Azerbaijani Cuisine

Modern gourmets are no longer limited by the framework of their national cuisine. Dishes of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Romania, England and other countries are widespread among lovers of tasty and healthy food. Azerbaijani cuisine is distinguished by a rich variety and taste characteristics: spices and herbs, a large number of vegetables and fruits, original combinations of products.

General characteristics of Azerbaijani national cuisine

The geographic location of this country is reflected in the nutrition of the people. The variety of herbs and vegetables used in the preparation of many dishes is proof of this. That is why the food of Azerbaijanis is rich in vitamins, sometimes unusually spicy, spicy, with a taste unusual for residents of central Russia and Europeans.

Azerbaijani cuisine has many distinctive features.

Key features

Dairy and vegetable, flour and sweet, meat and fish dishes are widespread here. A huge amount of herbs used in cooking gives food an amazing, unique aroma and taste.

Azerbaijani chefs cannot do without

  • sumac;
  • saffron;
  • sorrel;
  • green onions;
  • basil;
  • parsley;
  • coriander;
  • cilantro;
  • different peppers;
  • watercress;
  • dill;
  • carnations;
  • celery;
  • leek;
  • cinnamon;
  • mint;
  • tarragon and other greens.

Of meat and fish products, more preference is given to lamb than beef, fish and poultry.

Pork is prohibited here at all, as is the use of alcoholic beverages as ingredients.

Fish is used more often river or Caspian.

Shish kebabs, which are cooked on charcoal in barbecues, occupy a special place in the menu of Azerbaijan. Tandoor dishes are also loved in the mountainous country.

Historical background

Azerbaijani folk cuisine is also interesting because it can become a proof of the country’s past. The main fact is the names of the dishes – many of them have Turkic roots. And in them, gourmets unmistakably guess Iranian notes.

The Sassanids, a dynasty of Persian rulers, formed their own Sassanid state, in the III-IV centuries. BC e. conquered the lands where modern Azerbaijan is located. Later they founded Iran, which influenced the formation of the culture of the peoples they conquered.

In the VII century. followed by the conquest of the land by the Arabs, then – in the XI-XII centuries. – Turks and Mongols. Thus, Islam penetrated the country with its influence on culture, including the rules of nutrition for residents.

In the XVI-XVIII centuries. the lands of Azerbaijan again returned to Iran, and then the state disintegrated into many principalities and khanates.

This allowed the population to create their own cultural traditions. The country’s cuisine was formed independently, depending on regional conditions.

Culinary customs

However, Azerbaijani traditions, despite the differences in the regions, are well traced. For example, unlike other cuisines of the Caucasus, fish is often cooked here, especially red: salmon, sturgeon. It is used to make barbecues on the grill, grill, steamed with the addition of fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices.

Meat is the main ingredient in all southerners’ dishes. Here gourmets give preference to mutton, more often they eat young lambs. And other types of meat are used, trying to take young animals. This is due to the fact that it is mostly cooked on an open fire, the process itself is fast, and the old meat does not have time to become soft and juicy during this time.

Vegetables, herbs, fruits make up half of the serving. They are served both fresh and boiled or fried. Ground fruits are used most of all: asparagus, peas, cabbage, artichokes, beans. Root vegetables are also included in dishes as ingredients, but much less often.

Fish, lamb, herbs are frequent guests at the Azerbaijani feast.

The favorite product of Azerbaijanis is chestnuts. For a long time, they even replaced potatoes on the gourmet table.

And the most important difference of this cuisine can be considered rose petals, which are still actively used in food. They make jam, sweet syrup and sherbet. For making cookies, rose oil is used, which gives the dessert an unusual aroma and charm.

There is very little salt in the food of Azerbaijanis. The taste of the dish is not interrupted by it. But it contains a lot of spicy greens and sour berries – cherry plum, dogwood, unripe grapes. And there are legends about sauces and spices.

Food preparation methods

Most often, Azerbaijani chefs cook food on fire using barbecues, grills and tandoor.

Cooking utensils need special ones. A soup called “Piti” requires a pitcher – a bulky clay pot. Pilaf and other dishes, which include cereals, are cooked in a cauldron, kebabs should be fried in saja – this is a frying pan with a small brazier, and for stewing meat, they take a shallow saucepan called tasse. For cooking the first courses, they often use not a saucepan, but a specially designed cup – kas. Where culinary traditions are sacred, all these types of pots and pans are made of copper – it is believed that this is the only way to achieve the “right” taste of food.

