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Tempt your Tastebuds with the Best of Armenian Food

 

Armenian cuisine is not only a great way for a gourmet  to taste fantastic dishes, but it is also a magic which lays in each dish bearing a great history over the decades. Armenian cuisine reflects Armenian traditions and customs, the way Armenians lived for centuries and crave to create.

Armenian Bread

Unlike the rest of the world, Armenians cannot eat anything without bread. Bread is an inseparable part of Armenian table, so Armenians created new types of bread and new ways of baking bread.

  1. Lavash

Lavash is an Armenian traditional bread. In 2014 it was listed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as “the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia”. Lavash is considered to be dietic bread. It is baked in the place named “Tonir” (an oven under the ground)

For preparing Lavash you will need:

flour

water

salt

  1. Matnakash

Matnakash is another type of Armenian bread. It is the most favourite bread of Armenian men, as it satisfies your hunger at the first bite.

For preparing Matnakash you will need:

flour

water

sugar

dry yeast

salt

egg white

  1. Qari Hats

Qari Hats translated into English as “Stone bread” is a type of a hard bread. The bread is too tasty but it will do harm to the people with bad teeth.

For preparing Qari Hats you will need:

flour

salt

water

dry yeast

  1. Zhingyalov hats

Zhingyalov hats is a type of bread full of different herbs. It’ s a very tasty bread which is not necessarily used with other dishes, but it is rather eaten alone with a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

For the preparation of Zhingyalov hats you will need:

green onion

green garlic

herbs:

gindz

kndzmndzuk

chrchruk

trtndguk

tstapashar

mint

nettle

garnakandj

wild dodder

dill

spinach

and other (unknown to you) herbs

Armenian Dishes

  1. Tjvjik

Tjvjik is a kind of dish which can be described as Fried Beef Liver.

Ingredients of the dish are:

fresh beef liver

 

hot and cold water

olive oil, or any vegetable oil

onions

fresh green chilli pepper, slices into strips

ground black pepper

Salt to taste

  1. Spas

Spas is an Armenian yoghurt soup. Matsun, the main ingredient used in spas preparation is a unique Armenian sour yoghurt full of many vitamins.

Ingredients of the dish are:

Matsun,

water,

egg,

flour,

wheat,

salt

onion,

butter,

herbs

  1. Lavash baked fish

Lavash baked fish is a fantastic dish full of improvisation. Armenian women bake it with spices, seasonings, side dishes to go with it. Usually, they serve it with roasted/baked potatoes, apples and pears.

  1. Qrjik

Qrjik is a traditional Armenian dish the main ingredient of which is sour cabbage. Armenians love to make sour vegetables and eat them in winter.

Ingredients of the dish are:

sour cabbage

groats

potato

water

herbs

salt

pepper

oil

  1. Msho Plav

Msho plav is a type of dish typical to a region in ancient Armenia named Mush.

Ingredients of the dish are:

bulghur (a type of wheat)

beef or chicken breast

peas,

onion,

red pepper,

salt

  1. Mojoj

Mojoj is a very tasty soup popular in Armenia.

Ingredients of the dish are:

pork legs

garlic

vinegar

laurel leaf

black granulated pepper

salt

  1. Khorovats

The most favourite dish of Armenians is Khorovats (known to the world as barbeque). Armenians cannot imagine their life without this dish.

Ingredients of the dish are:

Pork

Pepper

Onion

Salt

Vegetables for Vegetable Khorovats

Tomato

Green Pepper

Eggplant

Potato

  1. Kebab

Kebab is the second favourite dish of Armenians (the first one is Khorovats). It is considered to be a fast-food in Armenia.

Ingredients of the dish are:

beef

pork fat

onion

Red pepper

green onion

mixed greens

salt

  1. Khashlama

If you are too hungry and you need a wonderful soup to satisfy the sharpness of your hunger, then Khashlama is the best choice.

