Azerbaijani cuisine

Azerbaijani cuisine

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Azerbaijani people


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Azerbaijani cuisine refers to the cooking styles and dishes with origins in the nation of Azerbaijan and prepared by Azerbaijani people around the world. Throughout the centuries, Azerbaijani cuisine has been influenced by the foods of different cultures, though at the same time, it remained distinctive and unique. Many foods that are indigenous to the country can now be seen in the cuisines of other cultures. For the Azerbaijanis, food is an important part of the country's culture and is deeply rooted in the history, traditions and values of the nation.

Out of 11 climate zones known in the world, the Azerbaijani climate has nine.[1] This contributes to the fertility of the land, which in its turn results in the richness of the country’s cuisine. It is famous for an abundance of vegetables and greens used seasonally in the dishes. Fresh herbs, including mint, coriander, dill, basil, parsley, tarragon, leek, chive, thyme, marjoram, green onion and watercress, are very popular and often accompany main dishes. The Caspian Sea is home to many edible species of fish, including the sturgeon, Caspian salmon, kutum, sardines, grey mullet, and others. Black caviar from the Caspian Sea is one of Azerbaijan’s best known delicacies well sought after in other parts of the world, including former Soviet countries.

The main courses of Azerbaijani cuisine are over 30 kinds of soups, including those prepared from plain yogurt. One of the most reputed dishes of Azerbaijani cuisine, however, is plov from saffron-covered rice, served with various herbs and greens, a combination totally distinctive from Uzbek plovs. Azerbaijani cuisine includes more than 40 different plov recipes. Other second courses include a wide variety of kebabs and shashliks, including lamb, beef, chicken, and fish (baliq) kebabs. Sturgeon, a common fish, is normally skewered and grilled as a shashlik, being served with a tart pomegranate sauce called narsharab. Dried fruits and walnuts are used in many dishes. The traditional condiments are salt, black pepper, sumac, and especially saffron, which is grown domestically on the Absheron Peninsula.

Black tea is the national beverage, and is drunk after food is eaten. It is also a welcome beverage, often accompanied by fruit preserves.[2]


Light snacks

Light snacks of the Azerbaijani cuisine.

The Azerbaijani cuisine has a number of light snacks and side dishes to open or accompany the main meals: a plate of aromatic green leaves called goy, pieces of chorek (bread), choban (a tomato and cucumber salad), and sometimes white cheese or qatik (sour yoghurt).

Cold snacks are generally served separately from drinks.

Main dishes

Qutab, made from thinly rolled dough that may be cooked briefly on a convex griddle.
Azerbaijani dolma
Azerbaijani dushbara-Azerbaijani: düşbərə

Main dishes may include a selection of the following:

Name Description
Balıq Fish, which usually means sturgeon, normally skewered and grilled as a kebab, and served with a tart sour-plum sauce.
Dolma The traditional recipe calls for minced lamb mixed with rice and flavoured with mint, fennel and cinnamon, and wrapped in vine leaves (yarpaq dolması) or cabbage leaves (kələm dolması), but most restaurants offering dolma tend to serve up stuffed tomato, sweet pepper and aubergine. There are also sour sweet cabbage dolma (turş şirin kələm dolması) and fish dolma (balıq dolması).
Dushbara Small dumplings stuffed with minced lamb and herbs, served in broth.
Lavangi A casserole of chicken stuffed with walnuts and herbs. A speciality of the Talysh region in southern Azerbaijan, but very difficult to find common in restaurants.
Lyulya kabab A mixture of minced lamb, herbs and spices squeezed around a skewer and barbecued, often served with lavash (thin sheets of unleavened bread).
Qutab A sort of pancake turnover stuffed with minced lamb, cheese or spinach.
Tika kabab Chunks of lamb marinated in a mixture of onion, vinegar and pomegranate juice, impaled on a large skewer and grilled on the barbecue. In Russian, called шашлык, from Turkic shishlyk (literally, "for skewer").
Qovurma Pieces of mutton or lamb on the bone (blade chops) stewed with onions, tomatoes, and saffron.[3] There is also sabzi qovurma, a lamb stew with herbs.
Sogan dolmasi The term dolma covers a variety of stuffed vegetable dishes, widespread in the Middle East and Mediterranean area.

