Azerbaijani Food: 20 Pearls of Azerbaijani Cuisine
The cuisine of a country tells a lot about its history and culture. And this is very true for Azerbaijan.
Being one of the key countries on the Silk Road, Azerbaijan has been influenced by many cuisines. You will detect eastern and western elements of culinary culture in every bite. So it is time to introduce you to this beautiful cuisine!
Our food journey to Azerbaijan will have you jumping on the next plane to “the land of fire”. Now you’re excited to discover more, let’s jump right into the top 20 amazing foods of Azerbaijani cuisine.
Let’s start with the most famous drinks!
1. Tea, tea, tea
Are you looking for something better than coffee? Come to Azerbaijan for a cup of tea. Following traditions, centuries, and ages, Azerbaijani tea never gets old. Your first sip will tell you there just ain’t anything better. The flavor, texture, and smell take you to the beautiful nature of the mountains of Azerbaijan.
Tea drinking culture is huge in Azerbaijan. Locals drink it anytime during the day: before a meal, after a meal, tea is just perfect for every occasion. Are you tired? Drink tea. Have you got a headache? Drink tea.
Traditionally, Azerbaijani tea is served in pear-shaped glasses, as you will see when you visit any restaurant in Azerbaijan. At home, however, people use any shaped glasses to enjoy their tea.
Sherbet is a cold traditional drink. It is a pretty easy to make, requiring just warm water, lemon, and sugar, give it a good stir, put it in a refrigerator to cool and serve. Voila!
While not a daily drink, it is one of the best drinks in Azerbaijan. You can drink sherbet in every season, from spring to winter, it is best for cooling you down on hot summer days.
Well, everybody needs a little sweetness!
Hello there, my dessert lovers! Here we give yo some of the best desserts to be found in the country.
One of the most well-known desserts is pakhlava. This sweet is literally layered pastry filled with nuts and syrup. Pakhlava is definitely one of the sweetest desserts you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Although it is quite difficult to make, locals cook it with great pleasure and pride. Usually, pakhlava is eaten during the spring holiday of Azerbaijan, Nowruz.
Known as twins, pakhlava and shakarbura are always made together. This sweet is loved by many.
Shakarbura is a half-moon-shaped pastry filled with lots of nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and sugar. Despite being quite a sweet dessert, shakarbura does not reach the sweetness level of pakhlava.
Traditionally it was made during the spring holiday. However, it seems to be eaten all the time nowadays.
Rather than different from pakhlava and shakarbura, shorgoghal is a slightly sour and unsweetened multilayered spring pastry. Shorgogal is also made during the Nowruz holiday, and together with pakhlava and shakarbura, they make the best decorations for the Azerbaijani holiday table.
Traditionally, locals enjoyed these delicious pastries during the Nowruz holiday; however, nowadays, people seem to eat shorgoghal year-round. A cup of tea and a shorgogal makes the perfect breakfast for anyone expecting an energetic day.
One fun fact about shorgogal is that, traditionally, this yellow, round-shaped pastry represents the sun.
6. Tandoor bread
While not a dessert, if there is anything better than a dessert, it’s definitely Azerbaijani national tandoor bread. Following ancient traditions, tandoor bread is still one of the most loved breads of Azerbaijan.
From north to south and east to west, you will find a tandoor bread in every city and village at all times.
The bread is made in a tandoor, a type of oven. You can enjoy Azerbaijani tandoor bread when it is freshly cooked and served. Tip: It’s always better to enjoy this bread with local cheese.
Now, it is time for mains!
Kebab is certainly not new to you. We know you probably tasted kebab many times in your life. Well, if you like kebabs, sit closer!
The main difference between Azerbaijani kebab and the others is how it is cooked. Azerbaijanis use a specific type of skewer called a shish.
You might think that kebabs are purely meat, but you’d be wrong. Azerbaijani kebabs can be made with meat but also with various vegetables, including tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and more.
I guess there is no place on Earth where people don’t like rice. Of course, every place has its specific technique for cooking it, but believe me, Azerbaijani plov is definitely among the best.
Rice tastes really delicious even when it is simply cooked with a little salt and butter. Now, imagine combining it with nuts, chess nuts, almonds, saffron, various vegetables, and meat.
Azerbaijan cuisine is very well-known for its plov. There are so many different recipes from different regions of the country.
