Bordering Iran, Russia and Georgia, with a stunning coastline along the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is easily accessible from Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia. An eastern country with a western outlook, Azerbaijan is supported by a rich history that dates back 5000 years and a composite culture that has evolved with time. Once home to thousands of travellers through the Great Silk Road, its cuisine is influenced by many cultures and tells a tale of its versatile past as well as its generous climates, which grows some of the most delicious fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Reflecting the Azerbaijani culture, the cuisine offers a spectacular fusion of delicacies, from fruity sauces to juice mutton-based meals and more. With a variety of dishes to suit all dietary preferences and lifestyles, one is sure to have lots of fun exploring and tasting the flavors of the country.
The diversity of Azerbaijan’s geography offers travellers several possibilities throughout the year. With Instagram-worthy memories and moments, an extraordinary range of destinations and a gastronomic adventure, Azerbaijan promises a warm welcome and unforgettable experiences for any kind of holiday, for every kind of traveller.
Azerbaijan’s unique geography and location have resulted in it developing a specific cuisine that is influenced by the variety of its local produce and ingredients, and by the details of the people that have passed through it.
A local favourite, plov, is rice served with meat, fish or fruit. The saffron-flavoured rice is cooked with lots of fresh herbs, vegetables, dried fruits and more. Some cooking books offer over 40 different versions of Plov. The dish is highly regarded, so much so that there is even an International Plov festival to celebrate this hearty meal. Every Azerbaijani holiday, whether it is the celebration of springtime – Novruz Bayram, or a special occasion such as a birthday or any other important family event, always includes plov.
Pakhlava, symbolizes stars in the sky, is a festive dish made for Novruz – the traditional celebration of the coming of spring. The classic pakhlava is cut into diamonds and is sure to be relished by gourmands. In Sheki, it is in known as halva, which comes in squares, while in Gabala it is triangular and called “uchgulag”, which translates into three ears.
Caviar and Fish
Caspian fish has its own special taste and is best served with narsherab (pomegranate sauce). The most famous fish in Azerbaijan is the Beluga sturgeon. Known as one of the world`s most expensive delicacies, the Beluga sturgeon doesn’t reach its reproductive age till they are about 20 years old.
The ultimate way to experience traditional Azerbaijani food is at a caravanserai. These were the hotels of the medieval merchants travelling through the Silk Road, and now offer sumptuous banquets with a flare.