Notes for Armenian Cuisine

Mezze:The word is found in all the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and comes from the Turkish meze 'taste, flavour, smack, relish', borrowed from Persian. The English word was probably borrowed from the Greek version mezés. When not accompanied by alcohol, meze is known in the Arab world as muqabbilat. Turkish meze often consist of beyaz peynir (literally "white cheese"), kavun (sliced ripe melon), acılı ezme (hot pepper paste often with walnuts), haydari (thick strained yoghurt like the Levantine labne), patlıcan salatası (cold aubergine salad), kalamar (calamari or squid), enginar (artichokes), cacık (yoghurt with cucumber and garlic), pilaki (various foods cooked in a special sauce), dolma or sarma (rice-stuffed vine leaves or other stuffed vegetables, such as bell peppers), and köfte (meatballs). In Greece and Cyprus, mezé, mezés, or mezédhes (plural) are small dishes, hot or cold, spicy or savory. Seafood dishes such as grilled octopus may be included, along with various salads, sliced hard-boiled eggs, garlic-bread, kalamata olives, fava beans, fried vegetables, melitzanosalata (eggplant salad), taramosalata, fried or grilled cheeses called saganaki, and various fresh Greek sheep, goat or cow cheeses (feta, kasseri, kefalotyri, graviera, anthotyros, manouri, metsovone and mizithra). Other offerings are fried sausages, usually pork and often flavored with orange peel, bekrí-mezé (the "drunkard's mezé", a diced pork stew), and meatballs like keftédes and soutzoukákia smyrnéika.
Popular meze dishes in Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Syria include:
Mutabbal/Babaghanoush – eggplant (aubergine) mashed and mixed with various seasonings.
Hummus – a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas
Hummus with meat (hummus bi'l-lahm)
Kibbeh (İçli Köfte in Turkey) – dishes made of burghul, chopped meat, and spices
Kibbe Nayye – burghul, chopped lamb meat, and spices
Spicy lamb and beef sausages (naqaniq/maqaniq/laqaniq and sujuk)
halloumi cheese
Whole roasted young birds
Yoghurt( Mast-o-Khiar in Iran)
Labneh – strained youghurt
Shanklish – cow's milk or sheep's milk cheeses
Muhammara – a hot pepper dip with ground walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil
Pastirma – seasoned, air-dried cured beef meat
Tabbouleh – bulgur, finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, scallion, with lemon juice, olive oil and various seasonings
Fattoush (Fatuş in southern Turkey) – salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread
Rocket salad (salatat jarjir)
Artichoke salad
In Lebanon and Cyprus, meze is often a meal in its own right. There are vegetarian, meat or fish mezes. Groups of dishes arrive at the table about 4 or 5 at a time (usually between five and ten different groups). There is a set pattern to the dishes, typically olives, tahini, salad and yoghurt will be followed by dishes with vegetables and eggs, then small meat or fish dishes alongside special accompaniments, and finally more substantial dishes such as whole fish or meat stews and grills. Different establishments will offer different dishes, their own specialities, but the pattern remains the same. Naturally the dishes served will reflect the seasons, for example in late autumn, snails will be prominent. As so much food is offered, it is not expected that every dish be finished, but rather shared at will and served at ease. Eating a Cypriot meze is a social event.
In Serbia, meze can include cheese, kajmak (clotted cream), salami, smoked ham, kulen (flavoured sausage), various bread types, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina, meze normally includes hard and creamy cheeses, smetana sour cream, (locally known as kajmak or pavlaka), suho meso (dried salted, smoked beef), pickles and sudžuk (dry, spicy sausage).
Albanian-style meze platters typically include prosciutto ham, salami and brined cheese, accompanied with roasted bell peppers (capsicum) and/or green olives marinated in olive oil with garlic.
In Bulgaria popular mezes are lukanka, a spicy sausage, soujouk, a dry and spicy sausage, sirene a white brine cheese, and Shopska salad, made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, roasted peppers and sirene. In Bulgaria, meze is served primarily at consumption of wine, but also as an appetizer for rakia and mastika.
In Greece, meze is served in restaurants called mezedopoleíon and tsipourádiko or ouzerí, a type of café that serves ouzo or tsipouro. A tavérna (tavern) or estiatório (restaurant) also offer a mezé as an orektikó (appetiser). Many restaurants offer their house poikilía ("variety"), a platter with a smorgasbord of various mezedhes that can be served immediately to customers looking for a quick and/or light meal. Hosts commonly serve mezédhes to their guests at informal or impromptu get-togethers, as they are easy to prepare on short notice. Krasomezédhes (literally "wine-meze") is a meze that goes well with wine; ouzomezédhes are meze that goes with ouzo.
In Turkey meze is served with rakı, an anise-flavored apéritif. In Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, arak liquor is served.