Ingredients of the dish are:

Lamb

potatoes

onion

red sweet pepper

tomatoes

hot pepper

garlic

parsley,

coriander,

basil

salt,

pepper

  1. Khash

Eating Khash is a whole tradition for Armenians. Khash gathers Armenians together. There are several rules which should be kept while eating Khash: you should eat with your hands – say no to spoons, Khash is eaten with dried lavash poured into it, Khash should be accompanied by Oghi (alcohol drink famous as Vodka), it takes a very long time to prepare Khash, so Armenians usually make it for a whole night.

Ingredients of the dish are:

beef legs

garlic,

salt,

greens

  1. Ishli Kufta

Ishli Kufta is a tasty dish which always attracts with its unique shape. The taste is unforgettable. It is usually served with lemons.

Ingredients of the dish are:

For the layer

beef,

bulghur (a type of wheat)

onion

For stripping

beef

onions,

melted butter,

parsley

salt

red and black pepper

 

  1. Harissa

Harissa has a unique meaning for Armenians: it was first made in Musa Ler in 1915 during the conflict with Turkey. Musa Ler is a small town in Armenia with strong people who were fighting in 1915 for 40 days eating only Harissa.

Ingredients of the dish are:

korkot (dried or roasted cracked wheat)

fat-rich meat – chicken or lamb

herbs

salt

pepper

butter

  1. Ghapama

Ghapama is a very beautiful dish. What an imagination should a person have to create such a tasty  and pretty dish?

Ingredients of the dish are:

Pumpkin,

rice,

dried fruits (almonds, apple, cornel, apricot, prunes, raisins)

  1. Garni Yarakh

The name of the dish came from the expression Garni gorge. This hot dish is especially popular among the residents of Garni. Do you remember about the only pagan temple in Armenia Garni?

Ingredients of the dish are:

Ground beef

Onion

Herbs

Tomato

Eggplant

Cheese

  1. Bozbash

Bozbash is an Armenian traditional soup, which has two variants – chilli and not chilli.

Ingredients of the dish are:

Lamb

peas

onion

potatoes

tomatoes

hot pepper / sweet pepper

greens

oil

salt

Dolma Types

  1. Dolma

There are many discussions and quarrels about the origin of this dish. Some people are sure that Dolma is an Armenian dish, and others insist that it is a Turkish dish. My opinion is that it can be both Armenian and Turkish dish, as these two nations lived next to each other for centuries. There are even traditions and customs which are the same and the question of belonging to this or that nation is irrelevant.

Ingredients of the dish are:

ground meats (usually beef)

onion

rice

Garlic Cloves

ground black pepper

curry powder

tomato paste

red pepper paste

Dry herbs, such as basil, dill,

wine leaves

Boiling water

There is so much to discover about Armenia and Armenian food! Stay with us and find out more amazing places, food, drinks, traditions and customs.

A guest post by Armenian travel writer Ani Shahnazar

If you wish to visit Armenia and are looking for a tourcompany, visit: https://ararattour.com/en/

Disclaimer: We do not get any commission or other advantages from ararattours.

 

 

 

Kos – Island of Hippocrates

 

When living in Altinkum/Turkey, I used to hop on a ferry from either Kusadasi or Bodrum to visit the Greek islands of Samos and Kos respectively.

A short ride across the water and I was in another country and culture. Being the history fan that I am, Kos provided me with plenty of that, plus pleasant walks along the water front and around the markets and a the biggest mixed fish and seafood platter in a restaurant in the port I have ever eaten. Once I made the journey just for that!!

Approaching the port you are greeted by a massive 14th century fortress, built in 1315 by the Knights Hospitaler. You can climb up and have a great overview of the sea and the island from the top.

Crossing the street you reach a promenade which runs all the length of the U shaped harbor and once, when I stayed longer, I went on a boat trip.

Although it’s not totally confirmed, Kos is considered the birth place of Hippocrates. I love the statue which shows him with disciples ad then there is the Plane Tree of Hippocrates, its branches supported by scaffolding. Wander around to look at all the remains of the many civilizations which have left their mark on the island, like the Asclepeion.

