Khorovats: Armenian Grilled Meat

Khorovats is the name of the Armenian style of grilling meat. It is one of the most widespread elements of the Armenian cuisine, you will encounter it both in restaurants and at family celebrations. The word “khorovats” in Armenian means grilled meat, derived from the verb “khorovel” (to grill).

Armenian grilled meat khorovats
Armenian grilled meat khorovats

In Armenia, pork is most commonly used for khorovats, less often lamb, beef, or chicken. Even offal can be grilled. The meat preparation is simple. It is cut into pieces, mixed with a large amount of chopped and mashed onion, salt, spices and sometimes yogurt or tomato paste is used. It is then marinated for a long time (usually from two to twelve hours).

The marinated meat is skewered and grilled over charcoal on an Armenian grill called mangal. Large pieces of meat should always be placed in the center of the skewer so that they are in the hottest part of the grill. Skewers should be placed next to each other without gaps to retain the heat from the charcoal.

When the meat is cooked, it is taken off the skewers directly onto lavash bread and served. The plate can be covered with lavash bread on top to keep the dish warm. However, this method of covering is not very common in restaurants, as it’s better for the guest to see the main “star” of this dish – the meat. The meat is best eaten immediately, as once removed from the skewers, juice can start to leak from it, making the meat potentially drier. Meat and lavash are often accompanied by many aromatic herbs. A very common side dish is also vegetables grilled again using the khorovats method.

I had the opportunity to taste meat prepared this way in many places in Armenia. In restaurants, you often come across very lean cuts of meat, such as tenderloin or beef sirloin. However, they seemed unnecessarily “dry” to me. I enjoyed the slightly fatty meat the most, the pork ribs were excellent. After all, pork ribs are reportedly among the most popular types of meat for khorovats among Armenians.

For grilled pork ribs using the khorovats method, I definitely recommend the Lavash restaurant in Yerevan. One portion here cost 4,200 AMD (approx. 10 EUR) and the meat was absolutely perfect.

Bon appétit!

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