Azerbaijan: Azeri Kitchen
While the food historically shares many characteristics with its neighboring countries, like Iran, Armenia, and Russia, Azeri cuisine has a flavor all its own. Pomegranates are an example of this: while they are a rarity in other areas of the world, they are a typical fruit in Azerbaijan, where they grow in the country’s tropical regions. Their taste is tangy but sweet, and their seeds offer an intriguing texture to every dish.
Fresh herbs are also common in Azeri cooking. You’ll find mint, dill, basil, parsley, and tarragon in many Azeri lamb and seafood dishes. Even though it’s considered exotic and expensive in America, saffron is a popular spice here. This bright yellow seasoning comes from a type of flower, and it’s used in more than 50 of the country’s popular dishes.
Since Azerbaijan is bordered to the west by the Caspian Sea, fish are a prevalent part of the cuisine, too. There are a myriad of ways to prepare these dishes. For instance, Fish Levenghi is prepared by stuffing Caspian white fish with a mixture of finely ground walnuts, stewed onions, pomegranate sauce, and seedless grapes.
At the table, an Azeri meal traditionally includes many different courses, which means that once you sit down, you’d better be ready to settle in for at least an hour.