lavash (Armenian Flatbread)
Lavash is the cornerstone of all Armenian cuisine. This Armenian flatbread is so paramount to the culture here that it is listed as an item on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This ancient Armenian bread is leavened using a starter so it has tons of rich sour flavor. The process of rolling and stretching this dough is an art form all of its own! The bakers bake this Armenian bread in classic clay ovens.
Lavash has a wonderfully yeasty and sour flavor. The dough bakes into a tasty, bubbly flatbread that is perfect for picking up dips and sauces. Lavash is a very thin Armenian bread so it is meant to be enjoyed fresh, otherwise, it will dry out quickly.
This Armenian food is served with every meal and used in place of utensils to pick up hearty dips, meats, and veggies. Therefore, you will definitely get your chance to try it. Lavash pairs well with just about everything and is a true bite of Armenian cuisine!
Traditional Armenian Food
Ghapama (Stuffed Pumpkin)
This traditional Armenian food is a real taste of the sweet life. This theatrical Armenian food is so over-the-top. It consists of a whole pumpkin or squash filled with a blend of hearty rice and dried fruits.
Dried fruits are a staple of Armenian cuisine and in this pumpkin dish, they create a perfectly sweet balance. This dish is a holiday or special occasion favorite.
Armenian Kebab (Meat Skewer)
Lamb is a common feature in Armenian foods and no Armenian version of lamb is as well known as the Armenian kebab. Kebabs are a delicious way to grill meat. This is a classic tradition in Armenian cuisine and no trip to Armenia would be complete without sampling an Armenian kebab.
Ground lamb (or sometimes beef) is marinated in oil and spices, shaped into kofta-style pieces, then skewered and grilled. The wonderfully grilled meat is enjoyed with other great Armenian foods like lavash or rice pilaf.
Soorj (Armenian Coffee)
While it may not technically be an Armenian food, Armenian coffee is essential to the lifestyle here and absolutely delicious. This amazingly flavorful way to prepare coffee makes their caffeine boost stand out.
For Armenian coffee, the beans are ground to powder so fine it is gritless, like confectioner’s sugar. This superfine coffee is boiled with water and served hot. It’s a deliciously smooth cup that pairs so well with all the excellent Armenian desserts, bread and pastry you will find here.
Khash (Meat Broth)
This is a waste-free Armenian food. Khash is a broth-like soup made from boiled sheep parts including harder-to-use parts like the head, feet, or stomach. It is a sure way to utilize everything the animal offers to avoid waste.
This classic Armenian food is rich in salty and meaty flavors. What may be surprising to Americans is that this unctuous soup is commonly eaten for breakfast. It is warming and full of plenty of protein to start your day the Armenian way!
This Armenian food has been beloved for centuries. Matsun is a yogurt-like dairy product that has been made in Armenia since the 14th century. It is typically made from cow’s milk, but sometimes goat and buffalo milk are used, as well.
Dairy is exposed to cultures similar to yogurt production. Matsun has a tangy and toothsome taste. It makes a great addition to Armenian breakfast or a light snack.
Armenian Food: Breads And Pastries
Gata (Sweet Pastry)
Gata is a diverse group of Armenian pastries. It is made in many different ways by different bakers but some elements remain the same across the board.
Gata is a layered and enriched pastry with a lot in common with the French croissant. The pastry is commonly filled, and that is where the variations start popping up. This sweet Armenian snack can have fillings that range from butter and sugar to nuts and fruits.
No matter what interpretation of Gata you find, you are sure to be impressed with the layered and sweet flavors of this classic Armenian dish!
Boereg (Filled Pastry)
There are few things as delightful in this life as boereg. It is a classic Armenian pastry with delectable flavors that cannot be resisted. This Armenian food starts with wonderfully light puff pastry, it is then filled with creamy cheeses, like goat and feta, and herbs.
The beautiful puff pastry is folded into a nice pocket and baked to a perfect golden crisp. This delicious Armenian dish is perfect for snacking, the only downside is knowing when to stop with these scrumptious Armenian snacks!
Matnakash (Leavened Bread)
Bread baking is a way of life in Armenia. The bakers here have ancient secrets that make Armenian bread so outstanding. One perfect example of Armenian bread is matnakash.