Onion dolma are a tasty winter alternative to stuffed aubergines, tomatoes and peppers.[4]


Name Description
Piti The national soup of Azerbaijan made from pieces of mutton on the bone cooked with vegetables in a broth; prepared and served in individual crocks.
Kufta bozbash A pea soup with lamb meatballs and boiled potatoes. The meatballs in kufta bozbash are large, hearty and made of minced lamb and rice, sometimes with a zesty dried plum inside.
Sulu khingal Lamb soup with noodles
Toyuq shorbasi Chicken soup
Dovga A yoghurt (matsoni) based soup with sorrel, spinach, rice, dried peas, and small meatballs made from ground mutton; served hot or cold depending on the season;[5]
Ovdukh A cold soup based on a matsoni–water mixture poured over sliced cucumbers, chopped boiled meat, quarters of hard-boiled egg, and greens (dill, coriander, basil, sometimes also mint and tarragon);[6]
Dogramach Same as ovdukh, but without the meat;[6]
Bolva Made with sour milk.


Plov being prepared in a qazan

Plov is one of the most widespread dishes in Azerbaijan, with more than 40 different recipes.[2] Plovs have different names depending on the main ingredient(s) accompanying rice:

Name Ingredients
Kourma plov Mutton, onion
Chilov plov Bean plov with fish
Sabzi qovurma plov Mutton
Toyug plov Chicken
Shirin plov Dried fruits
Syudli plov Rice cooked in milk
Sheshryanch plov Six-color plov, eggs cooked "sunny side up" on a bed of fried green and white onions[5]

Azerbaijani plov consists of three distinct components, served simultaneously but on separate platters: rice (warm, never hot), gara – fried meat, dried fruits, eggs, or fish prepared as an accompaniment to rice, and aromatic herbs. Rice is not mixed with the other components even when eating plov.[7]


Pistachio halva

Typical Azeri desserts are sticky, syrup-saturated pastries such as pakhlava and halva. The latter, a layer of chopped nuts sandwiched between mats of thread-like fried dough, is a speciality of Sheki in North-West Azerbaijan. Other traditional pastries include shakarbura (crescent-shaped and filled with nuts), peshmak (tube-shaped candy made out of rice, flour and sugar) and girmapadam (pastry filled with chopped nuts).

However, sweets like this are generally bought from a pastry shop and eaten at home or on special occasions such as weddings and wakes. The usual conclusion to a restaurant meal is a plate of fresh fruit, plums, cherries, apricots, grapes, or whatever is in season.

In March 2009, Azerbaijani bakers achieved an entry in the CIS book of records for baking the biggest and heaviest pakhlava in the CIS, weighing about 3 tons. More than 7 thousand eggs, 350 kg of nuts, 20 kg of almonds, 350 kg of sugar, and the same amount of flour was used in the preparation of the pastry.[8]

Name Description
Samani halva Samani halva, made from malted wheat, can best be described as a spicy, gooey, chewy treat.One samani halva tradition in Azerbaijan is to make halva communally, using flour from seven different homes.[9]
Shekerbura Shekerbura (şəkərbura) are a popular Azerbaijani sweet pastry, filled with ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts.

Shekerbura, shor gogal and bakhlava are all eaten in Baku at the Novruz spring holiday.[10]


Salyan çörəyi (tandoor bread)

Tandoor bread is a type of bread baked in a clay oven called a Tandoor.[11][12]


Black tea is Azerbaijan's national drink


An Azerbaijani sherbet (Azerbaijani: şərbət) is a sweet cold drink made of fruit juice mixed or boiled with sugar, often perfumed with rose water. Sherbets (not to be confused with sorbet ices) are of Iranian origin and they may differ greatly in consistency, from very thick and jam-like (as in Tajik cuisine) to very light and liquid, as in Azerbaijan.[13] Sherbets are typically prepared in the following natural flavors:

  • Lemon[14]
  • Pomegranate
  • Strawberry
  • Cherry
  • Apricot
  • Mint sherbet[14]

Mineral water

Locally made brands of bottled water include the following:[15]

Brand Origin Originating area
Badamlı Badamli, Nakhchivan
Sirab Sirab, Nakhchivan
Şollar Şollar village north-east
Tamiz gazh su
Qax Qakh district north[16]

See also

  • Azerbaijani wine


External links

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