English- Armenian traditional ghapama
Ghapama- a traditional Autumnal dish consisting of a pumpkin stuffed to the brim with rice, nuts, raisins, apricots and other trimmings depending on personal preferences is very Armenian. It is so very Armenian that Harout Pamboukjian, an Armenian-American pop singer who is such a transnational treasure that we would enshrine him in gold and cast his profile on coins if we could, has an entire song dedicated to the dish called “Hey Jan Ghapama.” The song is wholly about this gourd of wonder, detailing bringing a ripe pumpkin home, chopping up ingredients and putting it in the oven and having 100 people, including various relatives and sister-in-laws and cousins show up to eat it (because that’s how good it is). So if you speak Armenian, listening to it will practically give you the recipe. The problem with that is, generally speaking, this song comes on towards the middle of end of weddings or other massive celebrations when the liquor and sweat have been flowing for hours, rendering you full of joy and devoid of any proper coordination whatsoever. Everyone knows the chorus. Everyone will sing it with you and at you. When you’re that happy, you’d sing about a stuffed pumpkin, too. The ghapama process is pretty simple, and makes a colorful and unique addition to any fall Thanksgiving table. The beauty with this particular dish, made during October and November is not only its warmth (especially helpful considering how cold Armenia tends to get in the fall and winter) but how the intensity of the different flavors never overwhelm, but compliment each other in every bite. Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with dried fruit, butter, cinnamon and honey mixed in with white, steaming rice. It’s also a very flexible dish. You can use other gourds if you wish, or change up the ingredients to fit your tastes, switching out raisins for cranberries for example, or adding pecans instead of walnuts. Think of it as a gigantic, sweet dolma made with a pumpkin instead of grape leaves.
Armenian traditional ghapama