Saturday, July 13, 2024

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Top Azerbaijani Dishes, You Have to Try!

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As someone who has been living in the brother state Azerbaijan for many years, in this article, I will tell you, our dear readers, about the main delicacies that you should not leave the country without tasting when you come here.

Eating; For some people, it may just be considered a duty to end their hunger and fill their stomachs, but for me, it should first be a visual art feast. Then I should eat by tasting each bite’s taste, savoring it and enjoying it. It is possible to find both together in Azerbaijani cuisine.

Plov (rice) is the first place, which has an important popularity in the cuisine of many Central Asian countries and is considered a symbol of fertility. It is one of the richest foods of Azerbaijani cuisine with over a hundred varieties. The common point of Plov, which is made with different methods, is the way the rice is cooked. Moreover, rice is boiled just like pasta, and is made by separating its starch. For this reason, it cooks more healthily. It is usually served with an additional dish called ‘as qara’, with chestnut, meat, chicken, or even apricots and grapes. My favorite, Doseme Plov (Sah Plov), is cooked with a part called ‘kazmak’ underneath and taken out of the pot like a mold. It is also served to the guests at many weddings, accompanied by a special dance.

“Uc Bacı” (The Three Sisters ?) dish will please your eyes and then your stomach with its colorful appearance. It is made from eggplant, pepper, and tomato and stuffing contains more minced meat than rice. Stuffed Pip, wrapped in pip leaves, which my daughter eats with great appetite, and its size does not exceed the first curve of your thumb, is served with fermented qatiq (yogurt) in a small earthenware bowl. The most important reason many dishes are so delicious is that naturally fed-cattle farming is still widespread.

When it comes to meat, the first things that come to mind are; Kebabs: Grilled meat skewers, usually made with lamb or beef. It is flavored with spices and served with rice or wrapped in a thin phyllo dough called ‘Lavash’, a traditional Azerbaijani bread. I also enjoy including lavash in my practical salad recipes, which I discovered at home. ? In addition to being filling, it is a good choice both visually and in taste.

Since we live in a country where meat is very delicious, we prefer meat-free meals in other countries we visit. In order not to spoil the taste of our palate ? Once, during a routine health check in Turkey, my vitamin B12 level was found to be close to the highest limit and the doctor was surprised and I invited him to Azerbaijan ? Chickens are also raised naturally here. Of course, there are factory-produced ones, just like all over the world, but you have the chance to find the village chicken called ‘Kent Colpası’ everywhere. It is grilled in ‘setka’ in many local restaurants and its taste is delicious.

Let’s talk about soups, soup is my red line ? when it is satisfying and delicious, I ignore the value dishes on the menu. Now I will tell you about two different soups. Dovga; It is a yoghurt-based soup made mostly in the Ganja region and you can easily find it in the yoghurt sections of some markets. It contains rice, greens, and chickpeas. It is served cold in summer. I prefer to drink it in the sweltering heat of summer. I recommend you try it this way too. Dushbara; Small minced meat-filled manti are cooked in broth. I also love the taste of the broth left in the bowl when the grains are finished. Those who do not have a weight problem can eat it by dipping bread like me. ? It is usually served with garlic yogurt and vinegar.

My favorite is Piti, a dish belonging to the historical city of Shaki (Sheki), where the “Shaki Khan Palace” is located on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is a soup made from lamb meat, chickpeas, and vegetables. It is traditionally cooked in a tandoor or on a wood fire. During the cooking process, the soup becomes delicious. Its juice takes on the flavor of the meat and other ingredients and is served with sour cream or garlic yogurt. I can’t describe the taste of Piti to you because you must try this experience!

I can’t imagine a world without dessert, can you?

The dessert I will tell you now is the most popular among the desserts of Azerbaijani cuisine. The filling is usually prepared by mixing various nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds) and sugar. It is a traditional dessert consumed on many special occasions and celebrations. Sekerbura is a must, especially during the Novruz Holiday. It takes its place on the holiday table of every home. I like the walnut one the most. ? I also recommend you try it with tea!

Paklava, one of Azerbaijan’s traditional desserts, is similar to baklava, but has some differences; Although both are made of layers of dough, the top layer of dough of the paklava is made thick and half a walnut is placed on top of each cut piece of paklava. This image is appetizing! A Novruz holiday without paklava is unthinkable. Paklava and Şekerbura brothers even have a song ?

As a result, Azerbaijani cuisine attracts attention with its rich and diverse flavors. It is a cuisine shaped by the interaction of Middle Eastern, Caucasian, and Central Asian cuisines. Ingredients used in meals; spices, herbs, grains, meats, etc. Also cooking techniques; tandoori, steamed, beaten, etc. It creates indispensable tastes.

If you would like to taste all these flavors and many more, we welcome you to (Odlar Yurdu) Land of Fire, Azerbaijan…

“Lots of love to all of you from Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire…

Aylin Gulenc

Philologist & Editor & Author

Instagram: aylingurbuzgulenc

Facebook: Aylin Gürbüz Gülenç

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