The combinations of ingredients in the composition of the dishes are also surprising. Sweet berries and fruits add sourness and emphasize the taste of meat and fish. A large amount of herbs and spices add flavor and increase appetite.

Traditional dishes

The most common food in Azerbaijan is meat. Snacks, salads, vegetable side dishes make up 2/3 of the daily menu. No dinner or lunch is complete without them.

The inhabitants of this country also love to consume dairy products, the methods of preparation of which will be strange and unusual for Europeans. Sheep and goat milk is widely used.

Products made from flour, drinks and desserts differ from European ones.

The main

Azerbaijanis like to make shish kebabs from meat and fish or to grill food. But this is still referred to as holiday dishes.

For everyday use, meat dishes are more often prepared by adding side dishes. For example, lamb is used to make buglama – stewed with vegetables and spices, lamb giblets fried with potatoes make jyz-byz, and minced meat is used to make delicious meatballs, which are called kyufta.

It is widely used in the pilaf menu. There are more than 50 recipes for its preparation.

The Azerbaijanis also do not bypass soups. They differ in that they include, along with meat ingredients, prunes, chestnuts, and fermented milk products. There are also recipes for first courses with peas, potatoes, rice, noodles.

The drinks here are also different from those that people from other countries are used to seeing on their tables.

For example, compotes are replaced with boiled juices with the addition of spices – khoshab, ovshala, doshab, sherbet, etc.

Even the baked goods are completely different here. There are no traditional yeast dough loaves for us. But pita bread, kyatu with sweet filling will always be served at the table.

Appetizers and salads

Vegetables on the table of an Azerbaijani take pride of place. Coarsely chopped, sprinkled with fermented milk sauces or olive oil, they serve as independent dishes. But bright oriental notes are present in every culinary masterpiece of Azerbaijani cuisine, even if it is a simple cold appetizer.

For example, the omelet, familiar to a European, looks different here, since the hostesses use walnuts, saffron, barberry and a lot of greens as an addition to eggs and milk. It is called kyukyu sabzi and is served cold. The appetizer looks like an open cheesecake pie with a green filling on top.

The original hafta-bedjar vegetable salad will appeal to every gourmet. It is made from white cabbage, fresh tomatoes, pickled eggplants, grated carrots and herbs with spices.

Fisinjan is widespread here. Traditionally, it is made from beets, pomegranates, walnuts and cilantro. There is a variety with beans in some regions.

Ajapsandal is another cold snack. This salad takes pride of place in Georgian, Armenian, and Turkic cuisine, but it originated in Azerbaijan. It is also called a variety of European vegetable sauté.

Bakery products

The oriental table, like the Russian one, is not complete without bread. But this product is also very different from the traditional baked goods familiar to Europeans.

The main products are:

  • felt;
  • juha;
  • churek;
  • pita.

These are all different types of dough products. They differ both in composition and in the method of preparation.

Azerbaijani bread is very different from the one familiar to Europeans.

Felt is baked from puff, thinly rolled dough. It is more suitable for filled pies.

Juha are also thin cakes, but smaller than felt. They are also used instead of casings for meat, fish, ham, cheese or sausage fillings.

For churek, yeast dough is needed, but it should ferment only once. Then the baker forms an elongated oval loaf, sprinkles with sesame seeds on top and bakes in a tandoor – a ceramic oven.

Lavash is the most famous flour product. Yeast-free dough is prepared for him, rolled out into a thin pancake and baked in a tandoor too.

Lavash is eaten like bread, along with hot dishes and snacks. Often the filling is wrapped in it.

Milk

An original cold dish that resembles Slavic okroshka is called ovduh here. The ingredients are fresh cucumber, crushed boiled eggs, herbs, finely chopped boiled beef, garlic. All this is poured with kefir.

Azerbaijanis also love another fermented milk soup called dovga. It can be eaten both cold and hot.

Yama, a milk porridge made from rice with saffron, is often served for breakfast.

Ayran – sour milk according to a unique recipe – is now known all over the world. This is a healthy and tasty product that is prepared from cow or goat milk by fermenting it. Before that, a little salt and water are added to the raw materials.

Beverages

It is impossible to imagine a feast in Azerbaijan without the famous sherbet. To prepare it in the traditional ancient way, the culinary specialist will need a decoction of licorice, rose hips, dogwood and spices.

The modern version of sherbet looks a little different. Now the cook takes ready-made fruit or berry juices, adds sugar, spices and spices from them, cooks, and puts ice cream in a cup of sherbet before serving.

Doshab is also made from juices, but it looks more like a sauce than a drink in consistency. Apricot, mulberry and grape juices boil well, but without added sugar. Doshab is rarely served as a standalone drink, rather as a sauce for appetizers and meat dishes.

