The country’s unique position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia has cultivated a cuisine that’s as diverse as its history. Desserts are especially unique, with a dose of influence from both Asian and European cultures. These sweet creations are a testament to the country’s love for combining simple ingredients to produce extraordinary tastes.
Gata is a beloved Armenian pastry, often found in every household and bakery with its inviting, sweet aroma. It’s not just a dessert; it’s a staple of Armenian identity. The classic Gata is known for its tender, flaky texture and the sweet surprise of its filling. The core ingredient, khoriz, is a dense, sugary paste that gives Gata its distinctive taste. This pastry is a celebration in every bite, often served during holidays and family gatherings.
How To prepare Gata?
- In a large bowl, mix the flour and yeast.
- Incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Gradually add water and knead into a smooth dough.
- Cover and let it rise until doubled in size.
- Roll out the dough and spread the khoriz filling evenly over the top.
- Roll up the dough and form into a circular shape.
- Place on a baking sheet, let it rise again for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Pakhlava is another very popular cake. Each sheet of filo dough representing the many influences that have shaped the country’s cuisine. Armenian Pakhlava differs from its Middle Eastern cousin with the addition of spices like cinnamon, giving it a unique warmth. The nuts and honey create a rich, decadent experience, making it a luxurious treat for any occasion. We can see a lot of influence of Turkey and other countries from the same part of the world, which is only one of many interesting facts about Armenia.
|Filo dough||1 package|
|Chopped nuts (walnuts, pistachios, or almonds)||2 cups|
|Honey or syrup||1 cup|
How to prepare Pakhlava?
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Grease a baking pan with butter.
- Lay down a sheet of filo dough, brush with butter, and sprinkle with chopped nuts.
- Repeat the layering with the remaining filo sheets, butter, and nuts.
- Cut the layered filo into diamond shapes before baking.
- Bake for about 45 minutes or until the filo is golden and crisp.
- While baking, prepare the syrup by boiling sugar and water, adding lemon juice for flavor.
- Pour the hot syrup over the baked pakhlava.
- Allow it to cool completely before serving.
Sujukh, also known as Armenian snickers, is a traditional sweet that combines the natural goodness of walnuts with the boldness of grape molasses. This confection is a winter favorite, often made in large batches to be enjoyed with family. The grape molasses coating is not just sweet but also slightly tart, balancing the richness of the walnuts.
|Grape molasses||2 cups|
|Cinnamon or cardamom (optional)||1 tsp|
How to Prepare Sujukh?
- Thread the walnuts onto a string, leaving space between each nut.
- Prepare the grape molasses by heating it with a little water until it thickens.
- Dip the strung walnuts into the molasses, ensuring they are well coated.
- Roll the molasses-coated walnuts in flour and then hang to dry for several hours or until set.
- Once dry, cut into pieces and serve.
Anoushabour, or Armenian Christmas pudding, is a dish steeped in tradition, often served to herald the start of a prosperous new year. The pudding’s base of wheat berries is a canvas for the vibrant flavors of dried fruits and nuts, with pomegranate seeds adding a jewel-like finish. It’s a dessert that’s as beautiful as it is flavorful.
|Wheat berries||1 cup|
|Dried apricots, chopped||1/4 cup|
|Chopped nuts||1/4 cup|
|Pomegranate seeds||For garnish|
How to prepare Anoushabour?
- Rinse the wheat berries and soak overnight.
- Drain and transfer to a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until the wheat berries are tender and plump.
- Add sugar, dried fruits, and nuts, and continue to cook on low heat until thickened.
- Allow to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.
- Serve cold, garnished with pomegranate seeds.
Alani is a celebration of Armenia’s bountiful orchards, with dried peaches offering a sun-kissed sweetness that’s unmatched. The dessert is a delightful combination of textures, from the chewy exterior of the dried peaches to the crunchy, nutty filling. It’s a testament to the Armenian tradition of fruit preservation.
|Dried peaches||8 pieces|
|Walnuts, finely chopped||1 cup|
|Cinnamon or cloves (optional)||1/2 tsp|
How to Prepare Alani?
