Food & Drink
We hope that you'll be hungry enough when you visit Artsakh, because, oh sweet heavens! The Armenian cuisine and special dishes that are Arstakhian will leave you full, happy and impressed.
First things first, we don't have small portions, whatever you order you will receive a good plate of pleasure, which can even be paired. Food here is not only satisfying, but also quite affordable, and the ingredients are super organic, simply because water in our area is one of the purest and sweetest in the world and the sun is warm making the vegetables and fruits have an intense taste and aroma. The variety of dishes that are made from meat and vegetables are palatable for foodies and gourmets who love to discover something new mixed with national flavors. The main secret of the famous Artsakh longevity is the use of pure ecological products, with moderate use of unique mulberry and cornel vodka, which contains large amounts of natural essential life-giving oils. Feel free to eat anything you want, it's healthy and tasty at the same time.
Zhengyalov hats is probably the most famous Arstakhian dish (a bread pancake with herbs), a very ceremonial one that tastes even greater when paired with wine, Artsakian wine. The preparation process is like a short documentary based on the real facts of course. It all starts with gathering around a family, surrounded by loving people, sweet talks and good news because good energy is essential during the cooking process. The tradition of preparation is accomplished by grown, experienced women who pass their secrets of baking to their daughters. The process is really magical; the dough is disclosed thin as paper, flat cake, and stuffed with a mixture of about 20 different varieties of wild and garden, finely chopped greens with vegetable oil. Then it's baked on a flat roasting pan called "sadj". A couple of minutes and the "pie" is ready - hot, steaming and appetizing. It is so tasty to eat it scalding hot from the sadj! Red homemade wine completes the picture and stirs up the appetite. Zhengyalov hats is especially popular during religious holidays and it is like a small piece of heaven for vegans.
Armenian khorovats - barbecue, is another no less popular dish prepared from pork, lamb or calf, pre-marinated in a mouth-watering mixture of onion, salt, red or black pepper and then traditionally cooked on firewood. Let us say that the smell is too irresistible. Armenian barbecue is known all over the world. Khorovats is usually served with a salad of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and greens again made on firewood or coals. Khorovats is the main dish for almost every celebration in Armenia and Artsakh. During Armenian weddings, the waiters bring out Khorovats dancing along the song of Khorovats. It is truly a symbol, a traditional element that takes a special delicious place in the life of Armenians. By the way, Armenians all over the world keep the tradition of making Khorovats and enjoying it with friends and family.
Кhash is that extra dish, one of the most traditional ones. The main Khash ingredient is beef shin. It is the family men who cook it all night and in the morning the flavored broth-khash is ready, served with garlic, vinegar and dried lavash. It has a specific taste and is not an everyday dish. People have it from time to time during Khash season. There is a tradition of starting off khash season with the first snow, but it is also considered a summer staple in mountain regions such as Aragats. The very drink to have with Khash is vodka, it spices things up. Once in Artsakh, you should at least one time try Khash, because it is one of those national typical dishes that you should discover.
Kurkut is another traditional dish with a unique taste. The long process of preparation consists of soaking the grains of wheat, specially crushed, then cooking them with pork, goose or turkey all night long. Kurkut is then prepared in a clay oven known as a tonir. It’s best served in the morning, surrounded by friends and family. Like Khash, Kurkut tastes better with a company. Even today, in Artsakh and the outlying villages, Kurkut is a staple of wedding eats served to the groomsmen; it staves the hunger of the wedding guests until the festive feast.
Tolma tastes like the signature dish of an Armenian Mom. It has such a warm and delicate taste. Here, we prepare 2 types of Tolma, a "summer" type - stuffed eggplants, tomatoes and peppers, cooked in the broth, and "winter" tolma – minced beef wrapped in grape or cabbage leaves. Grape leaves are harvested for future use, either marinated, or simply salted in a glass pot. Tolma is traditionally served with matsoun, a sauce of yogurt and garlic. Tolma is all time favorite dishes, it's light but at the same time satisfying, it's rich in vitamins, at the same super delicious. It is a classic dish, which will never go out of style, and will take a spe cial place in your heart.
