: Խաշ, Georgian
: ხაში,) is a traditional dish in Armenia
, originating in the Shirak
region. Formerly a nutritious winter food for the rural poor, it is now considered a delicacy
, and is enjoyed as a festive winter meal, usually by a company of men.
Modern day convention in Armenia dictates that it should be consumed during the month that has an 'r' in its name, thus excluding May, June, July, and August (month names in Armenian are derivatives of the Latin names). No such restriction on khash consumption exists in Georgia. A similar food is called piti in the vicinity of Kars Province, although piti is also made from feet of other livestock, primarily sheep.
Khash remains a purist meal with great parsimony in ingredients. The main ingredient in khash is cow
's feet, although other cow parts, such as the head
) may also be used. The feet (known in Armenian
) are depilated, cleaned, kept in cold water in order to get rid of bad smell, and boiled in water all night long, until the water has become a thick broth and the meat has separated from the bones. No salt or spices are added during the boiling process. The dish is served hot. One may add salt
juice, or vinegar
according to one's tastes. Dried lavash
is often crumbled into the broth to add substance. Khash is generally served with a variety of other foods, such as hot green
and yellow peppers
, and fresh greens
such as cress
. The meal is almost always accompanied by vodka
vodka) and mineral water
Armenian families, when preparing khash themselves at home, generally invite some guests. The latters should have been invited not the day before but many days before because this ceremony is not a simple dinner-party and it requires time to "prepare for it". There is much ritual
involved in khash parties. Many participants abstain from eating the previous evening, and insist upon using only their hands to consume the unusual (and often unwieldy) meal. Because of the potency and strong smell of the meal, and because it is eaten early in the mornings and so often enjoyed in conjunction with alcohol, khash is usually served on the weekend or on holidays
. The guests almost always bring a bottle of vodka which is one of the necessary parts of this great feast. Indeed the hosts have already thought about this detail, but an additional bottle will not be superfluous. Even the toasts
are part of the ritual. They start with a "Good Morning" (Armenian: Բարի լռւյս) quick toast, which is later followed by another quick toast for the hosts. The last one of the three mandatory toasts is for the guests.
Khash is widely lauded for its healing qualities. Its ingredients include various joints of the cow's legs and feet, rich in cartilage
and other connective tissues
. It is widely believed that regular consumption of khash helps heal joint injuries and can even help alleviate or slow down the progress of arthritis
. Anecdotal evidence of the medicinal qualities of khash abounds.