Chunks of lamb soaked in a sauce of onion, vinegar and pomegranate juice, impaled on a large skewer and grilled on the barbecue – just one of many Azerbaijani kebab combinations! Some are made with lamb or beef, others with chicken or fish. Vegetables such as potatoes, aubergines, green peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes typically add succulence and flavour. The tika and lula kebabs are the two most popular: tika is made from marinated chunks of lamb, whereas lula is prepared from ground meat wrapped around a skewer.
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Our most sinfully flavoursome pastry is the famous pakhlava: layers of dough, stuffed with nuts or pistachios, and coated with honey or syrup. Traditionally, it’s eaten during the Novruz holiday together with shekerbura and shorgoghal, but it’s also enjoyed throughout the year. Pakhlava has a distinctive diamond shape, symbolising fire, and differs from region to region. We highly recommend trying the regional variations of pakhlava in Sheki and Guba – two cities famous for their sweets.
Shekerbura is another irresistibly sweet pastry. Shaped like a half moon with elaborate exterior patterns made using special mini tongs, the inside is filled with ground almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and sugar. The tastiest shekerbura is so soft that it disintegrates immediately in the mouth! Like pakhlava, it’s one of the symbolic sweets of the much-loved Novruz holiday, during which family and friends join forces to bake them together.
In terms of popularity, lavangi stands head and shoulders above Lankaran’s other signature dishes. It’s made with either chicken or fish, which is stuffed with a scrumptious walnut paste along with raisins, onions, and herbs. Given the proximity of the Caspian Sea, the fish lavangi is especially popular, particularly when done with Caspian kutum. For the most delicious results, lavangi should be cooked in foil over hot coals in a traditional tandir oven.
Served mostly at weddings or special occasions, shah plov is considered the ‘king of plovs’ and is most commonly accompanied by qovurma – cooked meat, nuts, dry fruits and herbs. Shah plov is both a delicious dish and an unforgettable experience. After cutting the plov, which is glued together by a covering of buttery lavash bread, the astonishing aroma of the rice and other ingredients is sure to leave you with a lasting impression.