Khashlama: Armenian Stew

Khashlama (from the Armenian “khashel”, meaning “to boil”) is a popular Armenian dish made of meat, potatoes and vegetables, cooked in an aromatic broth flavored with herbs. This hearty meal originates from the mountainous regions of Armenia. Originally, it was a summer dish made from lamb meat, cooked in an underground clay oven called “tonir”.

Over time, the recipe evolved and potatoes became a favorite ingredient. While lamb remains the traditional meat, beef is also acceptable. However, pork or chicken is rarely used. It’s preferable to use tougher cuts of meat, even with bones. Sometimes, you might come across a fish khashlama. Wine or beer can be added to the broth, giving the dish an extra flavor. The meat is slowly cooked for about three hours.

Armenian stew khashlama
Armenian stew khashlama

Khashlama is akin to an Armenian “pot stew”, everything is cooked in one pot. The basic recipe, besides meat, includes potatoes, tomatoes and onions, but every family has its favorite variation. Often, peppers are added, and some don’t skip the eggplant. Recipes can also vary between Armenian regions; for example, in the Gars region, during festivals, weddings or funerals, khashlama is prepared with cabbage as the dominant vegetable, flavored with cinnamon and bay leaves.

Interestingly, the preparation of khashlama is typically a man’s job. The male members of the family actively participate in the meal’s preparation, chopping vegetables, marinating the meat (which is often seared in a pot beforehand to seal in the juices). During this time, they discuss recent events and news. This communal preparation is an integral part of the dish.

I had the opportunity to taste veal khashlama with potatoes and vegetables at the Tavern Yerevan Khorenatsi restaurant. The portion cost 3,800 AMD, which is approximately 9.20 EUR. The meat was tender and easily fell off the bone, with flavors beautifully intertwined.

Bon appétit!

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