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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.