Sheki’s signature dish started out as a hearty lamb stew for the city’s working class. Now it’s popular throughout the country, although for the most authentic pot of piti you should definitely head to Sheki. Chickpeas, chestnuts, saffron and local spices pack the dish with flavour, but the key element lies in the earthenware pots in which piti is cooked and served. What’s more, this is actually two dishes in one: first you pour the broth into a separate bowl and enjoy as a soup starter and then you pour in the rest for the main course!
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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.
In Azerbaijan, tea is synonymous with warmth and hospitality. Tradition dictates that you should never allow a guest to leave your house without having offered it. Tea ceremonies have evolved over centuries to include their own rites and rituals. We serve our tea in a special pear- shaped glass called an armudu, often together with lemon and sugar, honey, jam, nuts and sweets. Black tea is the most popular.
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.
Dushbara is a traditional dumpling soup, which while popular throughout the country, is considered a true Baku delicacy. It consists of tiny meat dumplings, boiled together in a broth with a touch of vinegar and garlic sauce. According to tradition, Azerbaijanis should be able to make the dushbara dumplings small enough to fit 10 of them all on one tablespoon! Preparing dushbara may be time-consuming, but it’s a great winter warmer.