Phyllo:An early, thick form of phyllo appears to be of Central Asian Turkic origin. As early as the 11th century, the Diwan Lughat al-Turk, a dictionary of Turkic dialects by Mahmud Kashgari recorded pleated/folded bread as one meaning of the word yuvgha, which is related to yufka 'thin', the modern Turkish name for the dough, not to be confused with a Turkish flatbread also called yufka.
(Yufka is a Turkish bread. It is a thin, round and unleavened flat bread similar to lavash, about 18 inches (40–50 cm) in diameter usually made from wheat flour, water and table salt. After kneading, the dough is allowed to rest for 30 min. Dough pieces (ca. 5-6 oz/150-200 g) are rounded and rolled into a circular sheet. The sheets of yufka dough are baked on a heated iron plate called a sac in Turkish (pron. sadj). Baking time is approximately 2–3 minutes. During baking, the bread is turned over once to brown the other side. After baking, yufka bread has a low moisture content and, depending on how low the moisture is, a long shelf life. Before consumption, dry yufka bread is sprayed with warm water. The moistened bread is covered with a cotton cloth and is rested for 10 to 12 minutes before consumption. In Serbian cuisine, jufka is simply a mound of dough. In Bulgarian and Bosnian cuisine, jufka is very thinly stretched sheet of dough used for baking savory and sweet dishes.)
Phyllo dough is made with flour, water, and a small amount of oil and raki or white vinegar, though some dessert recipes also call for egg yolks. Homemade phyllo takes time and skill, requiring progressive rolling and stretching to a single thin and very large sheet. A very big table and a long roller are used, with continual flouring between layers to prevent tearing. Machines for producing filo pastry were perfected in the 1970s, which have come to dominate the market. Phyllo for domestic use is widely available from supermarkets, fresh or frozen.
Phyllo can be used in many ways: layered, folded, rolled, or ruffled, with various fillings. Some common varieties are with:
Cheese: called Tiropita in Greece and Cyprus, Peynirli börek in Turkey, Burekas in Israel, Gibanica and Burek in Serbia, standard Banitsa in Bulgaria
Chicken: called Kotopita in Greek cuisine Tavuklu börek in Turkish cuisine,
Vegetables: Chortopita in Greek cuisine (Prasopita when filled with leeks) sebzeli börek (spinach, leek, eggplant, courgette, etc.) in Turkish cuisine,
Meat: called Kreatopita in Greek cuisine, 'Kıymalı börek or Talas böreği (with diced meat and vegetables) in Turkish cuisine, Burek in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere
Nuts and syrup: Baklava, sütlü nuriye, şöbiyet, saray sarma in Turkish cuisine
Potatoes: called Patatesli börek in Turkish cuisine, Patatopita in Greek cuisine, Krompiruša in Serbia, Patatnik in Bulgarian cuisine
Powdered sugar on top
Spinach and feta cheese: called Spanakopita in Greek cuisine, 'Ispanaklı börek in Turkish cuisine, Spanachnik in Bulgarian cuisine
Su böreği in Turkish cuisine consisting of boiled dough layers with cheese in between can be described as a salty version of baklava. Some recipes also use an egg yolk glaze on top when baked, to enhance color and crispness. In Western countries, phyllo is popular with South Asian immigrants in making samosas. Phyllo is used in many of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire; to make flaky pies and pastries, including baklava, börek, gözleme, spanakopita, tyropita and bstilla. Phyllo is also used for güllaç, a Turkish dessert mostly eaten in the holy month of Ramadan, where layers of walnuts and rose water are placed one by one in warm milk. A similar Egyptian dessert is called Umm Ali.
Grilled meats:
Grilling (barbecue) is very popular in Armenia, and grilled meats are often the main course in restaurants and at family gatherings. Grilled meat is also a fast food.
Khorovats (or khorovadz) - Armenian word for barbecued or grilled meats (the generic kebab in English), the most representative dish of Armenian cuisine enjoyed in restaurants, family gatherings, and as fast food. A typical khorovats is chunks of meat grilled on a skewer (shashlik), although steaks or chops grilled without skewers may be also included. In Armenia itself, khorovats is often made with the bone still in the meat (as lamb or pork chops). Western Armenians outside Armenia generally cook the meat with bones taken out and call it by the Turkish name shish kebab. On the other hand, the word kebab in Armenia refers to uncased sausage-shaped patties from ground meat grilled on a skewer (called losh kebab or lule kebab by diasporan Armenians and Turks). In Armenia today, the most popular meat for khorovats (including losh kebab) is pork due to Soviet-era economic heritage. Armenians outside Armenia usually prefer lamb or beef depending on their background, and chicken is also popular.
Gharsi khorovats – slivers of grilled meat rolled up in lavash, similar to the Middle Eastern shawarma and the Turkish doner kebab; this "shashlik Ghars style" takes its name from the city of Kars (Armenian: Ghars) in eastern Turkey, closes to the Armenian border.
