In Armenia, you can encounter dishes based on aveluk (“rumex crispus”), also known as wild sorrel. This plant grows in the mountainous regions of Armenia and has a sour, slightly bitter taste. Aveluk is typically harvested during the spring months and then dried. Young aveluk leaves are harvested, excluding the flowering stem, as it is not too bitter. Fresh aveluk leaves are quite bitter, so no one eats them raw. However, during the drying process, fermentation occurs, which pleasantly changes the taste.
Braids of aveluk are traditionally woven by Armenian women and can be very long, sometimes up to four times the height of the woman preparing them. After braiding, the strands are hung in a shaded, windy place until they dry. This dried aveluk can be stored for a long time and used in dishes throughout the year. You can find these braids of wild sorrel, for instance, at the stalls of small vendors in the mountains, and in Yerevan, you can reliably find them at the GUM market.
In Armenian cuisine, aveluk is considered a delicacy. It symbolically connects Armenians with their land, as the plant is harvested directly from the wild.
In restaurants, you can find aveluk salad or soup, but it’s also used in savory pies. Dried aveluk is soaked overnight in water to rehydrate before use. After boiling, it is drained and the liquid is squeezed out as much as possible. For the salad, garlic and walnuts are added, chopped finely and mixed with aveluk. Spices such as red pepper and salt are added. The salad is dressed with a mixture of lemon juice or pomegranate molasses and olive oil. It’s usually served cold and can be garnished with additional walnuts or pomegranate seeds.
I had the opportunity to taste the wild sorrel salad at the Tavern Yerevan Riverside restaurant in Yerevan. One serving cost 1,200 AMD, which is approximately 2.80 EUR. The taste of wild sorrel is intriguing and quite non-traditional. However, I’m glad I had the opportunity to taste wild sorrel prepared in this way.
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