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.
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Dolma is a dish traditionally made of grape leaves stuffed with various fillings of meat and rice, enriched with herbs or nuts. Its name comes from the verb ‘dolmaq’, meaning ‘to stuff’ in Azerbaijani. The ingredients vary from region to region and depending on the time of year. For example, in summertime, stuffed aubergines or tomatoes are also considered dolma dishes.
Qutabs are a sort of pancake stuffed with different fillings – such as meat, spinach, cheese or pumpkin - and cooked on an iron disk called a saj. In Baku and the Absheron region, qutabs are drizzled with melted butter and served with yogurt and pomegranate. They can also be sprinkled with sumac, rolled into tubes and eaten with your hands. Azerbaijanis often serve qutabs with ayran – a cold yogurt drink mixed with salt and herbs.
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.
This classic Azerbaijani soup is a healthy concoction of yoghurt, herbs (coriander, dill and mint) and rice. Served hot in winter and cold in summer, sometimes in a glass and sometimes in a bowl, dovga can differ across the regions and is regularly on offer at important ceremonies and celebrations. This is a great choice for vegetarians!