Azerbaijanis drink tea every day. There is a whole ceremony associated with this process.

From alcohol, they prefer mulberry brandy, which is made from mulberry fruits. It is aged for several years in oak barrels, which gives the drink a unique woody smell.

Traditional spices

Azerbaijani dishes are fragrant and appetizing not only because during cooking the cook thoughtlessly used spices and spices, adhering to the opinion “the more, the better.” There are strict rules about which additives should be added to a particular dish.

For example, asafoetida, turmeric and coriander will improve the taste of potatoes. These spices are also suitable for legumes. But here ginger, cumin and black pepper will also be appropriate.

Cabbage will become tasty and aromatic if you add fennel, black mustard seed, coriander and cumin to the dish.

Fatty hot dishes require the introduction of turmeric, saffron, shambhala, black mustard and ginger seeds when cooking.

Numerous spices and herbs are held in high esteem in Azerbaijani cuisine.

Hot milk will acquire an unforgettable taste and aroma if you add saffron, cardamom and cinnamon to it. And fermented milk dishes should be seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, fennel and coriander.

Sweet desserts will taste better with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, saffron and ginger. Azerbaijanis traditionally put cardamom, cinnamon and ginger in coffee and tea.

What to try in Azerbaijan

Traveling through this fertile land, every guest should definitely get acquainted with the amazing cuisine of the people inhabiting the country.

Ajapsandal

Despite the fact that in other countries you can also find dishes with a similar name, the real Azerbaijani ajapsandal cannot be confused with any other food.

The ingredients in the snack are stewed eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, white onions, garlic, basil and coriander. Olive oil is used as a salad dressing.

Cold vegetable sauté can be mashed and mashed and spread over a piece of pita bread or churek.

Pilaf

There are more than 200 recipes for this dish, but they all have common features in Azerbaijan. Rice and lamb with spices are cooked in different dishes, mixing everything only in a plate just before serving.

Dolma

This food is similar to Russian cabbage rolls, in which grape or quince leaves are used instead of cabbage. In addition to minced lamb meat, the filling is supplemented with transparent rice and greens. Before serving, gatyg, a fermented milk product, is poured into a plate.

There are more than 10 dolma recipes in Azerbaijan. Housewives can use fish, vegetables or even fruits as filling.

Lula kebab

This is a cutlet, strung on a wooden skewer, cooked over a fire or charcoal, like a shish kebab.

Onions and eggs are not added to minced meat, which is well beaten at the time of cooking. There are recipe options when the kebab is made from vegetables or fish. But the always ready dish is sprinkled with chopped herbs.

Dushbara

These are Azerbaijani small minced lamb dumplings with herbs and spices. The peculiarity is that they are boiled in lamb seed broth. Dumplings are served with broth, flavored with butter and sprinkled with herbs, so dushbara is considered the first dish – soup.

Jyz-byz

Lamb entrails – intestines, liver, heart, spleen, kidneys, lung – are fried in fat tail in a cauldron or saj. Sometimes more potatoes are added. Then sprinkle the giblets with chopped onions and herbs.

Dushbara and gyurza are a kind of dumplings in the Azerbaijani style.

Gyurza

This is another kind of dumplings. But the filling, in addition to minced meat, includes onions fried in lard, tomato paste, spices. The dumplings themselves have an elongated shape with a cute pigtail at the junction of the edges of the dough.

Bozbash

Fat thick soup made from lamb or beef will surprise many guests of the East. Besides meat, it has many other ingredients. There are potatoes or chestnuts, eggplants or zucchini, chickpeas, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. Traditionally, apples and mint are placed in the soup – this adds spice to the dish.

Dovga

This is a cold soup, which includes vegetables and a lot of herbs, and instead of broth, gatyg, yogurt, ayran or kefir are used. Often boiled lean meat, cut into pieces, is added to it.

Lyavangi

For this dish you will need minced meat and fish or a poultry carcass.

The filling is prepared from red onions, sour cherry plum – lavashan, walnuts. Season the minced meat with cilantro, black pepper, sumac.

Poultry or fish are stuffed, greased with a paste of marshmallow and baked on a wire rack.

Kyukyu sabzi

The historical roots of this dish are Iran. According to historical information, they began to prepare a delicate omelet from eggs with milk, portions of which resembled cups. During cooking, they are filled with a herb salad with spices. You can add other ingredients to the filling, making the dish more spicy in taste.

