MELANIE MARGARYAN WRITES — Asian countries take great pride in their cultures. One of the most prominent aspects of any Asian culture is food.
Nations such as Japan, China, and India have authentic foods that are fairly familiar, but when it comes to Armenia, it’s difficult to come up with a dish exclusive to the country. There is a wide range of recipes that originate from China, like fried rice, dating to the Sui Dynasty. A popular dish authentic to India is butter chicken, which was created around 1950. A third example is sashimi, which comes from Japan.
But now, let’s consider Armenian food.
If you go online and look for examples, you’ll get a decent list. The thing is, over half of them aren’t exclusively Armenian. For instance, dolma, lahmacun, kofte, tabbouleh and baklava (and more) are often referred to as “Armenian” food. But the origins of these dishes are shared with multiple other nations, including Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, India and Iran.
Dolma is a combination of lentil, tomato, zucchini, garlic, eggplant, red pepper, onions, coriander and rice wrapped inside a grape leaf. Lahmacun is often called “Armenian pizza” because it’s a round tortilla topped with meat, cumin and parsley. Kofte is a mixture of tomato paste, paprika, cumin powder, chili pepper and bulgur wheat. Tabbouleh is a salad made of burglar wheat, mint, onion, tomato, lemon juice and olive oil. Lastly, baklava is a pastry consisting of dough, walnut, cinnamon, honey, cardamom and egg.
But there are also foods that are entirely authentic to Armenia, such as: khorovats, khash, eech and gata. Khorovats is Armenian barbecue, consisting of beef, chicken, pork and lamb, usually cooked with vegetables including eggplant, tomato and peppers. Khash is a soup prepared with sheep or cow’s feet with garlic, vinegar and lemon juice. Eech is a dish consisting of cooked bulgur wheat, tomato paste, vegetables, paprika and parsley. Finally, gata is a bread-like pastry made with flour, butter, nuts and sour cream.
The biggest reason Armenian cuisine isn’t nearly as popular as sashimi or fried rice is that Armenia is tiny in comparison to other Asian nations. So its culture isn’t as widespread. Armenians are pretty spread out globally, but they still make up a small population. Because of this, most people don’t know much about Armenian culture and foods.
Until now, at least, Armenian culture and its rich diversity of foods has been one of the world’s best-kept secrets.