Monument to Hippocrates

 

Of course, there is a modern part too which shop after shop and stall after stall, selling quite pretty Greek garments. Plenty of duty free shops too.

On the opposite site, in Kalymnos there are plenty of beaches, hotels of all categories, cafes and restaurants and Kos even has a small airport which caters to flights between islands.

If you plan to stay for a few days, now you  have a first class hotel to enjoy your Kos adventure even more.

 

IKOS ARIA, KOS

 

Opening in May 2019, Ikos Aria is the latest addition to the luxurious Ikos Group’s portfolio. With existing properties in Halkidiki and Corfu, this latest chic outpost will take up residence on the Dodecanese island of Kos. Offering the group’s unique Infinite Lifestyle All Inclusiveconcept, incorporating extensive activities, premium drinks and cuisine and dine-out at authentic local restaurants within the price, the hotel will be ideal for families and couples alike looking for their every need to be taken care of, while immersing themselves in local island culture.

Sovereign Luxury Travel (01293 832 459, www.sovereign.com) has a seven night May Half Term holiday to the five star Ikos Aria on Kos, on an All Inclusive basis, from £3,799 per family of three. The price includes a 10% room discount, a free stay for one childprivate resort transfers, UK airport security fast passes and access to N°1 Lounges (where available), and return flights from London Gatwick with Thomas Cook. Based on departures 27 May 2019. Book via www.sovereign.com/holidays/greece/kos/kefalos/hotels/ikos-aria/

 

If you plan island hopping in the Dodecanese think of including Kos in your travel itinerary.

 

 

Essaouira – the Moroccan Woodstock

“Essa…what?” my travel companion Mary asked. “Where do you want to go?” “Essa—ouuu…rja,” I repeated, savoring every sound. I admit, I had secretly practiced. Everybody can say’ Casablanca’ or ‘Marrakesh’, but to get your tongue around the name of this particular pearl in the necklace of Moroccan beauties needs some doing.

Never mind, once you tell  your hotel receptionist in Marrakesh  that you would like them to arrange a taxi for a day trip to Essa—ouuu-rja, they will break into a broad smile, nod their head vigorously and say: “you’ll love the decadent charm of the place” or “enjoy the city of sunlight and wind”. Or other words to the effect, but always with a poetic nuance to it.

We set out early one sunny morning in May from our base in Marrakesh. Our young guide and taxi driver was a Berber as he proudly pointed out after introducing himself as –  you guessed it – Muhammed.

The coastal town of Essaouira lies at a distance of approx. 120 miles west of Marrakesh on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a straight run, the first part of it a smooth and modern motorway. But, as the suburbs of Marrakesh fade into the distance you find yourself in the desert. Dunes line the road, more rubble and pebble than sand, the lush green vegetation of Marrakesh gives way to thorny bushes, gnawed at by herds of goats and sheep. The wind starts already blowing much stronger and at about halfway point, ‘smooth’ is a word of the past. “This,” Muhammed explained with a grin, “is what we call a Moroccan massage.”

Here and there huge Argan trees overshadowed the bleak ground and we were grateful for a break at a wonderful and very interesting  small factory where we could see how the Argan nuts were treated and  made into fantastic soaps, creams and oils. A pleasure for all senses and we stocked up on some beauty treats.

Thankfully,  a few miles out of Essaouira the ‘Moroccan massage’ came to an end and the first glimpse of our destination hove into view. A white, wide and long beach, pounded by crashing waves and dotted with countless colorful sails of windsurfers and kitesurfers. A windy city, indeed, and a paradise for water sport enthusiasts.

“Let’s eat first,” Muhammed suggested, “and then you can stroll through the medina”. He didn’t even ask if we liked fish, you don’t eat anything else if you visit Essaouira. The place is famous for the freshest fish and it’s consumed right at the fish market. Stall after stall offer the latest catch, you point at what you want, sit down at rickety communal tables, order your drink and salad and whilst you wait that your choice is grilled, you engage in lively conversation with your fellow guests. And you get your first impression of the massive fortress , walls and ramparts which surround the medina as well asf the sea wall and the dramatic  coastline behind with the island of Modagor visible in the distance.

