Azerbaijani cuisine

Ethnic Cuisine Azerbaijani cuisine
Azerbaijani national cuisine had been spread in the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan, Iran Azerbaijan, old Azerbaijan territories( now included in Armenia) – Erivan khanate, Zangezur and Goycha provinces, in the territories of Georgia where Azerbaijani people have historically been settled – Borchali, Dagestan, also including Derbent that had been centre of one of the old Azerbaijani khanates. Except using wild animals, birds, fish and plants, the production of agricultural products is required during further development of society. To do this, people must have a high culture of agriculture and animal husbandry. The history of the national cuisine is as old as the history of Azerbaijani people. The cuisine with its historical roots and originality differs from the others. The Azerbaijani dishes are popular around the world with the highest qualities and taste. They can not be confused with others. Azerbaijan national cuisine is closer to Eastern cuisine due to taste and preparation of the dishes, as well as adding a dark spice and flavor additives. Now Azerbaijan cuisine holds the specific features of the ancient methods of preparation of dishes while the modern cooking requirements and ways of preparation are taken into account.

Azerbaijani dishes have traditionally been cooked with copper utensils in copper cookware. Copper bowls and plates are still commonly used as serving dishes.

Azerbaijani cuisine is full of different types of greens and vegetables such as aubergine, tomato, sweet pepper, spinach, cabbage, onion, sorrel, beet, radish, cucumber, green bean. Rice and products made from flour are widely used in national cuisine. It is famous for 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 majority of national dishes is prepared of lamb, beef and poultry meat. Dishes prepared of minced meat are more prevalent. Sea, lakes and rivers of the Republic of Azerbaijan are abundant with different fish species, particularly white sturgeon. Sturgeon fish is widely used in preparation of national 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.

One of the most reputed dishes of Azerbaijani cuisine is plov from saffron-covered rice, served with various herbs and greens, a combination totally distinct from those found in Uzbek plovs. Azerbaijani cuisine includes more than 40 different plov recipes. Other second courses include a wide variety of kebabs and shashlik, including lamb, beef, chicken, duck 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. The third courses include soups which the types of this dish are more than 30 in Azerbaijan national cuisine. These include kufta bozbash, piti prapered of meat and dovga, ovdux, doğramac, balva prepared of greens and yoghurt. Some soups are served in national or interesting and unusual shaped bowls.

Black tea is the national beverage, and is drunk after food is eaten. It is also offered to guests as a gesture of welcome, often accompanied by fruit preserves.
Typical Azerbaijani desserts are sticky, syrup-saturated pastries such as pakhlava and Shaki Halva. The former, a layer of chopped nuts sandwiched between mats of thread-like fried dough, is a speciality of Shaki 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).

Sweets 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 that is in season, such as plums, cherries, apricots, or grapes.

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.