The cuisine of Artsakh, as well as the history of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), leaves its roots in extreme antiquity.It represents a surprising combination of various possible tastes and aromas inherent only in an atmosphere sated with the sun, warm hearts and smiles of Artsakh people. The cuisine mostly consists of a variety of dishes prepared from meat and vegetables grown on the hills and valleys of Artsakh. So, if you are a gourmet and like to discover new meals - delicate, simple national dishes await your palate in Artsakh.
The basic secret of the well-known Artsakh longevity is the use of ecologically pure products together with the moderate use of unique mulberry or cornaceous vodka which contains plenty of natural vivifying ether oils.
Jengyalov hats - the flat grain cake with greens - is widespread and eaten as a meal in Artsakh throughout the whole year. It is unique to the cuisine of Artsakh and is not a staple of other regions of Armenia. Jengyalov hats is a ceremonial dish, the preparation of which involves collecting many relatives to take part in the activities. The food gives people a chance to unite once more, to talk about this and that, to exchange different news and simply to warm each other's souls with loving hearts.
The whole ceremony of preparation is made by aged, skilled women who pass the personal secrets of baking to their daughters and daughters-in-law. As if by magic the pastry is rolled out in a flat cake, thin as a paper, and then it is filled with a mix of almost twenty sorts of finely cut various wild greens, with vegetable oil. It is baked on the burning hot brazier named "sadj" , and this way in a few minutes the "pie" is ready - hot, steaming and appetizing. The tastiest way to eat it is burning hot, directly next to the sadj. Homemade red wine finishes the whole meal and stirs up everyone's appetites. Jengyalov hats is especially popular during the great post.
Armenian khorovats (barbecue) is another popular dish prepared from pork, mutton or veal. Before cooking the meat is pickled in a mix from onions, salt, red and black pepper, and afterwards barbecued on coals. Armenian khorovats is usually served with khorovats salad from eggplants, tomatoes, Bulgarian peppers and greens baked on coals.
Khash is one of the most traditional dishes prepared from beef shin by the men of family who cook it all the night long, and in the morning the saturated flavored broth called khash is served with garlic, dried out lavash (unleavened thin bread) and vinegar.
Kurkut (cereals) is one more traditional dish, the taste of which anyone who tries it will never forget. The long process of its preparation consists of soaking grains of wheat, crushing them, and then cooking them with pork, goose or turkey all night long.
Dolma is also very populat in Artsakh, but is a seasonal dish. In the summer it is prepared by stuffing eggplants, tomatoes and peppers with meat and rice, and stewing them in bouillon. In the winter, minced meat is rolled in vine or cabbage leaves. Vine leaves are prepared in the summer and stored with salt in a glass vessel to be used in the winter. According to tradition dolma is usually served with matsuni sauce (sour yogurt) and garlic.
Khashlama is another meat dish, predominantly prepared from beef and mutton, which is stewed with tomatoes, peppers, onions and carrots. Some cooks also add prunes for piquant taste, as well red wine or beer.
Artsakh's cuisine is also very rich in vegetable dishes and salads. Particularly, it is not possible not to taste the horse sorrel, mallow, bulbs of snowdrops, which are at first dropped in some boiled water for several minutes, afterwards either a soup or different salads are prepared from them, or they are just dressed with onions and eggs. Such kinds of dishes are usually served with yoghurt and nuts.
An interesting component of the cuisine of Artsakh is a special kind of bread called tonrahats, which is a thin flat bread baked in special cylindrical form clay ovens dug in the ground (tonirs). Its preparation is a laborious ritual process and tonrahats is made only in Artsakh. Another kind of bread is also popular in Artsakh, this is the traditional for all Armenians lavash, in which usually Armenian cheese or meat, dressed with onions, greens and peppers, is rolled.
Artsakh is well-known for its excellent wines - red, white, dessert or dry - which are made of Khindoghni and Muskat grape varieties. Also well-known are Artsakh's berry wines, made of blackberry, pomegranate, and other wild berries. Artsakh's homemade mulberry vodka of 50-70% alcohol is irreplaceable on the table, especially when guests come to visit.