Khashlama is a traditional meat dish where meat, mostly beef or lamb, is cooked with tomatoes, sweet pepper, onions and carrots. The tradition of making Khashlama comes from early unmemorable times for Armenians. This responsible task of making Khashlama belonged to men. In the past, the process of making Khashlama was becoming a full ceremony. It is also delicious with some sour flavorings. That’s why very often Armenians add beer or wine with it. This gives it an extra peculiar taste. Another key component of making tasty Khashlama is taking meat on the bones for cooking. This will make your dish more aromatic and juicy.
Khashil is a traditional hearty dish that saved more than one generation from hungry winters. It is fast to prepare, quite tasty and satisfying. It has long been prepared in almost all regions of the country, but especially Khashil is popular in Shamshadin and Arstakh. Khashil really saves in the cold season, when the summer abundance of fruits and vegetables has long been left in the past. The main ingredient is roasted and ground wheat boiled it the water, like any porridge. When the porridge is ready, hot fried onions are added here, and around the dish tan or matsun is poured.
Khingal is the Artsakian version of Pasta with lamb, beef or chicken depending on the taste. It really tastes amazing as you can imagine quite well the combination of these two and not only; pasta, spices, butter, crispy meat bits, yogurt, herbs – this dish has every essential component for a content and delicious lunch or dinner. It can be a little heavy for breakfast. So remember its name or write it down for your next visit to Artsakh.
Artsakh cuisine is quite diverse, rich in vegetables and meat. An interesting component of the Artsakh cuisine is a special kind of bread – tonrahats, the flat bread baked in special cylindrical shape clay ovens dug in the ground (tonirs). Its baking is time-consuming ritual process; tonrahats is baked only in Artsakh. Also popular in Artsakh is another kind of bread, traditional for the entire Armenian - lavash, which is usually used to roll up an Armenian cheese or meat, seasoned with onions, herbs and peppers.
Every Armenian knows that Noah, having reached this holy land, planted a vine in Armenia. That was the beginning of viticulture in Armenia. Archaeological excavations have shown that the Armenians were engaged in winemaking since the beginning of the 10th century BC .Since ancient times, the Armenians were able to produce a good wine, and grape growing techniques have remained virtually unchanged since the time of Urartu. So it is in Artsakh. In the courtyards of the families, involved in winemaking, were installed the wine presses. Exclusively male pressed the grapes. There is a special type of grapes in Arsakh with high sugar content, so it produces more alcohol. There are prevalent grape varieties as Haghtanak, Areni, Kishmish and of course Khndoghni. The latter one is believed to be the best thing Artsakh wine industry has. The grape isn’t grown in Armenia, only in Artsakh. It makes red wines with an herbaceous, almost vegetal edge and intense tannins. Treated badly, khndoghni wine can be too tannic for any of the grape’s gentle fruit flavors to shine through. At its best, though, khndoghni makes wines that balance tension with plush fruit – food friendly but thoughtful and serious. Its best iterations are aged judiciously in Caucasian Oak barrels, themselves made from wood grown in Artsakh. It is quite popular in Armenia as well and is being served in top-rated restaurants.
Besides flavorful wines, Artsakh also offers tourists special kind of vodka that are made from such Armenian fruits like apricot, mulberry, a specific sort of pear and many more. You can easily buy them in shops and if you want to witness the process of making, tourists in Artsakh can watch in rural areas how the traditional home-made mulberry vodka is distilled, which is famous for its healing properties. Mulberries are stored in barrels for 8-10 days until they start to wander, and then the mixture is simmered in a big vat. Steam of the boiling mixture passes through the tube, is cooled by water and flows into the barrel in the form of alcohol. Where there is great food and drinks, there’s much culture and fun. Welcome to Artsakh!