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.
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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.
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.