Our deep respect for bread is genuine and heartfelt: we swear by it and never throw it away. A wide variety of breads are baked around the country, the most popular being tandir and lavash. While tandir is greased with egg yolk and baked in a clay oven, lavash is a flat bread, wafer-thin and baked on a saj.
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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.
Made of rice mixed with herbs, dried fruits, meat or fish and other local ingredients, plov (pilaf) is a dish that can never get boring! It comes in all varieties and is always around during any Azerbaijani holiday. Some of the most popular types are fisinjan (with ground meat in a pomegranate and nut sauce), shirin (with raisins and dried apricots), and shah, which is encased in layers of buttered lavash bread.
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.
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.