Petey

This is a thick lamb brisket soup cooked in an oven in a clay pot. Vegetables already steamed on fat tail fat are added to the finished broth: eggplants, tomatoes, carrots, onions and bell peppers.

Khash

This soup resembles an uncured jellied meat. It is cooked for 6 hours or more from beef tripe with the addition of tails, parts of the head, legs. There are no spices and herbs here. For foreign guests, locals serve greens in a separate bowl.

Khinkali

There are many recipes here too. The main feature is that the dish contains boiled dumplings and minced meat.

You can fry minced meat and onions, boil dough squares in broth. On a plate covered with pieces of dough, spread the filling of meat and onions with a slide, served with sour cream sauce with garlic.

Some cooks wrap raw minced meat in the dough, sticking the ends of the squares with a bag. In this form, the dish looks more like large dumplings of a specific shape. They are boiled in boiling water.

Kurza

This is another type of dumplings. Minced meat is prepared from meat, onions, cilantro and adjika. Small pies are made from dough with filling, connecting the edges of the cake with a pigtail. Products are boiled in boiling water, served with sour cream sauce with garlic.

Kutaby

These are pasties, which are fried in a dry frying pan without oil and fat. Stuffing of minced meat, where mutton or beef fat and onions must be added.

The peculiarity of this dish is that the dough is rolled out thinly, thinly, almost to transparency. Minced meat is also spread in a layer of several millimeters.

Azerbaijani saj

The national dish is prepared in a special concave cast-iron pan with the same name. Its ingredients are pieces of lamb and veal, fat tail fat and vegetables, mushrooms and herbs. It also includes spices and seasonings. Onions, carrots, eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers and chili, garlic, tomatoes, pomegranate – all these ingredients give the dish a piquant taste.

The dish is served directly in the sajah or laid out on a tray, having previously covered it with lavash.

Desserts and sweets

Azerbaijanis are big sweet tooth. There are many recipes for sweet dishes, and they are different from each other. These are all kinds of pastries, cookies, sorbets, preserves, marshmallows.

Shekerbura

These are small shortcrust pastry pies stuffed with nuts. Decorate the top of the pastry with a pattern using tweezers or scissors.

Gogal

These are buns with sweet or savory filling. Yeast dough is used. The filling is made from a mixture of flour, oil, salt and spices: turmeric, fennel, cumin, pepper. Sprinkle sesame seeds or caraway seeds on top of the baked goods.

Baklava

Yeast dough, hazelnuts, and other ground nuts are used as a basis for this baking. Additional and required ingredients – saffron, cloves, sugar.

The dessert resembles a sweet layered cake.

Sheker-churek

Shortcrust pastry cookies stuffed with jam or jam resemble kurabiye. It is crumbly and tender, melting in the mouth.

Tea traditions

In both hot and cold weather, the inhabitants of the East cannot do without tea.

Only black tea is drunk in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijanis use exclusively black long leaf long leaf. It is steamed in large teapots, preparing a strong brew. Then the drink is poured into tall pear-shaped mugs – armuds. The tea leaves are not diluted with boiling water, as is customary in Europe and Russia. Nobody puts sugar in tea either.

Cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom are added to the drink at the cooking stage, and in the summer – rose oil, which quenches thirst well on hot days.

The tea ceremony can be an attribute of matchmaking. During the feast, the bride’s parents give a sign to the groom. If they put a piece of sugar in his mug, it means that his proposal has been favorably accepted. The bride will be getting ready for the wedding. And if the sugar bowl is placed separately, without having sweetened the drink for the svatyam in advance, then this should be regarded as a refusal.

Interesting recipes for cooking at home

Those who like to get acquainted with the national recipes of dishes of residents of other countries can try their hand at cooking, using the tips of the experts.

Kutaby with herbs

For these pasties, the filling must be prepared without meat. It is enough to take spinach, parsley, green onions, mint and dill. All ingredients are crushed and spread on thinly rolled dough circles. Kutabs are fried in a pan without fat.

Azerbaijani pilaf

The garnish for this national dish is cooked in a cast-iron or copper cauldron using fat tail fat or butter, and garu – sliced ​​meat with fruits, vegetables and spices – is prepared separately.

Serving the dish to the table, you need to cover the rice with triangular pieces of kazmag – a specially prepared flat cake made from unleavened dough, then sprinkle with pomegranate grains. Garou is placed on a separate plate. Pilaf is most often eaten traditionally – with the hands, since it is believed that the taste of food is felt not only with the mouth, but also with the fingers.

Having got acquainted with Azerbaijani cuisine once, it is difficult not to fall in love with its dishes.