Khash (Armenian: խաշ, Azerbaijani: xaş, Georgian: ხაში), Kale Pache (Persian: کله پاچه; Turkish: Kelle Paça), Pacha (Arabic: باجة; Bulgarian: пача, Bosnian: pače) is a dish of boiled cow or sheep's head (and often the feet). It is a traditional dish in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Mongolia, 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.
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.
The name originates from the Armenian verb "khashél" (Armenian: խաշել), which means "to boil." 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. The Persian name Kale Pacha literally translates as head and shank which are the central ingredients in a variant of this dish.
|This section does not cite any references (sources). (December 2014)|
Khash remains a purist meal with great parsimony in ingredients. The main ingredient in khash is cow's feet (known in Armenian as votner), 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 or Kaleh Pacheh (Persian: کلهپاچه) is a version of Khash made with a sheep's entire head and its hooves. The dish is traditional to Azerbaijan and Iran Usually consumed as a breakfast soup, it includes lamb's head (including brain, eyes and tongues) as well as hooves, and is seasoned with lemon and cinnamon. To prepare Kaleh Pacheh, the heads and feet of sheep are collected, cooked and treated as per the recipe. 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.
"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. The cheeks and tongues are considered the best parts. Many people prefer not to eat the eyeballs which could be removed before cooking. The stomach lining would be filled with rice and lamb and stitched with a sewing thread (Arabic: كيبايات).
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.
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.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2011)|
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. In case of ailment khash from the legs of yeanling is advised.
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.
- Hrachia Adjarian, Armenian Etymological Dictionary, v. 2, 1973, page 346
- King, Bart (2010). The Big Book of Gross Stuff. Gibbs Smith. p. 243. ISBN 1-4236-0746-5.
- Elliott, Mark (2010). Azerbaijan with Excusrsions to Georgia. Trailblazer. p. 353. ISBN 978-1-905864-23-2.
- Edelstein, Sari (2009). Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality, and Nutrition Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 236. ISBN 0-7637-5965-1.
- Field, Henry (1939). Contributions to the anthropology of Iran, Volume 2. Chicago Natural History Museum. p. 559.
- "Food in Iraq - Iraqi Cuisine - popular, dishes, diet, common meals, customs". Foodbycountry.com. 2001-04-06. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- "Assyrian Restuarant (Sic) in Chicago Reminds Iraqis of Home". Christiansofiraq.com. 2005-08-28. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- "Little Shedrak's Pacha (Lamb's Head) - Chicago Area - Chowhound". Chowhound.chow.com. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- Mkhitar Heratsi, "Relief of Fevers", Ch. 6
- Mkhitar Heratsi, "Relief of Fevers", Ch. 10
- Elliott, Mark (2010). Azerbaijan with Excursions to Georgia. Trailblazer. p. 356. ISBN 978-1-905864-23-2.