By Azure Lee
Suppose you are exploring Azerbaijan famous food, you might be familiar with the famous dish Plov, but that's just the beginning. This dish hides more gems than you can expect, and it is also a good place for vegetarians to visit.
Situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Azerbaijan's national dishes boast a unique flavor influenced by a blend of cultures. Join me as we explore this article filled with enlightening information about the country's rich culinary heritage.
8 Must-Try Famous Foods Of Azerbaijan In 2023
For millennia, Azerbaijan served as a major hub of the Silk Road, which linked people and civilizations in the East and the West. As a result, a wide variety of cuisines, ingredients, and flavors have been developed over time and are now rich and diverse. We will examine the top 8 Azerbaijani dishes in this article.
Plov - Azerbaijan national food
Plov, also called Pilaf, stands tall as Azerbaijan national food. Azerbaijani Plov is characterized by its distinctive rice, which is infused with a delightful blend of butter, saffron, or cinnamon, or sometimes both. The dish boasts a slightly sweet and rich taste, thanks to the addition of dried fruits and nuts.
Furthermore, Plov comes with a diverse array of accompaniments, including vegetables, herbs, and various seasonings. Notably, the bottom layer of Azerbaijani Plov features a golden crust known as Gazmag, which is made from a combination of flour, butter, egg, saffron water, and yogurt.
Plov is available in both vegan and non-vegan versions, made using fish, pork, mutton, chicken, beef, or lamb. While each family or restaurant may have its unique way of preparing and serving Plov, it is highly recommended to try this dish in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.
Plov, also called Pilaf, stands tall as Azerbaijan national food
Dolma – Stuffed grape leaves
The dish gets its name from the Azerbaijani word "dolma," meaning "stuffed."
Dolma, a traditional Azerbaijani delicacy, has gained popularity not only in the region but also in Eastern Europe and Mediterranean cuisines. It comprises a flavorful mixture of meat, onion, rice, peas, and spices, which is skillfully wrapped in grape leaves or stuffed into vegetables like tomatoes, sweet peppers, or eggplants.
As a versatile dish, dolma is enjoyed with a wide range of fresh ingredients, such as bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and various greens.
Dushbara – Dumpling soup
Many people say that Dushbara is the best Azerbaijani food in Baku. It is a little dumpling made of dough that is boiled in broth with minced meat and seasonings within.
Similar dishes can be found in various countries, but Azerbaijani dushbara is distinguished by its small and delicate size.
Crafted with precision, each dumpling is carefully shaped by hand into tiny hat-like forms. Dushbara is commonly served with accompaniments such as crushed garlic, vinegar, dried mint, or yogurt, adding extra layers of flavor to the dish.
Many people say that Dushbara is the best Azerbaijani food in Baku
Kebabs - Sizzling delights loved by all
When tourists come to Azerbaijan, they often ask: "What food do they eat in Azerbaijan?". The answer maybe is Kebabs. When exploring Azerbaijani cuisine, indulging in their famous kebabs is a must.
Kebab, originally an invention of the Turks, has now become a prominent feature in Middle Eastern cuisine. In Arabic, the word "Kebab" translates to "roasted meat," and this traditional dish is typically prepared by grilling or roasting the meat over an open flame.
Azerbaijan offers an abundance of Kebab recipes, with Lula Kebab being the most prevalent version. Traditionally, Lula Kebab consists of minced lamb or mutton mixed with salt, lemon, seasonings, and a medley of herbs. The seasoned meat is then shaped into cubes and threaded onto skewers before being roasted to perfection.
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Lavangi - Baked stuffed meat dish
Undoubtedly, Azerbaijani cuisine has earned its reputation for its delightful use of spices, and Lavangi is a perfect representation of such flavorful dishes. Though the exact origin of Lavangi remains uncertain, it is believed to have originated in the Gilan province, specifically in Lakaran, and has now gained widespread popularity throughout the country.
The most common version of Lavangi is Baliq Lavangi, where cultural fishes like kutum or asp are used as the main ingredient. However, Toyuq Lavangi, which features stuffed chicken, is also widely recognized, and ducks can serve as excellent alternatives.
Moreover, there is a vegetarian variation of lavangi that uses eggplant in place of the fish and poultry. Lavangi is a fantastic confluence of flavors since it is packed with walnuts, onions, and a variety of sauces and seasonings, regardless of the base.
Lavangi on wooden plate, Azerbaijani national food
Shekerbura - Sweet pastry
Shekerbura is another sweet that is associated with the Novruz celebration but can be found all year round. Its origin can be traced back to the 7th century or the Iranians Empire era. This treat is also popular in Afghanistan and Central Asia these days.
The filling of this pastry includes sugar and ground nuts, such as walnut, almond, or hazelnut. It will be formed into a half-moon shape and carved with a flame-like pattern to indicate the Novruz symbolism.
Pakhlava - Layered pastry
Derived from Ottoman Turkish cuisine, Azerbaijani Pakhlava or Halva has roots in the famous Baklava. Traditionally, Pakhlava is a delicacy prepared specifically for Novruz, a traditional festival in March that celebrates the arrival of spring.
Over time, Pakhlava has become a beloved sweet enjoyed throughout the year, and it is now available in various forms across restaurants, bakeries, pastry shops, and households, each having its own unique recipe for this cultural delicacy. The hallmark of Azerbaijani Pakhlava lies in its multiple layers of nuts drenched in syrup or honey.
Moreover, a mixture of yolk and saffron is typically placed on top, and nuts like walnuts or hazelnuts are used as decoration. Pakhlava is sometimes referred to as one of the sweetest pastries one has ever had, and the locals probably pair it with their traditional black tea.
Derived from Ottoman Turkish cuisine, Azerbaijani Pakhlava or Halva has roots in the famous Baklava
Gutabs – Stuffed meat or vegetable pies
Gutab, which is sometimes spelled Qutab, is regarded as the best example of quick food in Azerbaijani cuisine.
Gutabs, the Azerbaijani patty pies, come with a delightful variety of fillings, including greens, vegetables, meat, or cheese. Traditionally shaped like crescents or semi-circles, these delectable treats are cooked on a large circular metal griddle known as 'saj.'
The locals affectionately refer to gutabs as 'Azerbaijani fast-food' due to their popularity as a quick, on-the-go snack. You can find gutabs readily available throughout Baku and its surrounding regions, from supermarkets and street vendors to cafes and upscale restaurants, where they are often served as appetizers.
Understanding Azerbaijan Food Prices
In Azerbaijan, the prices of food items can vary depending on factors like the type of ingredients used, the location of the eatery, and the dish's popularity.
Generally, traditional dishes like Plov, Dolma, Dushbara, and Shekerbura are widely available and reasonably priced, making them accessible to locals and visitors alike.
Street foods like Kebabs and Qutab are popular options and can be found at affordable prices. Desserts like Pakhlava and Lavangi may be slightly more expensive due to their premium ingredients and preparation.
Generally, Azerbaijan offers a wide variety of cuisine options at various price points to suit a variety of budgets.
For travelers eager to explore this culinary wonderland, the good news is that obtaining an Azerbaijani eVisa is a straightforward process. The country has implemented an eVisa system, allowing travelers from eligible countries to apply online. By visiting the Azerbaijani Immigration Services website, travelers can easily complete the application form, submit the required documents, and pay the visa fee. The eVisa processing is typically efficient, granting visitors a convenient and efficient way to enter this captivating nation.