This is an oval loaf of bread with distinctive grooves down the center or finger pulls. Those grooves are a signature of this classic Armenian food. The bread is typically leavened in the “old dough” or sourdough method, so there is plenty of rich yeasted flavor in this loaf.
Matnakash is great for enjoying with stews, dips, or all on its own.
Zhingyalov Hats (Stuffed Flatbread)
This delectable flatbread is a local favorite for Armenian snacks. Zhingyalov hats are unleavened Armenian bread. It is cooked flatbread style on a griddle so the exterior gets a nice crunch. What makes this Armenian food so special is what is on the inside.
This delicious flatbread is stuffed with incredible flavors. The filling for zhingyalov hats typically consists of freshly diced herbs like spinach, chickweed, and more are blended into an herbaceous filling. These breads make the perfect grab-and-go snack in Armenia.
Lahmacun (Armenian Flatbread Pizza)
Lahmacun is another type of Armenian bread. This savory dish is made from a delicious Armenian flatbread that is covered in a tasty mix of ground meat and spices. Typically the spice blend includes red peppers, herbs, and onions. It has a delicious mix of flavors that makes the perfect Armenian snack.
Some may call this the Armenian version of pizza, but there is one large distinction between the two dishes, cheese. Lahmacun has amazingly full flavor from the meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices, but no cheese. Enjoy this flavorful Armenian food on the go thanks to its perfectly grabbable nature.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Armenian Food For Lunch
Basturma (Cured Meat)
Basturma is the perfect Armenian food to try for lunch. This delectable Armenian food is a local favorite to fill flatbreads or eat on its own.
Basturma is an air-dried meat that’s been produced in Armenia for centuries. Heavily spiced beef is cured by hanging it in the open air. The meat can get a bit of garlic aroma, but don’t let that deter you from this rich Armenian dish.
Basturma has a savory meaty flavor with plenty of tanginess and spice from the curing process. It is the perfect thing to eat with lavash for a true Armenian meal.
Itch/Eech (Armenian Bulgur Salad)
No Armenian food tour is complete without Eech. This is a signature Armenian dish and it’s beloved for its versatility. Eech makes a great side dish or stand-alone vegetarian meal.
Eech is a flavorful mixture of cracked wheat (bulger), tomatoes, and herbs. It can be enjoyed warm or cold, with Armenian bread or its own. The flavor of eech is complex with notes of earthiness from the grains and brightness from the tomatoes and herbs. This irresistible Armenian dish is perfect for a light lunch or as a side to a big Armenian feast!
Vospov Kofte (Red Lentil Patty)
One of the best things about Armenian cuisine is the wide range of options. No matter what your diet is, there is something indulgent here for you, and vospov kofte is the perfect Armenian dish for vegetarians.
This dish is made up of satisfying patties made from cooked red lentils, cracked wheat, herbs, and spices. The lentil mixture is squeezed into its signature oblong shape and served with salad, pilaf, or eech. It is a wonderfully interesting Armenian food!
Kololik (Meatball Soup)
Winters in Armenia can be tough, especially higher up in the Caucasus Mountains, so locals need food that will keep them warm. Kololik is just the thing to chase away the cold. This comforting Armenian food is a uniquely local take on meatball soup.
The meatballs are made with an Armenian staple, lamb, and often incorporate cracked wheat. The perfectly spiced balls of meat are then served in a rich and unctuous broth that coats the tongue in so much satisfaction. This soup usually comes with Armenian bread.
Armenian Food: Snacks and Sides
Topik (Chickpea Snack)
Topik is another vegetarian wonder in Armenian cuisine. This is sort of the Armenian take on veggie meatballs, and you will not be able to get enough of them!
Topik is an excellent mix of chickpeas, potatoes, herbs, spices, and sometimes dried fruit. The chickpea mixture enrobes a tasty tahini center that works in conjunction with the other ingredients to make this dish hummus-like in flavor, but much more complex and irresistible.
Topik can be found as Armenian street food or served as an appetizer to a rich Armenian dinner.
Sujuk (Cured Sausage)
Meat needs to last in the cold climate of Armenia, so classic cooks developed clever ways to preserve their meat. One cured meat that has stood the test of time is the Armenian sujuk. It is a savory and interesting example of all the rich flavors there are to find in Armenian cuisine.