- Rehydrate the dried peaches in warm water until they are slightly softened.
- Mix the chopped walnuts with sugar and optional spices to create the filling.
- Stuff each peach with the walnut mixture.
- Arrange the stuffed peaches on a baking sheet.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 10-15 minutes or serve them as is.
Kadaif is a dessert that’s as fun to eat as it is to say, with its shredded wheat exterior hiding a sweet or savory filling. The dessert is soaked in syrup after baking, which seeps into the layers, creating a perfect balance between the crispy kadaif and the lush filling. It’s a versatile dessert that can be adapted to any taste.
|Kadaif dough||1/2 lb|
|Syrup (sugar, water, lemon juice)||1 cup|
|Cheese or chopped nuts (for filling)||1 cup|
|Butter, melted||1/4 cup|
How to Prepare Kadaif?
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Grease a baking dish and layer half of the kadaif dough on the bottom.
- Spread the cheese or nut filling over the dough.
- Cover with the remaining kadaif dough, pressing down gently.
- Drizzle melted butter over the top.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Prepare the syrup by boiling sugar, water, and lemon juice.
- Pour the hot syrup over the baked kadaif and let it soak in.
- Serve once it’s cooled down.
While many people may know it as a Turkish delight, Armenians also prefer this sweet and soft dessert, especially as part of their morning routine combined with coffee. The sesame base of halva is a rich and nutty canvas, complemented by the inclusion of nuts and a hint of spice. It’s a confection that’s both indulgent and comforting.
|Chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts)||1/2 cup|
|Cardamom (optional)||1 tsp|
How to prepare Halva?
- In a saucepan, mix tahini and sugar over medium heat.
- Stir continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Add the chopped nuts and optional cardamom, mixing well.
- Pour the mixture into a greased mold or dish.
- Allow to cool and set before slicing.
- Serve with tea or coffee.
Mshosh is a humble yet flavorful lentil dessert that showcases the versatility of one of Armenia’s staple ingredients. The lentils are paired with the sweetness of dried apricots and the texture of walnuts, creating a dessert that’s surprisingly light yet fulfilling. It’s a dish that embodies the simplicity and richness of Armenian cuisine.
|Dried apricots, chopped||1/2 cup|
|Walnuts, chopped||1/2 cup|
How to Prepare Mshosh?
- Rinse the lentils and boil in water until soft.
- Drain the lentils and mix with chopped apricots and walnuts.
- Add sugar to taste and a little water if the mixture is too dry.
- Cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is well combined.
- Allow to cool before serving.
What is the national food of Armenia?
The national food of Armenia is often considered to be Khorovats, which is an Armenian-style barbecue. It typically consists of grilled meat, which can include lamb, beef, goat, chicken, or pork, and is often flavored with a variety of spices and served with vegetables.
What is the popular food in Armenia?
Popular food in Armenia includes a variety of dishes such as Dolma (stuffed grape leaves or vegetables), Lavash (a thin, soft flatbread), Harissa (a thick porridge made from wheat and meat), and Ghapama (a stuffed pumpkin dish). Armenian cuisine also features an array of cheeses, fresh herbs, and breads like Matnakash.
What fruit grows in Armenia?
Armenia is known for its cultivation of delicious fruits, particularly apricots which are central to its agricultural output. Other fruits that grow in Armenia include peaches, grapes, plums, apples, cherries, pomegranates, and berries. The country’s diverse climate allows for a rich variety of fruits to thrive.
Is Armenian cuisine healthy?
Armenian cuisine can be considered healthy as it incorporates a variety of whole foods, including fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean proteins. Dishes are often prepared with olive oil or butter, and there is a strong emphasis on the use of fresh herbs and spices for flavoring, rather than relying on heavy sauces or excessive salt.
The desserts of Armenia stand out for their unique flavors and deep-rooted cultural significance. Each sweet treat, from the flaky layers of Gata to the rich, nut-filled Pakhlava, offers a glimpse into the culinary soul of Armenia.