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Spotlight Article

Traditional Azerbaijani Cuisine

Azerbaijan America Alliance
November 10, 2014

Azerbaijan’s diverse climate and geographic location have allowed a rich and unique culinary tradition to emerge. With nine out of the eleven climate zones known to the world represented within its borders, Azerbaijan has an abundance and variety of vegetables and greens featured in their traditional dishes.  The Caspian Sea is also a resource for fish including sturgeon, Caspian salmon, kutum, sardines, and grey mullet. However, the most popular fruit of the Caspian Sea is its Black Caviar, which is famous globally.  These remarkable agricultural resources were then caught in the convergence of eastern and western cuisine. With this variety of influences and beautiful ingredients, it is no wonder the Azerbaijani culinary tradition is so rich.

On November 12, 2014 the Azerbaijan America Alliance will be hosting its third annual gala dinner. In Washington, DC, esteemed guests from America’s capital including representatives form the Obama administration, the diplomatic corps, the United States Congress, the business and the think tank community will enjoy traditional Azerbaijani cuisine and entertainment. This year’s menu features a variety of traditional dishes.

The meal will begin with a Caspian salad featuring frisee lettuce topped with stuffed chicken and caramelized pecans. Then our guests will enjoy an Azerbaijani classic, Dolma. Dolmas are stuffed vegetable dishes common to the Caucasus region, Middle East, and Balkans. Common vegetables to stuff for Dolma’s are tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, and eggplants. The most common variety of Azerbaijani Dolma is a grape leaf Dolma, which will be featured as the first entrée of the gala dinner. This Dolma will be a meat Dolma with lamb, mint, and yogurt sauce.

 

The second entrée of the evening will be rack of lamb. The lamb will be served with sautéed gape tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and fingerling potatoes. The final entrée will be Shah Plov, a traditional rice dish. Azerbaijani cuisine has more than 40 different variations of this traditional dish because the basic canvas of rice Plov is used to feature the great variety of flavors available in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijan America Alliance will be serving a Plov made from basmati rice with chicken, flavored by chestnuts, dried fruits, and apricot sauce. Plov is traditionally served on special occasions in Azerbaijan, making it a perfect last entrée for the Azerbaijan America Alliance’s biggest celebration of the year. 

For dessert our guests will be able to sample Shekerbura, Bakhlava, Mutaki, and Kyata, all traditional pasties from Azerbaijan, in addition to dried fruit. The meal will finish with black tea, the national drink of Azerbaijan.

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