Besides the mud volcanoes and Fire Mountains, Azerbaijan offers many exciting things. Everything about the country is mesmerizing from some of the oldest modern oil mines in the world to a landscape resembling Mars.
Now, if you are not going there to see the mountains that have been burning for over 65 years, you may want to try the Azerbaijani cuisines. The food is delicious, and you can find anything, from roasted vegetables to meat and desserts. The recipes combine elements from Iranian and Turkish cuisines.
With most of the population being Islam, most food in Azerbaijan is halal and kosher. Therefore, if you are visiting and need to observe dietary rules, there is no better place than Azerbaijan.
Top Azerbaijani Foods
Azerbaijan cuisines are famous for its richness. The recipes include all sorts of vegetables, such as eggplants, beets, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, and cabbage. The dishes also have meat like chicken, beef, and lamb.
However, the takeaway point lies with the spices and herbs used. When enjoying Azerbaijan meals, you can taste every herb in the recipe. From mint, leek, coriander, tarragon, or marjoram and thyme to dill, parsley, chive, green onions, and watercress, you can feel the difference.
The most famous foods in Azerbaijan include:
Azerbaijan takes a lot of pride in its food and hospitality. They make their foods using the freshest ingredients, using a wide range of spices and herbs. Their national dish, Plov, is no different.
Depending on the ingredients and preparation techniques, the dish could bear a different name. But, plov is a rice-based dish. It could come with other foods or combinations, but the bottom line is rice.
The classic plov in Azerbaijan can be dried fruit plov, choloc plov (using beans and fish), chicken plov, mutton plov, and onions or Shirin plov (sweeter). However, the most popular plov in Azerbaijan have to be Govourma (fried) plov and sebzi plov (has pieces of meat/meatballs with onions and greens).
Azerbaijanis live on long-grain rice, which is why basmati rice is typical in their recipes. The recipe then comes together on a gazmag, usually made of flour, eggs, yogurt, butter, or potatoes.
Firuze Restaurant, Plov House, and Sehrli Tandir are excellent spots for plov in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.
Dolma requires minced lamb meat mixed with spices and herbs for seasoning. Azerbaijanis use grape or cabbage leaves to wrap the meat. Others include eggplants, green peppers, and tomatoes in their dolma, and serve them with gatigh (a yogurt sauce) or garlic.
Visit Dolma Restaurant while in Baku and have the best dolmas.
You cannot complete a tour in Azerbaijan without trying the famous kebab. The recipes differ depending on the vendor. Some use lamb, others beef, while others use chicken or fish to prepare their kebabs.
For vegetables, the most common ones include eggplants, potatoes, green pepper, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
You can enjoy different types of kebabs across Azerbaijan. For instance, when you order a tikka kebab, you get lamb. Usually, the lamb is cut into cubes and marinated before threading on a skewer. On the other hand, if you order Lula-kebab, you get ground meat wrapped around a skewer.
You can find kebabs in food markets or street vendors all over Azerbaijan. Kosebasi Baku or Fisincan Restaurant are excellent choices if you want kebab behind closed doors.
If you have visited Azerbaijan, then pilaf should be at the top of the foods you must try. There is a reason why pilaf is the king of Azerbaijani cuisine. First, the serving is a feast. The recipe combines boiled basmati rice with gara.
Now, gara is a sauce prepared separately. It may use meat, usually lamb or fish. The sauce also uses onions and dried fruits in the making. Therefore, when you order pilaf, it should be no surprise to find dried plumps, cherry plums, or raisins in your rice.
The rice makes a gazmag, a crust laid in the bottom of a saucepan during serving.
Firuze Restaurant and Dushbara Restaurant are excellent places to get the best pilaf in Azerbaijan.
If you walk into a restaurant and look at its menu, you will probably notice caviar with a ridiculously high price. Caviar is the fancy item you order from a menu for the fun of eating at a classy restaurant.
However, when you visit Azerbaijan, you can even participate in the making of black caviar. In Azerbaijan, black caviar is a cultural heritage and is usually under regulation for exportation. The black caviar comes from sturgeon fish found in the Caspian Sea.
The caviar gives Azerbaijan a lot of culinary identity in the world. Therefore, if you want to enjoy black caviar while in Azerbaijan, you can do so with a piece of toast covered in butter.
If you are traveling outside the country, you can buy at most 125g of black caviar from authorized sellers at airports or within the country.
If you are planning a tour to Azerbaijan, and want to get intimate with their food, then Piti is the best dish to start with. The recipe requires patience and a lot of preparation time, considering it takes 8-12 hours to cook.
Piti is a dish that comprises lamb, peas, onions, garlic, chestnuts, potatoes, and herbs. The ingredients are cooked together in a clay pot, filled with water, and cooked under low heat in an oven.
After the Soviet Union’s dissolution, a lot changed in Azerbaijan. Culinary experts are also putting efforts into restoring the country’s gastronomic heritage. Besides their expensive caviar, Azerbaijan has many healthy recipes you can try. If you plan to visit, make sure you do not leave the country without tasting some of the famous foods in Azerbaijan.