We continue our review of some dishes and products that are worth paying attention to during your trip to Azerbaijan.
In the Caucasus there are many variations of such a popular dish as khingal. Azerbaijani khingal is not like any other and definitely deserves your attention.
For its preparation, minced lamb with onions is fried in oil. Separately prepare thin layers of dough, from which then cut into small diamond-shaped pieces and boil in water. When serving, hot slices of boiled dough are laid out on a plate, and roasted minced meat is placed on them, sprinkling with grated cheese and cinnamon. Separately put matsoni with chopped garlic.
You will find the Azerbaijani khingal in cafes and restaurants of national cuisine throughout the country.
By the way, dried dough diamonds for making khingal are sold in many stores, in departments with bakery products. You can buy them to please your loved ones with easy-to-prepare and delicious Azerbaijani khingal!
The original dishes that are common in Azerbaijan also include lavangi – poultry or fish, stuffed entirely with nuts, raisins, onions and other additives. This dish of Talish cuisine (talish is one of the peoples of Azerbaijan) is loved by all residents of the country and there may be various recipes for its preparation. However, the most delicious is the classic lavangi, baked in tandir. This method of cooking is mainly used in the regions where Talish live – Masalli, Lankaran, Astara, etc.
Fish lavangi, as a rule, are made from kutum. Regardless of the method of cooking – in tandir or oven, this dish always turns out fragrant and tasty, and leaves no one indifferent.
Today, many restaurants in the capital and regions have such a delicacy as lavangi on their menu – be sure to try!
Piti is a national dish of Azerbaijan, originally from the city of Sheki. This rich, tasty, fragrant soup is cooked in clay pots, which should be stewed for at least 8 hours. In Sheki, all the subtleties of preparing piti are strictly observed, so there it turns out to be so special.
The process of its preparation usually begins with soaking large, yellow peas in water for about three hours, which is then placed on the bottom of 300 ml clay pots. Peas should take up to a third of the pot volume. On the peas they put the flesh of the back leg of the lamb cut into small pieces – approximately 100 g per pot. Then a piece of fat tail is placed on top, so that it covers the contents.
After that, the dish is salted with coarse salt, poured with water and put on a hot stove. While the water in the cups comes to a boil, they remove the froth twice and put two spoons of finely chopped onion in each pot. Then the foam is removed again and the pots covered with lids are left to simmer over low heat, occasionally adding some water. Bringing piti to its unique state takes eight hours, and only a few minutes before serving, saffron is added to each pot.
Usually, piti is served with traditional pita bread, pickled vegetables and sumac (ground sumac tree berries), which gives sour taste to dishes and is considered good for blood. Piti has its own special way of consumption. First, the broth is poured from the clay pot and eaten. After the plate is empty, peas and mutton are thrown out of the mug. They should be kneaded to a puree state and without wasting a minute to start eating.
Not only in Sheki, but also in other regions of the country, cafes and restaurants today prepare and offer guests excellent piti. Do not miss the chance to taste this original dish!
Gutabs with various fillings – from greens, meat, tripe, pumpkin, cheese, shor (salted cottage cheese), are loved in all corners of Azerbaijan. And it is not surprising that there are many variations in the preparation of this hearty meal.
When cooking classic gutab, minced lamb pulp with the addition of pomegranate grains or lavashana is laid out on a circle of rolled dough (we mentioned it in the first part of the review). After that, the circle is folded into a crescent shape and fried in oil on both sides. When serving, gutabs are sprinkled with sumac.
Gutabs with seasonal greenery are also very popular. In some regions, for example in Gusar, salted cheese is mixed with greens. And the sizes of such gutabs are larger than usual. In Ganja, gutabs are called kata. Kata comes with meat or greens, sometimes with the addition of white cheese. Before serving, it is usually cut into portions and also sprinkled with sumac.
If ayran is already well known in many countries, then dovga you will meet only in Azerbaijan. Dovga is an Azerbaijani soup from gatyg (matsoni) boiled with peas and various fragrant greens. There are cooking options with rice and small meatballs. Thick hearty dovga can be consumed both hot and cold.
