taste the different regions of Azerbaijan

Infused with the Caucasus Mountains, Caspian Sea and multiple climate zones, our national cuisine is a fabulous fusion of flavours. 

From aromatic spices brought here along the Silk Road to dishes with over 40 different variations (namely plov!), we’ve got something to surprise and delight all taste buds. Moreover, our cuisine changes from region to region in accordance with local history, culture and geography. Here are five amazing dishes for which certain parts of Azerbaijan are famous.

Lankaran’s lavangi

Lankaran’s lavangi

Few regions in Azerbaijan are as famous for their local gastronomy as Lankaran. This southern region’s culinary traditions have been shaped by the proximity of the Caspian Sea and Talish Mountains along with the subtropical climate and large local Talish population. A trip here will reward you with fantastically flavoursome citrus fruits and glasses of aromatic tea, both of which are grown locally. You’ll also inevitably be treated to a dish called lavangi, which is made from either chicken or fish stuffed with a scrumptious walnut and plum paste mixed with raisins, onions, and herbs. After cooking in foil over hot coals in a traditional clay tandir oven, it is quite simply delicious!

Gabala’s dasharasi kebab

Gabala’s dasharasi kebab

The north-westerm region of Gabala is another fantastic place where you can enjoy the beauty of the Caucasus Mountains. The most famous culinary creation here is a specific type of kebab. Kebabs are a staple of Azerbaijani cuisine and boasts a similar number of varieties as the rice-based dish plov. It’s made from meat, fish or vegetables rotated and sizzled over a barbecue (mangal). Gabala has a version called dasharasi kebabs. Dasharasi literally means ‘between stones’, which is exactly how the lamb is cooked – an ancient method devised long ago by shepherds. Moreover, the stones are a special sort that have been battered flat over centuries by thunderstorms in the Caucasus Mountains.

Sheki’s piti

Sheki’s piti

Located in north-western Azerbaijan at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, Sheki boasts not only a UNESCO-listed old town but also several local culinary specialties, notably sweets like Sheki halva and bamiya which are sold at colourful sweetshops dotted around the city. However,  the must-try dish is piti – a lamb stew served in a small clay pot. Chickpeas, chestnuts, saffron and local spices pack it with flavour, but the most interesting feature is the way it’s consumed. This is actually two courses in one dish: first you pour the broth into a bowl as a soup starter and then you mash up the rest in the pot before scooping it onto a plate for a meaty main course.

Baku’s gutab

Baku’s gutab

Azerbaijan’s capital is a fabulous mix of East and West, ancient and modern with some unique local dishes. When in Baku you should try local dumpling dishes like dushbara and gurza, and especially something called gutab. These are stuffed pancakes, which can be large or small and include any number of fillings, from cheese and herbs to pumpkin and lamb; you can even opt for camel meat. As you stroll around the city centre, peer into local restaurants and bakeries and you’ll probably see gutabs sizzling away on a saj, a type of disc-shaped frying pan.

Gusar’s tskan

Gusar’s tskan

The Gusar region of north-eastern Azerbaijan has a particularly large population of Lezgis, an ancient people of the Caucasus region with a unique language and culture, including some unique culinary elements. One of the most famous local dishes is tskan, a meat pie stuffed with potatoes, cabbage, walnuts, onions, a sprinkling of thyme and lots of butter. It’s hot, heavy and packed full of calories and therefore an ideal winter warmer in the snowy Caucasus Mountains.

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