Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

8.8.17

Six interesting facts about Armenia.

1. Armenia has very nice views.

2. Archaeological surveyors found the world's earliest known leather shoe there in 2010.

3. An Armenian edged out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan in an 'entertainer of the century poll' in 1998*.

4. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion thanks to apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew who preached there circa AD40, possibly due to the nice views.

5. Armenia's coat of arms bears an image of Mt Ararat, traditionally the place where Noah's Ark landed.

6. 'Armenian potatoes'. (See below.)

*

Armenian potatoes is one of the best side dishes you've never heard of. Or maybe you have. Maybe you cook it every week.

But I'd never heard of it until I came across the recipe in an ancient cookbook. It takes old potatoes, dices them, turbocharges them with garlic and pairs the slow, sweet burn of paprika with the acid tang of tomato. Then it all fires up in the oven into a crunch-laden flavour explosion that will make you forget what the main event was.

Armenian potatoes.

Ingredients
One kilogram of old potatoes. They have to be old for some reason to do with chemistry or the water content. Or maybe all potatoes are old in Armenia because they have to travel a long way across the Caucasus Mountains from Russia. I don't know.
Tablespoon of oil
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
One cup water
One teaspoon salt
One teaspoon paprika
Six cloves garlic
One cup parsley, chopped
Pepper

Method
Peel the old potatoes and cut them into small dice. Chop or mince the garlic. Tumble the chopped potatoes and garlic through the oil and then the tomato paste to coat; then toss through the salt, paprika, parsley and pepper. Place in a casserole and add the water.

Bake in a moderate oven for about three quarters of an hour, then serve alongside rare steaks and pretend you are a dinner guest at the Gugark Hotel in Vanadzor.

*Charles Aznavour.

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