They got into the spirit of the place

Essaouira has a long and colorful  history and traces of first  settlements  date back to pre-historic times. The fortress and medina however go back no further than the 18th century when King Mohammed III decided to make Essaouira Morocco’s primary port and the center of trade. French engineer as well as specialists  from other European nations designed and constructed the fortifications as they are today and Essaouira became the trading point for wares brought by caravans  from the sub-Sahara to Timbuktu and from there across the desert and the Atlas mountains to here.

Wiping our mouths and fingers and with our stomach happily full of fish, we went through one of the massive main gates into the mediana of Essaouria. Tour guides and taxi drivers  are not allowed to accompany you, so we strolled on our own.

Immediately we understood, what the decadent charm was all about. A bit of peeling paint here, a missing shutter there, wooden doors askew and the whole setting populated by people, locals and visitors alike, for whom the words ‘hurry’ and ‘no time’ did not seem to exists. Not for nothing was Essaouira a favorite hangout for the likes of Jimy Hendrix and Orson Welles. There is even a bust in his honor.  Winston Churchill liked it too.Once upon a time a hippie favorite, quite a  few are left over, sporting dreadlocks and a slightly forlorn look on their faces.

The winding alleys are lined with art galleries and crafts shops, wood carving  being preeminent. Some of the paintings are outstanding and so are fabulous bags and slippers as well as hand crafted silver jewelry. The entire atmosphere is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of its counterpart in Marrakesh. You get the impression that the shop keepers are just happy to sit in or in front of their shops, drink tea and engage in conversation and actually couldn’t care less if a potential customer showed up or not.

Essaouira is a still breathing reminder of times gone by and the laid back atmosphere is contagious. So much so, that we nearly forgot we had to go back the same day and needed to make an effort to go and find our waiting taxi driver…fast asleep in the backseat.

If you want to spend the night or a few days, there is a variety of hotels available. Modern ones near the beach and much more romantic, but simple ones in the medina. Also check out the annual Gnaoua Festival of World Music in the last week of June an event which inspired the title of this post and added yet another moniker to Essaouria: The Moroccan Woodstock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

El colcho – a unique artifact of Sagunt

When I first arrived in Sagunt, I silently dubbed the place ‘The City of Without’. The reason? The river Palancia doesn’t have a drop of water. My hotel had a reception but no receptionist. Starving, I entered a bar only to be told that they didn’t have any food, not even a miserable donut.  Something unheard of in Spain.  Finally, I tried to use  an ATM but… it had no money.

This somewhat  negative start took a dramatic turn for the better the moment I entered the Tourist Office on Plaza Cronista Chabret. The boss, Paco Torrijos, couldn’t do enough to help me with information as soon as he heard what I was doing in Sagunt.

colcho

My eye was caught by glass showcases in the office which contained several artifacts I had never seen before. Naturally, I enquired and learned that these pretty vessels are called colchos and that they were used from the 18th century onwards to carry drinking water by the farmers and laborers when they were toiling in their fields. Unlike other flasks they are made from big slices of cork oak, decorated and held together by brass. Two openings are inserted, one to pour the water in and another to drink from.

The shape, vertical and horizontal cylinders, differ, depending on the owner being male or female. With the disappearance of agriculture and the arrival of tins and plastic bottles, there was no need for the original use of the colchos anymore and by 1969 the art of making them was dying out.

This is where the story gets really interesting. The last craftsman, belonging to the Ortiz family, decided to keep the art alive and to teach it to mentally handicapped people who live in the Centro Ocupacional San Cristobal in the mountains a short drive out of town. That’s where the colchos are made today and sold in various sizes as souvenirs and much coveted gifts for weddings and other celebrations. From practical they have become decorative and provide a great opportunity for the handicapped to use their skills, which are remarkable.

