The Tradition of Khash in Armenia


Armenian Khash with lavash

If in the spring, fall or winter you are invited to a dinner in Armenia at a very early time in the morning then you should know – you are invited to khash. Which means that at the table you will find not just one or two people but an entire “army” of friends, relatives, colleagues, family members, and the meal will be not a steak and wine but a garlicky stew and vodka. By the way, the khash tradition can be enjoyed at home or on a slope of a mountain (mostly Aragats Mountain, where there are numerous khash serving places), in a restaurant or in a hospitable Armenian house in one of the cozy 

What is khash?

Khash is a hot stew which is said to be an old Armenian traditional meal. It is also said that centuries ago khash used to be a meal for the low-class since it was cooked from not-the-best-quality meat. They used the feet of cows, sometimes pigs or sheep or even chicken. They soaked the feet in water for hours, then thoroughly washed them, then boiled all night long. In other words, they boiled them for about 8 hours. Boiling, “khashel” in Armenian, gave the name to the meal itself – “khash”.

Khash Eating Ceremony

Thus, if you have accepted the invitation, you need to get up early, have no breakfast, and not plan any meetings during the day. Choose comfortable clothes and start with a good mood. If the steam and garlic stench make your eyes itchy once you open the door then you are in the right place. After warm greetings you will be seated at the table, bid good morning with a shot of vodka and start the ceremony itself. Khash is served in clay pots to keep it hot. In restaurants they have come up with another method – keep a small fire burning under the khash plate.

After examining the khash table carefully, where you will find salt, crushed garlic, fresh herbs, pickles, radish, lavash, and vodka, you should get to work: first separate meat and bones from the soup, put them in another plate and cover with lavash, put enough salt and garlic into the soup, mix and add dried lavash in small pieces. The soup plate also should be covered with lavash to keep it from going cold. During your meal, carefully raise one side of the lavash cover on the khash plate and use a smaller piece of lavash as a spoon for each intake.

Since khash is not an easily digestible meal, the ceremony is followed by a fragrant tea prepared from herbs from the Armenian mountains. If you wish, you can try gata, an Armenian sweet, with it.

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