The culture of tasty and special meals in Armenia comes from ancient times, but khash has preserved its traditional cooking formula through centuries. Khash – a substantial soup of cows’ feet and stomach enjoyed in Armenia with plenty of garlic, all sorts of pickled vegetables and vodka on top of everything.
To prepare khash a cow’s feet are stripped of hair and scraped off until they turn opaque. Then, the cow’s feet are boiled all night until the ingredients give its juice to water and the flesh flakes off the bones.
Traditionally khash is served in the morning between 7-10 a.m. Centuries ago, when rich people slaughtered animals, they used only meat and threw away the feet (as well as tails and entrails) and it is believed that poor people picked them up, cooked and ate them early in the morning so that nobody could see what they were eating.
Unlike other kinds of Armenian meals khash is served only with limited ingredients, such as garlic, salt, mineral water, greens, radishes, yellow chili peppers, lavash, and vodka, which makes it possible to digest the “feet soup”.
Eating khash requires some sophisticated skills. After adding salt and garlic the meat of feet should be removed from the soup plate, put on another plate and covered with soft lavash. Then dried lavash is crumbed into the broth until it becomes like a sponge. True khash eaters – as they call themselves – eat it with their hands, using lavash for the spoon.
4 Calves’ Hoofs
6 lamb tongues
2 lbs. Calves’ Tripe
2 garlic cloves
salt, pepper, paprika
It is best to buy the feet already cleaned if possible. Otherwise soak feet in boiling water to loosen the shoe, then take off the shoe from each foot. Singe all hairs and scrape off the rest with the edge of a knife. Wash everything very thoroughly. Soak the feet and stomach in water over-night. Each ingredient has to be cooked separately at first.
In a big kettle start cooking the feet with the garlic.
Cut stomach into one inch squares, cook 10 minutes, drain the water. Add fresh water and cook 15 minutes more. Then add to the feet and cook together for 2 hours. When meat separates from foot bones, remove all bones. Also take off scums when formed.
Cook tongues in water until skins can be pulled off easily. Cut up into small pieces. When the feet and stomach is half cooked add the pieces of tongue, and the salt and pepper. When khash is cooked take off some of its fat into a small frying pan add the paprika and cook a few seconds until paprika is melted, then pour back into the khash. Serve the meat with its own broth in soup plates. Add lemon juice or vinegar when eating. This is a meat course.