Currently, dovga is produced industrially and packaged in bottles, sold in supermarkets, in departments with dairy products. So, it is not necessary to go to a restaurant to enjoy this dish.
A flattened, wide pan with convex bottom called Saj, gave the name to the eponymous dish of Azerbaijani cuisine. This mix of roasted meat with vegetables and spices, usually prepared on an open fire. For its preparation is usually used tender lamb, potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, onions. Of course, many other combinations of ingredients are possible: there is Saj from poultry meat, fish and seafood, vegetables, etc. Due to the shape of the pan, the food on it is cooked quickly and efficiently: meat and vegetables acquire a crispy crust, under which lies tender baked flesh.
Ready Saj is served right in the pan. And do not be surprised if you find a burner under the pan: this way the dish remains hot and its ingredients continue to stew, becoming even more tender.
In Azerbaijan, there are many types of pilaf. The most common is pilaf with lamb, greens, chestnuts, apricots, raisins. The bottom of the cauldron, in which pilaf stews, is covered with a flat cake, which, when ready, forms a delicious crust (Gaimag). When serving pilaf, first put rice on a large dish, and on top of it carefully lay out the rest of the ingredients. Or stuffing put separately.
In the spring in Azerbaijan Often prepare Sabzi-pilaf or green pilaf, with juicy greens. There is also chicken pilaf, pilaf with dried fruits (sweet pilaf) and even pilaf with fish. And during a trip to Ganja, you should definitely try Shah pilaf, which is typical for this area and is able to decorate any feast. The name of this festive dish comes from its appearance, which resembles a headdress of medieval oriental rulers. Unlike ordinary pilaf, Shah pilaf served on the table as if “sealed.” That is, rice and garnish are baked together in Gazan, the bottom and walls of which are covered with flat cakes. It turns out something like a big cake, filling for which is fragrant smoking pilaf.
The traditional Azeri pastry includes Sheker-Bura, Baklava, Gogal (sweet and salty), Bamiya, Sheker-Chorek, Badam-Bura and many other delicious sweets that are made and sold throughout the country.
There are many variations of baklava in Azerbaijan – Baku, Guba, Shaki, Ganja, and each has its own characteristics. So Shaki baklava (or halva) is made from rice flour, chopped nuts from spices, syrup or honey. For the preparation of Baku baklava use wheat flour. In form, this baklava is a rhombus, on the surface of each of which a nut is putted. The Ganja baklava resembles a Baku baklava, however, pink infusion (Gulab) is necessarily added to its dough when cooking, and walnuts used for the filling are completely peeled, making baklava a light color.
Sheker-bura is a pastry made from crumbly dough filled with nuts with sugar and spices. Badam-bura differs from it in that the dough is puffy, and the filling, according to the name (Badam in Azerbaijani means almonds), must contain crushed almonds, mixed with sugar.
Another favorite delicacy of children and adults – Bamiya, is prepared from liquid dough, which is fried in deep fat in the form of ribbed sausages, and then soaked with syrup and dried.
And this is only a small part of sweets and desserts that are waiting for you in Azerbaijan!
There are countries in which canned food has long been turned into a tourist product. For example, in Portugal there are shops selling only canned fish in ingeniously designed collectible packaging at appropriate prices. And when leaving Latvia, the guests try to take the famous Riga sprats with them.
In Azerbaijan, canned food is an affordable product of daily demand, but the quality and assortment allow recommending them to everyone to grab the tastes of the Azerbaijani cuisine with them.
For example, on the shelves of most stores you will find canned “Mangal salad” (barbecue salad). It mixes chopped eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables, stewed over embers. You can also buy caviar from smoked eggplants, caviar from zucchini, fried eggplant slices, vegetable stew, pickled dogwood and blackthorn, dolma from grape or cabbage leaves and other delicacies of national and international cuisines.