Zhengyalov hats (also known as “zhingyalov hats”, “zhengyalav hatz”, “zhangyalov hats”, or “jingalov hats”) is a type of flatbread generously filled with a mixture of finely chopped herbs. It was a staple Armenian food during times of scarcity, such as famines and wars.
Its preparation is not complicated. Unleavened dough is rolled out until it reaches a paper-thin consistency. This flatbread is then filled with a stuffing that can contain 10 to 20 types of chopped wild and cultivated herbs. The base usually consists of lettuce, spinach, atriplex, green beet shoots, stellaria and violet leaves. These are complemented by herbs with a more pronounced flavor such as chervil, nettle or garlic. Some versions also include feta cheese and fried onions, which further enhance the taste.
Once filled, the flatbread is sealed and typically fried for about 10 minutes on a special convex pan called “saj” (“sajin”) or can be baked for a few minutes in a tonir (a type of clay oven).
For me, zhengyalov hats was an excellent breakfast; the filling inside is not dried out and the baked flatbread is crispy. You can find this dish on the menu of some Armenian restaurants and it’s also available in supermarkets. The price is around 900 AMD, which is approximately 2 EUR.
Armenian Michelin Restaurant
This dish is associated with an interesting fact. In the famous Michelin guide, which lists the best restaurants in the world, there are only two awarded Armenian establishments. The first is in Glendale, USA and bears the same name as this herb-filled flatbread – “Zhengyalov Hatz“. The menu has only two items – the herb flatbread and Armenian baklava. Both are perfected to the highest degree. The second establishment is the London restaurant Lusin.
If you come across zhengyalov hats during your travels in Armenia, be sure to try them.