The Deliciousness of Khorovats

Prepare your tastebuds

Armenian food consists of many regional dishes that you can find a variation of in other nearby countries.  Any Armenian will proudly boast of borsch, dolma, halva, pakhlava, and lavash, but the joke’s on them.  I highly doubt the Armenians invented any of these food forms.  Rather, there is a lot of overlap amongst a lot of cultures in this region.  However, one food seems to be uniquely Armenian in my book:  Khorovats

Okay, barbecued meat is not that original.  But the way they do it here is pretty cool, and it’s really tasty.  Armenians will ask you if you have tried khorovats.  For your sake, I hope the answer is yes.  It comes in several varieties including pork, chicken, and lamb.  My favorite is pork.  Khorovats is equal opportunity though.  Vegetables are welcome to join in on this party, and they often do.  It’s rare to find a khorovats without ruby red tomatoes and deep-hued eggplants finding a place on the skewers.

Before we get into the how-to section, let’s learn a bit more about khorovats.  The words comes from the verb khorovel, which means, “to barbecue.”  The “ats” ending shows a state of being – it would be equivalent to saying “Barbecued” in English…except that in Armenian it is used as a noun.  I have heard no explanation as to why, but I assume it’s just due to the enormous importance of khorovats in Armenian culture.  Kind of like how Google is now a verb in English.  Just go with it.

As you already know, Armenia has very traditional gender roles.  Men (are supposed to) work and earn money, women raise the children and keep the house.  In the Armenian family a man never cooks anything.  The fact that American men can cook for themselves is baffling and downright confusing to all Armenians.  Khorovats is the exception to this rule.  Men are the only ones allowed to prepare khorovats.  The women won’t touch it with a 15 foot pole.  It is seen as a manly bonding activity.  The women take pride in bragging how good their husband’s khorovats is.  I have been subjected to countless taste tests and the results are in:  Armenian men know what they’re doing.

Khorovats is usually saved for a special occasion of some kind.  Some examples can be weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations.  It’s also done for special guests and also sometimes just randomly to blow off some steam.

Eating it with silverware is a crime.  Instead, you should tear into it with your hands and lavash.

That about covers the rules and traditions.  So, how do you prepare it?  Let’s learn.

Step 1:  Gather wood and chop into manageable pieces

Easier said than done in treeless Gegharkunik Marz

Step 2:  Pile wood between metal ties

Uh Huh!

 

Step 3:  Light fire and let it burn down to coals

Better than propane

 

Step 4:  Place marinated meat on skewers

The lacey flowery thing is optional

 

Step 5:  Set skewers over the coals, resting on the ties

You can hear the fat sizzling

 

Step 6:  Flip em’, fan em’, squirt em’ – Rotate skewers, fan coals if necessary to create more heat, and squirt coals with water if they erupt in flames

The alpha male will surely emerge at this stage, if he hasn't already

 

Step 7:  Sit back and watch for about 30 minutes, repeating step 6 as necessary

If you do Step 7 by the headlights of your Lada Niva, even better (Photo: Morten Germansen)

 

Step 8:  Remove from skewers using lavash.  Take inside and enjoy.

Bari akhorzhak (Bon appetit)

The only part I’m not sure of is the marinade.  There are greens and onions involved, and some kind of liquid, but I’m not sure what exactly.  They marinade the meet for a few hours prior to cooking.  After cooking the meat has a delightful crunchy flavorful coating.  It’s tender, succulent, and delicious.  Your mileage may vary, but there is no doubt that restaurant khorovats is quite inferior to the homemade variety.

Khorovats is one of the best ways to bond with Armenians.  They love it and so do you.  Whenever the word khorovats is uttered, wonderful memories are conjured and hopes for another great meal spring into existence.

The food is almost as good as the experience (Photo: Morten Germansen)

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4 Responses to “The Deliciousness of Khorovats”

  1. Gail Mom Says:

    Sounds yummy! Maybe you should help the Armenians start a khorovats delivery business—you know like Domino’s or Papa John’s.

  2. icenugget Says:

    I feel like the 30 minutes or its free guarantee would quickly put us out of business.

  3. Fletcher Says:

    Great post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am impressed!
    Extremely helpful information specifically the ultimate section 🙂 I maintain such information a lot.
    I was looking for this particular information for a very long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

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