Flavor of Armenian dishes

The RA Ministry of Diaspora, the “Development and Preservation of Armenian Culinary Traditions” NGO and the French-Armenian Professional Training Center organized the “Golden Ladle” Festival-Competition of Armenian Dishes on October 14.

Also attending the festival-competition was RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan. Hakobyan wore her apron and entered the kitchen where the smell of tasty dishes had permeated through the air. She spoke to the cooks and asked what dish each cook was preparing.

“I am very pleased and motivated. Armenian cuisine is an inseparable part of our national culture. Maintaining, preserving and disseminating Armenian culture is the Armenian government’s objective, especially the RA Ministry of Diaspora.

Like Armenians, Armenian dishes are scattered across the globe, and we must gather and bring them together. The competition of Armenian dishes may serve as an opportunity for cooks to exchange experience and show interesting innovations, but what I am more interested in is not as much the innovation, as much as the revelation of dishes that have been forgotten. We have foreseen to establish a Pan-Armenian Association of Cooks, which will help make all this continuous and be able to engage Armenian cooks living in different corners of the globe in the creation of tasty Armenian dishes. There will be no losers in this competition, but what will “win”  is the flavor of Armenian dishes,” RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan said.

President of the “Development and Preservation of Armenian Culinary Traditions” NGO Sedrak Mamulyan told everyone about how the idea of holding the festival-competition was born.

“I asked RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan to help solve issues related to gathering Armenian dishes abroad. The minister liked the idea and proposed to organize a festival- competition. Hranush Hakobyan and I shared the same desires  since holding a “Golden Ladle” competition is part of my organization’s program. We also intended to establish a Pan-Armenian Culinary Academy, but we listened to Hranush Hakobyan’s advice, and I think it was right, and decided to create a Pan-Armenian Association of Cooks, which will provide the opportunity to solve the issues facing Armenian cuisine as a nation. Many nations would dream of having the culinary heritage and human resources that Armenians have, but Armenian cuisine is not presented well abroad, and we are the ones to blame for that. We have done something wrong.

I would like to express gratitude to RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan and Head of the Department for Armenian Communities of the CIS at the RA Ministry of Diaspora Andranik Arshakyan for supporting our organization. We combined efforts, and the result is the competition during which we saw very interesting dishes.

There has never been such a gathering of dishes in Armenia. Now I am sure that by gathering all these dishes, Armenian cuisine may find its worthy place in international cuisine,” Sedrak Mamulyan mentioned.

The Armenian cooks from different Armenian provinces and abroad showed their capabilities and presented dishes with unique and interesting solutions, including salads, dolma, a dish with lamb meat and many other appetizing dishes that not only the jury members, but all attendees had the chance to taste and rate. Many even tried to guess the ingredients that had been used so that they could prepare those dishes later.

Head of “Shanson” Restaurant in Krasnoyarsk Karen Manasyan was among the contestants. What struck everyone’s eye were the several medals on Karen Manasyan’s chest, which we are used to seeing on athletes. Manasyan said he had received those medals during different culinary competitions.

“At our restaurant, we present Armenian cuisine and mainly serve Armenian dishes. The dishes prepared on the fire, including kebab and types of barbecue, are in high demand. I received the offer to participate in the competition from the RA Ministry of Diaspora. I am not participating to amaze people with my culinary skills, but to learn. I have not been in Armenia for a long time, but am aware that Armenian cooks headed by Mr. Mamulyan have found the ingredients of Armenian dishes that had been forgotten,” Karen Manasyan said.

Manasyan prepared a salad called “Lark Farm” the ingredients of which included different colors of pepper, chicken breast, onions, lime, as well as a special sauce made from pomegranate syrup and red wine.

Manasyan also prepared dolma from calf meat by using spices from a site in Armenia, served it with yogurt and garlic and mentioned that the last two had to be served with the dolma made from shrubs.

The jury members also tasted salmon that was filled with pepper, mushrooms and different types of vegetables and prepared in tomato sauce.

Johannes Fahradian is an individual cook from London. He receives invitations to prepare dishes from individuals and different organizations, and he is the one preparing dishes at different kinds of events organized by Armenian associations in England.

Since he was born in Iran, he prepares Armenian and Iranian dishes which, as the cook says, are very similar.

“I received the invitation to participate in the competition from Lili Adamyan of Armenia and Chair of the Armenian Relief Society Janet Martirosian. I am happy to be here because it is very interesting for me. I prepared a salad with spinach and dolma with shrubs and calf meat, which Armenians in London love to eat, as well as salmon with a special sauce,” the cook said.

The cook said the secret of preparing tasty dishes was in his hands. He also said it was not by chance that Iranian-Armenians said “don’t hurt your hands” when they thank the person preparing a tasty dish.

U.S.-based Susanna Khalatyan works for Clasica Gold boiler company and says the company is considered the world’s best boiler-producing company.

“I was lucky to meet with RA Minister of Diaspora in the United States. We had a great conversation. Mrs. Hakobyan was very interested in my work, offered me to visit Armenia and, why not, even present our company’s boilers there.

The dishes that I prepare are not too unique in terms of design, but they are very healthy because they are prepared in boilers with the highest technologies that preserve all vitamins and the natural flavor of foods.

We have decided to organize a show in Armenia since our boilers are not on sale and are only sold through intermediaries.

I presented the traditional Armenian dolma. They say dolma with shrubs and cabbage can’t be prepared in just one boiler because the tastes mix. I prepared the dolma in one boiler and everyone was convinced that the tastes had been preserved. By the way, I prepared it without water and vegetable oil. This means that all dishes prepared in our boiler are naturally prepared without any preservatives.

We place emphasis on a healthy lifestyle. A good design still doesn’t mean that the food is healthy. As they say, food makes a person sick and cures him at the same time,” Susanna said.

Lusine Abrahamyan

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