Varied and distinctive cuisine of Azerbaijan
Pilaf with fragrant saffron, juicy kebabs roasted over coals, freshly-caught fish, and sweet fruit and honey for dessert - Azerbaijan’s cuisine is full of flavors and surprises. The cuisine in Azerbaijan is a vital part of the country and its culture. The flavors and ingredients used reflect the foods that can be grown or found in Azerbaijan, as well as the trading connections that brought new tastes to the Caucasus from far and wide. Even the cooking techniques used reflect the local lifestyle and customs, and the names of the dishes in Azerbaijani cuisine come from the terms used in Azerbaijani.
Hospitality is a large part of Azerbaijani culture, and cuisine is no exception. Guests are treated to an abundance of dishes, and turning down more and more servings can be seen as rude (even if you’re too full to eat more). Food holds a sacred place, and sharing food with another person creates a strong bond. Food culture is so rich that dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and its central place in Azerbaijani culture and families have been recognized in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Many dishes are delicious and healthy, which is why Azerbaijan is a country of centenarians. Beef and mutton are common, as are poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables. Spices include dill, coriander, mint, chives and basil can be found in many of the dishes, giving them full and rich flavors. The result is a wide variety of dishes that are substantial and nutritious, full of familiar and unusual flavors.
But don’t think that this is a whole list - there are endless foods to try in Azerbaijan. Whether you want a hearty soup (like piti) or a quick snack (kutab) or something to satisfy a sweet tooth (baklava), you’ll find plenty to explore. And the more you travel around Azerbaijan, the more you’ll discover, since each region (and each cook) has their own recipes that bring out new flavors and delights.