Meat products:
Pastırma:Wind-dried beef has been made in this region for centuries. Pastırma itself is usually considered Armenian, though it is produced and consumed in a wide area of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Andrew Dalby also mentions its use in Byzantium.Though beef is the most common meat today, various meats are also used, including camel, lamb, goat, and water buffalo, with camel being the most prized especially in Syria, another big pastırma producer. Pastırma is prepared by salting the meat, then washing it with water and letting it dry for 10-15 days. The blood and salt is thensqueezed out of the meat which is then covered with a cumin paste called çemen (lit., 'fenugreek') prepared with crushed cumin, fenugreek, garlic, and hot paprika, followed by thorough air-drying. Depending on the variety of the paprika, it can be very spicy but not quite as hot as, for example, hot chili. In the Ottoman Empire, the best known craftsmen for the making and the curing of pastırma were the from Central Anatolia.The Lebanese-Armenians introduced pastirma to Syria and Lebanon in great quantities, and it is usually served as a mezze in thin slices, usually uncooked, but sometimes lightly grilled or added to eggs for breakfast. It may be added to different dishes, the most famous of which is a bean dish, and various pies.
In Egypt, pastirma is used for breakfast, with fried eggs. It is also used as a topping for pizza, and a filling for a variety of oven prepared stuff dough dishes, whether they are made from regular bread like dough, or a flaky multilayered puff pastry like dough.
Palestinians eat the pastirma sliced in thin slices and fried in olive oil. The pastirma/bastirma is served not only in the mezze table but also as breakfast food eaten with freshly baked pita bread.
Cypriots eat the pastirma whole and grilled.
In Turkey, where it is eaten as a breakfast with eggs and as a meze with rakı, there are more than 22 kinds of pastırma. Generally speaking, the mainstream spiced version from Central Anatolia, often called Kayseri pastırması, is most common. The less-common Rumeli pastırması "Balkan pastırma", is simply salted and dried.
Sujuk:Sujuk, also soudjouk (from Turkish: sucuk) is a dry, spicy sausage in Turkish cuisine eaten from the Balkans to the Middle East and Central Asia. Sujuk consists of ground meat (usually beef, but pork is used in non-Muslim countries and horse meat in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, with various spices including cumin, sumac, garlic, salt, and red pepper, fed into a sausage casing and allowed to dry for several weeks. It can be more or less spicy; it is fairly salty and has a high fat content. Sujuk may be eaten cooked (when raw, it is very hard and stiff). It is often cut into slices and cooked without additional oil, its own fat being sufficient to fry it. At breakfast, it is used in a way similar to bacon or spam. It is fried in a pan, often with eggs (e.g. as breakfast in Egypt), accompanied by a hot cup of sweet black tea. Sujuk is sometimes cooked with haricot bean or incorporated into pastries at some regions in Turkey. In Bulgaria, raw, sliced sujuk is often served as an appetizer with rakia or other high alcoholic drinks. In Lebanon, cooked sliced sujuk is made into sandwiches with garlic sauce and tomato. Sujuk is also commonly used as a topping on savoury pastries in Iraq, Syria, Israel and Lebanon; sujuk shawarma is also occasionally found. In these countries, it is often regarded as an Armenian speciality known as Armenian sausage. Akin to sujuk shawarma, sujuk döner was also introduced in Turkey in late 1990s.
Kofta:Kofta is a Middle Eastern and South Asian meatball or meatloaf. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat — usually beef or lamb — mixed with spices and/or onions. The vegetarian variety like lauki kofta, shahi aloo kofta are popular in India. The meat is often mixed with other ingredients such as rice, Bulgur, vegetables, or eggs to form a smooth paste. Koftas are sometimes made with fish or vegetables rather than red meat, especially in India. They can be grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked or marinated, and may be served with a rich spicy sauce. Variations occur in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Balkans and South Asia. In Pakistan, Koftas are made of beef and chicken. Nargisi kofta with eggs are also very popular in Pakistan. According to a 2005 study done by a private food company, there were 291 different kinds of kofta in Turkey, where it is very popular. In Arab countries, kufta is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders. Early recipes (included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks) generally concern seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized balls, and glazed with egg yolk and sometimes saffron. This method was taken to the west and is referred to as gilding, or endoring. Many regional variations exist, notable among them the unusually large Iranian Kufteh Tabrizi, having an average diameter of 20 cm (8 in).
Koftas in South Asian cuisine are normally cooked in a spicy curry and sometimes with whole boiled eggs. These kofta dishes are very popular with South Asian families and are widely available from many Pakistani and Indian restaurants. When hard-boiled egg are encased in a layer of the spicy kofta meat, the result is called Nargisi kofta. The British dish Scotch egg is inspired from Nargisi kofta. In Bengal, a region of East India, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat.

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