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Azerbaijani cuisine is one of the most interesting one in the world in general and the Orient in particular. It is somewhat similar to traditions of Caucasian and Central Asian people but has its distinctive features. The majority of national food is cooked from mutton, beef and poultry. Azerbaijanis as well as other Moslems do not eat pork. Dishes from fishes, especially of sturgeon and chopped meat are widely spread there.
Azerbaijani cuisine also can be vegetarian as there is abundance of vegetables in it: They cook potato, cabbage, carrot, beet, eggplant, cucumber, tomato, sweet pepper, green string bean, radish, onion, greens, spinach, sorrel etc.
Wide use of dressing with fragrant greens and spices gives the Azerbaijan cuisine specific taste. Azerbaijani cuisine widely uses such domestic spices as caraway seeds, fennel , anise, bay leaf, coriander and such kitchen herbs as mint, dill, parsley, celery, basil, thyme, etc. Especially popular in Azerbaijani cuisine is saffron: more than 50 national dishes are cooked with this herb! To enhance the flavors of dishes Azerbaijanis extensively use lemons, green and black olives, cherry plums, dried apricots, powder of dried pomegranate seeds etc.
Azerbaijanis always drink tea, mainly black, BEFORE DINNER. According to the tradition as soon as guests arrive tea is the first thing to serve The advantage of this tradition is that tea drinking with many guests around the table makes conversation flow smoother. Tea in Azerbaijan is a symbol of hospitality. Traditional DINNER CEREMONY in Azerbaijan
After tea go MAIN COURSES. Azerbaijani national cuisine offers more than 30 soups. Among them are every possible meat soups Azerbaijani soups are very thick and rich.
DYUSHBARA = Azerbaijan pelmeni. 1. make broth 2. mince meat with addition of onions and spices. 3. Unleavened dough unroll up to 1 mm thickness, then cut it into small squares. 4. The squares fill with minced meat (2-3 grams per each) and shaped like triangle pouches. 5. put them into the boiling broth for 5 minutes. 6. serve dyushbara seasoned with coriander or dried mint with separately served wine vinegar with garlic
Greens, and fresh vegetable as tomatoes and cucumbers (pickled in winter) are a must on the table. National cheese brynza is always to the point))
Vegetable salads are special in Azerbaijani cuisine. Vegetables are very thinly sliced. Salads are eaten as side dishes. Starters and appetizers are very popular too. The most often served are various pickles and marinades.
The national food range also includes many dishes from rice. Top proud of Azerbaijan table is PILAU having numerous remarkable local recipes.
Azerbaijani cuisine boasts a wide variety of pilaus. The basic ingredients are rice, butter, and meat which sometimes is replaced with vegetables, greens, eggs and even fruit.
PILAU 1. Big chunks of mutton/beaf/poultry are fried. 2. onion, raisins, dried apricots and prune), chestnuts, spices are added and stewed until ready. 3. Rice is fried with butter in a thick casserole and then boiled in salt water until ready. 4. Saffron dissolved in a cup of water is added to rice 5 min before it’s ready to colour it into yellow
DOLMA It is a unique dish. Many people call it “stuffed cabbage”. As for dolma there are more than 30 types of this dish.
YARPAG DOLMASY (from grape leaves) Mince mutton flesh and onions. Add rice, greens, salt, pepper, spices, (some recipes offer to add cinnamon, chopped chestnuts, tomatoes). Scald fresh grape leaves with boiled water. The minced mixture is to be stirred until uniform and wrap in leaves. Dolma is then put into a saucepan with a thick bottom, and stewed in water (half full saucepan) until ready. Served with matsoni – a sort of sour milk. (matsoni can be substituded for sour cream)
The same techniques are used for cooking kyalyam dolmasy (from cabbage), badymjan dolmasy (from eggplants), bibyar dolmasy (from sweet pepper), soghan dolmasy (from onion) as well as from tomatoes, potatoes and even quinces and apples.
Flour-based Dishes KUTABS are original Azerbaijani pies. Mutton is minced with onion. Pepper, salt, spices, Pomegranate are added and carefully mixed. The mixture is then wrapped in unleavened dough half-moon shaped slices and fried on a frying pan in oil. Greens are also used as kutabs fillings .
Often after dinner (especially pilau ) they serve DOVGA – cold soup from sour milk. It is believed that dovga is good for digesting heavy foods (rice, meats etc.)
DOVGA Wet peas for 3/4 hours then boil them until half ready. Chop onions. Beat up the yoghurt with addition of flour, and then boil it on moderate flame with slow stirring. Add the peas, rice and onion, and allow it boil up. While it is boiling up add cress, fennel and spinach and boil it for 3 or 5 min. without stirring. Take the pan from the flame and allow it stand for 1 or 2 min. without covering it.
PAKHLAVA The first layer of rolled out dough is put on oiled baking tray, the stuffing is strewn on it; the second dough layer is used to cover the stuffing. The procedure is repeated 8-10 times. After that pakhlava is cut in rhombuses, greased with the yolk of an egg mixed with saffron. Nut or pistachio halves are used to decorate each rhombus' middle. When ready pakhlava is coated with syrup or honey. SHAKERBURA Pies from fancy pastry with stuffing from sweet almonds or fried nuts mixed with sugar. Stuffing is wrapped in dough rounds, the edges are helically nipped. Various ornaments might be drawn on shakerbura's surface.
The caramel includes NUT KOZINAKI, HALVA. Among candies the most popular are RAHAT LUKUM (with different additions), SHERBET, jellied fig, nuga.
Jam Azerbaijan cooks make jam of any fruit and berry, green walnut, water-melon peel, rose petals
Bevarages The most widespread drink in Azerbaijan is sherbet. To make it they use sugar, lemon, saffron, seeds of mint and basil as well as different fruits. FRUIT SHERBET Sugar is dissolved in boiled water; various fruits, berries, mint are added. Served with ice cubes.
The most popular kinds of bread are oblong CHUREK and PITA - the bread baked in tendir. From ancient times Azerbaijani dishes have been cooked in copper ware. Even today villagers observe this tradition believing that a meal prepared in such a way is much more delicious. AZERBAIJAN CUISINE IS NOT ONLY TASTY BUT ALSO GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH – the evidence to this is a lot of long-livers and centenarians in the Republic.