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Khash (dish)

Khash (Armenian: խաշ; Azerbaijani: xaş Georgian: ხაში khashi), Kale Pache (Persian: کله پاچه‎; Turkish: Kelle Paça), Pacha (Arabic: باجة‎; Bulgarian: пача, Bosnian: pače) is a dish of boiled cow's head (and sometimes the feet). It is a traditional dish in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Formerly a nutritious winter food, it is now considered a delicacy, and is enjoyed as a festive winter meal, usually by a company of women and men who sit around in a table, early in the morning.

Khash is especially popular among Caucasian countries. According to Mark Hay "In places like Armenia, Georgia, northern Iran, and the Caucasus regions of Russia, khash is something of an early morning hangover cure and commercial commodity. But in Azerbaijan, it is far more rare, almost sacred." [1]

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 Azerbaijan or Georgia.


According to Armenian sources the name originates from the Armenian verb "khashél" (Armenian: խաշել), which means "to boil."[2] The dish, initially called "khashoy", is mentioned by a number of medieval Armenian authors, e.g. Grigor Magistros (11th century), Mkhitar Heratsi (12th century), Yesayi Nchetsi (13th century), etc.[2] According to Azerbaijani sources the name originates from Turkic tribes.The historian Faig Sumer also argues for Turkic kinship with Seljugs tribes specifically, in his book "Oguzlar", several times pointed that the Seljugs ate "tutmaj"(dish of arishte and bean), "khangal" (watery khangal and leaf changal), "gurza", "dushbere", "khashil", "horra" and other foods made of four.[3] The above mentioned dishes are mainly prepared in winter. Also according to traveler Mark Hay in his observation "Even those who almost never eat it or consciously avoid it still admit that it’s perhaps one of the most important national foods, harkening as it does back to national memories of lumbering Turkic nomads roughing it in the mountains". . The Persian name Kale Pacha literally translates as head and shank which are the central ingredients in a variant of this dish.


File:Azerbaijani khash.jpg
Azerbaijani khash

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 and stomach (tripe) may also be used. The feet 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, garlic, lemon 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, pickles, radishes, cheese, and fresh greens such as cress. The meal is almost always accompanied by vodka (preferably mulberry vodka) and mineral water.

Kale Pache

File:Khash 1.jpg
Kale Pache In Tehran

Kale Pache or Kaleh Pacheh (Persian: کله‌پاچه‎) is a version of Khash made with a sheep's entire head and its hooves.[4] The dish is traditional to Azerbaijan[5] and Iran[4] Usually consumed as a breakfast soup,[4] it includes lamb's head (including brain, eyes and tongues) as well as hooves,[6] and is seasoned with lemon and cinnamon.[4] To prepare Kaleh Pacheh, the heads and feet of sheep are collected, cooked and treated as per the recipe.[7] Kaleh pacheh is almost always only served from three in the morning until sometime after dawn, and specialty restaurants (serving only kaleh pacheh) are only open during those hours.[8]

"Kaleh pacheh" is a Persian word which translates to "head shank".

In Arab countries

Pacha (Persian term), is a traditional Iraqi dish made from sheep's head, trotters and stomach; all boiled slowly and served with bread sunken in the broth.[9] The cheeks and tongues are considered the best parts. Many people prefer not to eat the eyeballs which could be removed before cooking.[10] The stomach lining would be filled with rice and lamb and stitched with a sewing thread (Arabic: كيبايات‎).[11]

The dish is known in Kuwait, Bahrain and other Persian Gulf countries as Pacha (پاچة) too. A variation of that is found in other Arab countries such as in Egypt and is known as Kawari' (Arabic: كوارع‎) and in Israel it is still eaten by Iraqi Jews

Boiled sheep's head is also known to be a traditional western Norwegian food.

In Albania

A variation of the dish is traditionally popular in Albania. It is called "paçe" and it is common throughout the country. Paçe is made with a sheep's, pig's or any cattle's head, boiled until meat comes off easily. It is then stewed with garlic, onion, black pepper, and vinegar. Sometimes a little flour is added to thicken the stew. It makes a hot and hearty winter stew.


In medieval Armenian medical textbook "Relief of Fevers" (1184) khash is described as a dish with healing properties, e.g., against snuffle; it is recommended to eat it while drinking wine.[12] In case of ailment khash from the legs of yeanling is advised.[13]

In the Caucasus, Khash is often seen as a food to be consumed in the mornings after a party as it is known to battle hangovers (especially by men) and eaten with a "hair of the dog" vodka chaser.[14]

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. Even the toasts are part of the ritual. They start with a "Good Morning" (Armenian: Բարի լույս bari luys) 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 Stories

Legends abound about the origins of khash, but one of the most popular is that the dish passed from the poor to the tables of the rich. The best cuts of meat would be given to the masters, and the rest, the offal and trotters, would be left for the poor. According to one tale, the khan was passing a hut one day when he spotted a pot simmering on a fire. A seductive aroma hung in the air. The khan called his subject and began to ask him about his cooking. Instead of explaining, the poor man invited the khan to sit at his table. The khan ate the khash with relish. When word spread far and wide of how the khan sat at a poor man’s table and ate khash, the dish became a favorite with all classes.

A story goes that famous cellists Mstislav Rostropovich used to love Azerbaijani khash and as a joke wanted to establish "Rostropovich’s Khash party" [15]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Hrachia Adjarian, Armenian Etymological Dictionary, v. 2, 1973, page 346
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d King, Bart (2010). The Big Book of Gross Stuff. Gibbs Smith. p. 243. ISBN 1-4236-0746-5. 
  5. ^ Elliott, Mark (2010). Azerbaijan with Excusrsions to Georgia. Trailblazer. p. 353. ISBN 978-1-905864-23-2. 
  6. ^ Edelstein, Sari (2009). Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality, and Nutrition Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 236. ISBN 0-7637-5965-1. 
  7. ^ Field, Henry (1939). Contributions to the anthropology of Iran, Volume 2. Chicago Natural History Museum. p. 559. 
  8. ^ *
  9. ^ "Food in Iraq - Iraqi Cuisine - popular, dishes, diet, common meals, customs". 2001-04-06. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  10. ^ "Assyrian Restuarant (Sic) in Chicago Reminds Iraqis of Home". 2005-08-28. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  11. ^ "Little Shedrak's Pacha (Lamb's Head) - Chicago Area - Chowhound". Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  12. ^ Mkhitar Heratsi, "Relief of Fevers", Ch. 6
  13. ^ Mkhitar Heratsi, "Relief of Fevers", Ch. 10
  14. ^ Elliott, Mark (2010). Azerbaijan with Excursions to Georgia. Trailblazer. p. 356. ISBN 978-1-905864-23-2. 
  15. ^,468/

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