Sujuk is a heavily spiced beef sausage that is cured in a humidity-controlled environment and the final product is rich and garlicky cured beef sausage. It is perfect on lavash or on its own!
Cig Kofte (Seasoned Meat Tartare)
One can’t-miss Armenian street food is cig kofte. It is a flavorful snack or lunch that has irresistibly Armenian flavors. It is made from extremely prime ground beef.
The meat is cut with bulger, tomatoes, and spices and shaped into the signature oblong kofte look. It is served uncooked, but thanks to the freshness and high quality of the meat this Armenian food is safe for healthy adults to enjoy.
No Armenian table is complete without a dish of rice pilaf. This wonderful grain side is the perfect flavor companion to the rich meats and Armenian cheeses loved by locals. Pilaf is a combination of rice, pasta, herbs, and spices; some variations may include the Armenian cuisine staple, bulger.
The rice and pasta are toasted with herbs and spices and cooked in a flavorful broth that imbues the rice with so much depth. This dish is commonly paired with meat and lavash to make a well-rounded Armenian meal.
Chechil (Armenian String Cheese)
The cold climate in Armenia has inspired some truly delectable food innovations, like chechil. This is a local favorite for a quick Armenian snack. Chechil is a brined Armenian cheese made in the string cheese style. This complex Armenian cheese has notes of smoke, brine, and sweetness.
Chechil is world renowned for pairing well with beer. With or without a pint this one tasty Armenian food you will not be able to stop snacking on!
Armenian Food: Dinner
Harissa (Meat Porridge)
Harissa is a local favorite for chasing away the cold. This comforting Armenian food is made from wheat and meat that are stewed together into a rich meaty porridge. Many versions of this Armenian favorite use chicken as the meat, but lamb and beef are both common variations. This sumptuous porridge is served with lavash for scooping up every last tasty bite of harissa.
Manti’s origins may not be fully Armenian but this delicious food has become synonymous with Armenian cuisine. Manti are traditional dumplings filled with beef or lamb and plenty of herbs and seasonings. They are usually served in a meaty and tomatoey broth that backs in so much umami flavor your tastebuds will go wild. This simple yet satisfying Armenian food is pure comfort and eating it will warm your soul!
Kchuch (Claypot Stew)
Visiting Armenia during the colder months can be bracing, luckily there are so many warm Armenian foods to brighten things up. This warming Armenian dish gets its name from its cooking vessel, the kchuch or clay pot.
It is a traditional stew made from lamb, or sometimes beef, and vegetables. Potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and more are all simmered in this hearty stew, alongside the meat. It is served in the kchuch.
Local Armenian wine and herbs are sprinkled over the top of the stew to make a luxurious and satisfying garnish. This comforting Armenian food is perfect with lavash and a bowl of eech.
Tjvjik (Fried Beef Liver and Onions)
Some of the best dishes the world has to offer are born out of a desire not to waste, and tjvjik is one sensational example. This is simple Armenian food but with loads of local flair.
Tjvjik is made from fried liver and onions. Other local favorite vegetables are sometimes added, like tomatoes and peppers. The whole dish is fried to bring out the rich fatty flavor of the liver and the sweetness of the onion.
The final dish is so packed with meaty savor you will want to eat it all the time! This rich Armenian dish goes well with pilaf, eech, and lavash.
Fasulya (Bean and Meat Stew)
This is another imported dish that has found its way into the heart of Armenian cuisine. This dish has many different variations but at its core, it is a stew of beans and meat. Many Armenian interpretations include lamb or beef as the meat and chickpeas, white beans, or green beans as the bean element.
The stew includes some Armenian cuisine staples like tomatoes and bright local herbs. It is a comforting Armenian food that welcomes you into the diverse world of Armenian eating! Try dipping some lavash in this tasty stew for a traditional Armenian dish.
Discovering Traditional Armenian Foods
To visit Armenia you need to pack your appetite. The cuisine here is bold and enchanting. Armenian food is unique in the region for its embrace of herbs and spices and mastery of the art of bread. From rich meats to bountiful veggies there is something here for everyone. Come hungry and ready for some tasty surprises, because the food in Armenia is anything but boring!