I know this, because I asked Paco if I could visit the center and see in situ how the colchos are made. It took several phone calls and some persuasion, but finally I was allowed to visit. It was a heart warming experience. The guys came forward with big smiles on their faces and each was eager to show me which part of the colcho they were making. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos of the people of course, but the teacher held up parts and finished pieces for me to photograph. They also have other workshops where they paint or make wicker baskets.

horizontalcolcho

verticalcolcho

engraving

chain

Paco, who is a great collector of anything to do with Sagunt, her art and history, owns about 50 colchos, among them a rarity: one made from wicker, also produced by the guys from the center.

wickercolcho

The prices vary from €62 to €20 according to size. They are sold at stands at the weekly mercadillo but, strangely, in no souvenir shop in Sagunt. Even stranger, there is only one: half way up the mountain on the way to the castle.

The only souvenir shop
The only souvenir shop

The center doesn’t have a website but you can send them an email if you want to know more. [email protected], FAO Pedro Rubio who is the director.

A day trip to Dubai

One of my four days in Sharjah was dedicated to a day trip to Dubai. This was a very easy enterprise, as Dubai is the emirate right next door to Sharjah and best reached by hopping on a bus. Those who follow me may know that I love to get around by bus where ever in the world I am because a) it’s usually the cheapest although not always the shortest way to get from A to B and b) more importantly, it’s one if the best ways to get in touch with the locals by sitting next to them and striking up a conversation, often honing your sign language skills in the process which is always good entertainment.

I made this particular trip with a friend, so I didn’t sit next to someone local but they were all around us as many people commute, working in Dubai and living in Sharjah. Therefore my co passengers were an eclectic mixture of smartly dressed business people, workers and lots of Indian and Philippine maids. It seems, that everybody has a maid in the Emirates, but I was already used to that from my stay in the Lebanon where even maids have maids.

There is no discernible border between the two emirates, in fact you don’t really notice where one ends and the other begins. After an hour or so we arrived at the central bus station in Dubai and then made our way to the Dubai Mall. My friend had to take care of some business, so this was not what you could call a ‘tourist trip’ which suited me just fine. Most of the time was spent in and around the mall, but there was so much to see and do that it didn’t matter I would have to leave a visit to the beach and Jumeira for another time.

Needless to say, that the first thing you see when coming to the entire district which is now known as Downtown Dubai is Burj Khalifa, at 2717 ff the world’s tallest building. It’s something awe-inspiring and you can’t help but marvel  at the architectural accomplishment. I couldn’t get a picture in one piece, so here is the top.

Burj Khalifa

What is so  beautiful about the mall is the man made lake which is the center piece and in and around which the various buildings are grouped. Bridges lead from one side to the other with ornately carved  arches and marble stairs leading from level to level.

Lake Downtown Dubai
Carved arch at the entrance to a bridge
So I don’t forget I have been there!

The Soukh Al Bahar not only offers every kind of luxury goods imaginable but is lovely to look at and I was particularly attracted to the many shops where you can have you own very personal scent made up for you. I love perfume and could have spent much more time there than we actually had at our disposal.

I already noticed that water displays and water entertainment in the city in parks and shopping malls was very popular in Sharjah and Dubai was the same. Fountains sprout high up into the air and kids and adults alike wander around and through them and get thoroughly wet, all  fully clothed. These water displays  are not primarily for looking at but for playing in which makes them quite unique. There are rows of ultra fast drying cabins around the edges where you step in and get dry again  in seconds.

One of the many fountains
In and out of the fountains

What I liked most and had never seen before were these pods. Again, they are big enough for adults and people just get in, close up and roll around in the lake.

The pods in the lake
Sun setting over the lake and Downtown Dubai

The day was rounded out by a meal  in one of the many restaurants and, as evening fell, we joined the queue of tired office workers who took the bus back to Sharjah. Made me really feel like a local.

World travels of a chic granny