Khash – The Legend of the Famous Armenian Dish

Khash – The Legend of the Famous Armenian DishIn the ancient times, many centuries or thousands of years ago, in one country lived a king. He loved good and nourishing food: he could even be considered a gourmet.

From his chefs, he demanded various dishes, new ones every single day. Sometimes, the king sent his chefs to neighboring countries so that they gained experience and learned new recipes.

A new palace in the mountains was built for the king. He liked everything about the palace and said that he would immediately move there.

On such an occasion, a feast was organized for the nobles. The cooks were ordered to prepare a multitude of new dishes. On the assigned day, the nobles gathered at the new palace. The cooks slaughtered a calf and asked the king:

“What should we do with the head and limbs of the calf?”

“Throw them into the gorge, let the predators eat on the occasion of my relocation,” laughed the king.

The cooks did so and proceeded on to prepare a feast for the king and the noblemen…

The king slept well in the new place that was filled with fresh mountain air. He dreamed of feasts, new dishes, guests, and his new palace. All night long, he seemed to have felt some kind of a new, wonderful smell…

The king woke up, stretched sweetly and sniffed, remembering the unusual aroma.

“This is the aroma from the dream, it is real! What is that new thing my cooks have come up with?”

The king clothed himself and went to the huge throne hall of the palace. The courtiers have already been awaiting their ruler. Anticipating a new pleasure, the king sat down on his throne. The cooks one by one presented the king with the breakfast dishes and placed them onto the large table.

The king sniffed meticulously and shook his head. It was all wrong: he remembered the smell of the dish that he had been inhaling all night!

“Was it a dream?” said the king, “Where is that very dish, where is it?” shouted he angrily.

“Everything is here,” the chef said in surprise, “Everything we have cooked during the night.”

The king impatiently signaled the chef to follow him to his bedroom.

“Smell the air,” he ordered, “Can you sense it? It is still here.”

“Yeees,” said the cook in surprise, “But, your grace, we did not cook this dish.”

The king went to the balcony.

“The smell is here too,” said the king.

“I’ll find out where the smell comes from,” hurriedly pronounced the chef and ran out of the palace. He ordered his assistants to take a pan and follow him.

“The smell comes from the gorge,” said the chef confidently. The strange aroma indeed originated from the gorge…

On the day when the chef’s assistants threw the calf’s limbs into the gorge, a shepherd was roaming there. He took the limbs – the gift of the heavens – thanked the Almighty, and proceeded on to prepare his dinner.

This gift was very fortunate since the shepherd hadn’t eaten anything good for a long time: only greens, berries, and a little dry lavash (Armenian white bread).

He then spent an entire day on thoroughly cleaning, washing, and cutting into pieces what had fallen to him from heaven.

In the evening, he put a pot with his dinner on a bonfire.

The shepherd cooked his lunch all night. In the morning, his food became thick and aromatic.

“It’s time…” said the shepherd. He took a bowl and some dry lavash out of his bag. He crumbled a piece of lavash into the bowl, chopped some garlic, poured it all into the bowl, and covered it with the remaining lavash.

“Let the lavash sodden and the dish stay warm,” said the shepherd.

The shepherd soon took a piece off of the lavash, slightly exposed the bowl, took a little food from it with the small lavash piece, and put it in his mouth.

“Wow,” the shepherd sniffled, eating with pleasure.

“So, what are you eating?” menacingly asked an unknown voice. The shepherd raised his head: in front of him stood the chef.

“Khash… (“cooked” in Armenian)” the shepherd mumbled.

“Khash…” repeated the cook. The shepherd nodded, swallowing a piece stuck in his throat, and pulled the bowl towards him.

“Where from?” The cook asked sternly.

“Eh…” the shepherd drawled, “Yesterday, God sent me the head and limbs of a calf…”

“So, this is what we’ve thrown away mistakenly. This is royal food, I confiscate it,” said the chef, nodding to his assistants.

The assistants hurriedly unloaded the contents of the shepherd’s pan into the royal pan, and the whole procession quickly ran to the palace.

“It’s good that I have managed to pour myself a bowl,” sighed the shepherd, taking out the leftovers of the khash with the lavash.

The chef carried the pot to the palace’s kitchen and put it on a fire to warm it up. The cooks crumbled lavash and chopped garlic into the royal plate, just like the shepherd did: the cooks saw how he had made the dish. The contents of the pan were then poured into a royal tureen and taken to the hall to the king.

The chef placed a royal plate in front of the king and poured the khash into it.

“What is this dish?” asked the king.

“Khash,” answered the cook.

“How do you eat it?”

“With hands,” suggested the chef, showing how in the air.

The king ate and ate, demanding more and more until the plate remained empty.

“Ooofff…” pronounced the king with pleasure, stroking his belly, “I’m full.”

“It would be nice if we repeated this tomorrow,” drawled the king, looking at the chef.

“Not tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow,” said the cook.

“Why?”

“This dish needs to be cooked for a long time or it won’t be tasty,” replied the cook flatteringly.

“Yes, maybe it’s true, it has been cooked all night, and maybe all day…” the king said dreamily.

“Yes…” said the chief cook after returning to the kitchen, “We’ve barely done it.” Needless to say, he didn’t know how to prepare khash.

“I know how,” said his young assistant confidently, “In our village, it is the food of the poor.”

“Uh … shut up,” shouted the cook, “Just cook and be quiet. It’s not good to eat the food of the poor for the king.”

Since then, the king would eat khash and no longer allow to throw any cattle limbs into the gorge.

“The predators have no use for it, they can get food themselves,” the king smirked.

Since then, all the rich people of that country – which until now is called Armenia – have followed the example of the king.

Karin Andreas



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