9. Shah Plov
One of the best and most popular rice dishes is shah plov, or king plov. There is a certain and very precise way of cooking shah plov. Traditionally, it is covered with layers of lavash and filled with nuts and meat.
It is often served on very special occasions. However, you can find shah plov in restaurants throughout the country just about any day.
Another strange name, huh? Most people reading this will never have heard of piti, which is a pity! 🙂
Piti is a dish very specific to the Sheki region of Azerbaijan. It is cooked for many hours, sometimes even for days. It is usually made with lamb and chickpeas and served in clay pots.
Piti will keep you full the whole day. You will never forget this delicious taste!
Who does not love Italian pasta? Who does not love Korean dumplings? Well, better than pasta and tastier than dumplings are Azerbaijani dushbara.
Although this dish requires hard work and plenty of time, it is absolutely worth it. Dushbara is made with minced meat boiled in salted water and served with wine vinegar, Greek yogurt, and garlic.
On very cold winter days, this dish will warm your heart and soul. Of course, not to forget your stomach!
In any competition of dishes that take a long time to cook, khingal is definitely in the top five. However, every bite you will take you to your warmest dreams.
This dish is definitely a foodie favorite. Khingal is a kind of dumpling that is also a kind of noodle. Once boiled in hot water, khingal is served with Greek yogurt mixed with garlic and caramelized onions on top.
You can also have khingal boiled with potatoes and served with minced meat on top.
Lavangi is a dish that comes from regions in the southeast of Azerbaijan, Lankaran, Masalli, and Lerik. It is a dish that captures the heart of every local and tourist.
Lavangi is usually prepared by stuffing onions, dried fruits into the chicken, or a fish. With the special cooking technique used, this dish is even better than a Thanksgiving turkey.
14. Kufta Bozbash
This is an everyday favorite. Kufta bozbash steals everyone’s heart with its amazing aroma and taste. It is a kind of a beef stew made with meatballs. Of course, every region has its own method and adds its own ingredients and spices. The most common kufta bozbash is made with meatballs, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and some broth.
Fancy something a bit different from a Hungarian goulash? Try Azerbaijani kufta bozbash. You’ll be amazed!
Something a little light?!
Azerbaijani cuisine is full of special meat-based dishes. But let’s introduce you to some of the lighter meals this beautiful cuisine has to offer. Gutab is a very popular dish in Azerbaijan, and there is probably no other dish in the world that is quite like it.
Literally, gutab is pancakes filled with meat, cheese, or spinach. Now, obviously, mention pancakes and you instantly think sweet. C’mon guys! Live it up a bit! Forget sweet and think very, very tasty. It takes a while to cook gutab, but it is a very light dish that you can enjoy with a tomato or yogurt sauce.
This Azerbaijani dish comes in different shapes and is made with various cooking techniques. Every region has its own way of making dolma. The best known and most popular dolma are those made with cabbage and grape leaves, and the “three sisters”, bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants.
The filling is minced meat with pepper, mint, or salt, according to taste. Good dolma is always served with Greek yogurt on the side.
A traditional Azerbaijani barbecue? Well, that is definitely sadj. For centuries in these lands, cooking in clay pots was thought to make the meals taste better, which is why this tradition has been kept alive.
In most restaurants in Azerbaijan, sadj is filled with meat, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. The cooking techniques make it exceptionally tasty and absolutely unforgettable!
Have you noticed how much Azerbaijanis love yogurt? Even plain yogurt makes any dish taste hundreds or millions of times better.
So why not come up with its own dish? Dovga. This is a yogurt soup and all you need is dill, coriander, spinach, and any other herbs or greenery you prefer, and some yogurt. You can also add some chickpeas to make it a little more colorful.
Warm in winter and cold on hot summer days, dovga is an ingenious creation: better than ayran. Enjoy!
Say omelet and you will think eggs and cheese. No, we are in Azerbaijan. When we say omelet, we mean tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and eggs combined delicately in a pot and served with tandoori bread.
Azerbaijanis call this dish pomidor yumurta, tomatoes and eggs, just in case strangers are curious about the ingredients 🙂
20. Mangal Salad
Alongside these wonderful Azerbaijani dishes, why not try a mangal salad? Made with various vegetables, it is a light a refreshing accompaniment.
Related: Most Popular Desserts in Azerbaijan