Today, we will travel to Azerbaijan, the land of fire, hospitality, and friendship. Most people know that Azerbaijan is rich in oil and gas reserves, but there is more than it in this mesmerizing land. Although it covers just 86600 square kilometers, the land is unique and fertile. Azerbaijan has 9 out of 11 climate zones, and that is why almost everything grows here. When you travel to the north, you will see high snowy mountains. On the other hand, you will find a subtropical climate and tea plantations in the south. Of course, these features affect Azerbaijan national cuisine in a positive way and expand variation. What is Azerbaijani food? After reading this blog, you will find an answer to this question and will get the top 10 Azerbaijan food recipes.
If you want to taste delicious Azerbaijani cuisine, you should obtain a visa. Do I need an Azerbaijan visa? You can learn it by checking the visa-free country list. If you are not eligible for the visa-waiver program, you should apply for one of the following visa types:
- E-visa. Tourists who want to travel to Azerbaijan for temporary reasons can apply for an E-visa. Unfortunately, not all nationalities are eligible for the online version of the application. You will enter the official website, fill the application form, provide documents, and pay the visa application fee. It is 25 USD for single entry visas (the charge may vary). After finishing all the steps, you will receive your visa by email within several days. Also, you can fasten the process by paying an additional charge.
- Short-stay Visa. If you are not eligible for an E-visa, you can apply for a Short-stay visa. Differ from the online version, you will make your application in visa application centers, embassies, or consulates. The list of required documents, the application fee, and the processing time varies from E-visa. You will pay 20-35 USD and wait for almost three weeks for processing.
- Long-term Visa. Foreigners who want to work, study or reunite with their family (who live in Azerbaijan) can apply for a long-stay visa. Being a visa-waiver nationality is not an exception for long-stay visas. All foreign nationalities must realize their application. Applying for a long-term Azerbaijan visa is not available abroad for some nationalities. Those people must obtain a short-term visa and apply for a long-term in Azerbaijan. Keep in mind that the reason for an application for a long term and short-term must be the same.
- Transit Visa. All foreigners who transit from Azerbaijan can do it without obtaining a visa until they wait for a maximum of 24 hours. If the time exceeds 24 hours or you leave the international airport area, you should apply for a visa.
You can check the "Services" section on our website to travel to Azerbaijan and obtain more information about the visa procedure.
What is Azerbaijani food? I can say that Azerbaijani cuisine is one of the world's richest and most delicious ones. Unfortunately, most people worldwide are unaware of the treasure in the Caucasus region. That is why I believe that this blog will be very beneficial for our readers. If you ask, what is the main ingredient of the local cuisine? I can answer the meat. Azerbaijani people love to eat meat, and you can see this ingredient in most dishes. As most of the population identifies themselves as Muslim, they prefer to eat lamb and beef.
Pilav plays an exceptional role in Azerbaijan culture food. Although it has more than 50 types, the most popular is Shah Pilav. Of course, local people like to eat pilav in daily life, but mostly they cook it during the special days. Celebration or wedding without Pilav is not even imaginable for Azerbaijanis. Even there is a special part for pilav in weddings. Dancers bring pilav with traditional dances and serve it to the groom and bride. What is a recipe? It is one of the richest recipes among all Azerbaijan food recipes. Ingredients in Shah Pilav are rice, chicken (meat), raisins, dried apricots, roasted chestnuts, various dried fruits, and nuts. As there are various ingredients, each spoon from the meal will be a different experience for you.
Dolma (grape leaves)
Among all the dishes in Azerbaijan national cuisine, dolma is my favorite. Probably most of you at least saw it, because it is popular in Eastern Europe and Mediterranean cuisine. Each nation adds some uniqueness, but general features are always the same. Actually, the word "dolma" means to fill in the Azerbaijani language (short version of "doldurmaq").
To prepare dolma, you need meat, rice, spices, and onion. After mixing all these ingredients, you will stuff them into grape leaves. If you want to make them on your own, there is no need to make them big. Generally, bite-size is enough. Align stuffed grape leaves into a saucepan, add some water and cook it for an hour. Finally, it is ready to serve. Also, you can pour yogurt on your meal after serving.
It has been one of the favorite foods of locals for centuries. Cooking a Piti requires high cooking skills and patience because cooking lasts for hours. Differ from most other meals, it is cooked in special ceramic pots. Thanks to this unique cooking style and ingredients, it has a juicy and delicious taste. The main ingredients to make a Piti are lamb, chestnuts, chickpeas, plums, spices, and so on. You can find this meal all over the country, but the best place to try is Sheki.
The next Azerbaijan traditional food on our list is Buglama which means "steamed" in the local language. Being one of the main dishes of the daily diet, Buglama is made of lamb slices, onions, black pepper, peppers, bay leaves, and tomatoes. Lamb slices and other ingredients are cooked for two hours in their own juice. Although it is mostly made with lamb, there is a chicken version, too. Regardless of the version that you try, I do not doubt that you will like it.
We can call this the national fast-food of Azerbaijan. Generally, Gutab is cooked on plots called saj in the Azerbaijani language. First of all, thin slices are prepared from flour pastry. After that, meat, greens, and cheese are filled into saj bread. It is generally served with sumac and yogurt. You can find Gulab in all cities, regions of the country. Besides ordering in a cafe, you can buy them on the street, from supermarkets, and so on.
If you travel to southern regions of Azerbaijan, like Lankaran, Astara, don't forget to try Lavangi. This delicious food of Azerbaijan is filled with fish or chicken with various ingredients. The main ingredients to stuffing are onions, walnuts, and different seasonings. After filling fish or chicken, it is put in the oven and baked for several hours. Although all chicken sorts can be used for Lavangi, there are certain types of fish for fish Lavangi. Mostly used kinds are kutum and asp.
As in Turkey, Azerbaijan has its own kebabs, which are very popular throughout the country. Like Shah Pilav, kebab is an unbreakable part of celebrations and weddings. If someone calls you as a guest, be sure to have a kebab on the table. It has various types, such as tike, lule and so on. Generally, people prefer meat kebabs, but also there are chicken and vegetable kebabs. You can order it in all cafes and restaurants, and the price changes between 3-10 USD.
Dushbara is Azerbaijan traditional food, but many countries have similar meals in their cuisines. Dushbara is small, dough dumplings stuffed with meat and herbs. Unlike the types you can find in other countries, hat-like shapes, being small and delicate make Dushbara different. You may have yogurt, garlic, and vinegar with it. I guess that you will eat several plates of Dushbara after trying it for once.
It is another example of the best food in Azerbaijan. It is a yogurt soup that contains various herbs (dill, coriander, and so on). Also, in some places, you can try Dovga with chickpeas. Some people don't like that type, but I think it is delicious if you ask me. You can eat it as a main meal or drink it on hot summer days to cool. Besides drinking in summer, you can try the hot version in winter.
I want to finish my Azerbaijan culture food with Saj Ichi. It is another meal that has been eaten in Azerbaijan for years. I can describe it as an Azerbaijani-style barbecue. Like in Gutab, it is cooked on a saj (copper, clay pots). Various types of meat, liver, and heart for cooking Saj Ichi. People like to have it when gathering with friends, going to a picnic, etc.
When you visit my motherland, hospitable people, tasty meals, the beautiful country will welcome you. Taste all of these meals and prepare your list of the best meals of Azerbaijani cuisine.