Azerbaijani cuisine is the cooking styles and dishes of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The cuisine is influenced by the country's diversity of agriculture, from abundant grasslands which historically allowed for a culture of pastoralism to develop, as well as to the unique geographical location of the country, which is situated on the crossroads of Europe and Asia with access to the Caspian Sea. The location has enabled the people to develop a varied diet rich in produce, milk products, and meat, including beef, mutton, fish and game. The location, which was contested by many historical kingdoms, khanates, and empires, also meant that Azerbaijani cuisine was influenced by the culinary traditions of multiple different cultures, including Turkic, Iranian, and Eastern European.

History and features of Azerbaijani national cuisine

Azerbaijan's national cuisine is arguably closer to Middle Eastern cuisine due to the taste and preparation of the dishes, as well as adding a dark spice and flavor additives. Contemporary Azerbaijan cuisine retains the traditional methods of preparing dishes while incorporating modern cooking.[1]

Azerbaijani dishes have traditionally been cooked with copper utensils and cookware. Copper bowls and plates are still commonly used as serving dishes.[1]

Azerbaijani cuisine utilizes fruits and vegetables such as aubergine, tomato, sweet pepper, spinach, cabbage, onion, sorrel, beet, radish, cucumber, and green beans. Rice and products made from flour are widely used in national cuisine. Fresh herbs, including mint, coriander, dill, basil, parsley, tarragon, leek, chive, thyme, marjoram, green onion, and watercress often accompany main dishes. The majority of national dishes are made with lamb, beef and poultry meat. Dishes prepared of minced meat are also prevalent. The sea, lakes and rivers of Azerbaijan are abundant with different fish species, particularly the white sturgeon. Sturgeons are widely used in preparation of national dishes. Particularly, the Caspian Sea is home to many edible species of fish, including the sturgeon, Caspian salmon, kutum, sardines, grey mullet, and others. Black caviar from the Caspian Sea is one of Azerbaijan's best-known luxury foods.[1][2]

The typical Azerbaijani meal involves three courses. One of the basic dishes of Azerbaijani cuisine is plov prepared with saffron-covered rice, served with various herbs and greens, a combination distinct from those found in Uzbek plovs. Other second courses include a variety of kebabs and shashlik, including lamb, beef, chicken, duck and fish (baliq) kebabs. Sturgeon, a common fish, is normally skewered and grilled as a shashlik, served with a tart pomegranate sauce called narsharab. Dried fruits and walnuts are used in many dishes. The traditional condiments are salt, black pepper, sumac, and especially saffron, which is grown on the Absheron Peninsula domestically. The third courses include soups, of which there are more than 30 types. These include kufta bozbash, piti prepared of meat and dovga, ovdukh, dogramach, bolva prepared of greens and yoghurt.[3][4]

Black tea is the national beverage, and is drunk after food is eaten. It is also offered to guests as a gesture of welcome, often accompanied by fruit preserves.[4]


The Azerbaijani breakfast is heavy in dairy products such as butter, various types of white cheese, and cream, as well as honey, tandoori bread and eggs, traditionally prepared into kuku, but alternatively, also scrambled.[5] Eastern European breakfast traditions which were adopted under the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union are also occasionally seen in Azerbaijan households, with foods such as kasha, porridge, quark and crepes included on the breakfast table.

Light snacks

Azerbaijani light snacks

Azerbaijani cuisine has a number of light snacks and side dishes to open or accompany the main meals: a plate of green leaves called goy, pieces of chorek (bread), choban (a tomato and cucumber salad), white cheese or qatik (sour yogurt) and turshu (pickles).[6] This culinary tradition is comparable to Turkish meze. The richer main courses such as soups, meats and plov are served afterwards.[6]


Badımcan dolması
Azerbaijani dushbara


Azerbaijani cuisine included large amounts of beef and game. Consumption of camel meat was also widespread, although it has become increasingly rare in modern times. In order to preserve meat, it was historically jerked, or alternatively, roasted and stuffed into jars or animal stomachs. Apart from the cuts of meat, Azerbaijani cuisine features the use of head, legs, tails and intestines of animals in numerous dishes.[7]

Azerbaijani cuisine features a wide variety of traditional meat dishes such as bozbash (parchabozbash, kuftebozbash, qovurmabozbash), piti (gence piti, sheki piti) khash, bash-ayaq (kelle-pacha), kelepir, soyutma, bozport, buglama, bozartma, and a variety of different kebabs. A variety of lamb dishes are also commonly eaten, traditionally during celebrations such as Nowruz. Meatball dishes and forms of dolma are regularly eaten as well. On particularly special occasions, local goose, turkey, duck, quail and pheasant meats are also cooked and consumed.

Azerbaijani cuisine also features a variety of seafood, especially fish which is obtained from the Caspian Sea as well as the Kura and Aras rivers. Fish is prepared in a variety of ways: stuffed, chopped, dried, grilled, fried, boiled, cooked in the oven, cooked on skewers, cooked in tandoors, cooked into plovs, and in other ways depending on the occasion and personal preferences.[7]

Pork consumption is forbidden to Muslims in Azerbaijan, in accordance with Sharia, the Islamic law.

Name Description
Balıq Fish, usually sturgeon, normally skewered and grilled as a kebab, is served with a tart sour-plum sauce.
Dolma The traditional recipe calls for minced lamb or beef mixed with rice and flavoured with mint, fennel, and cinnamon, and wrapped in vine leaves (yarpaq dolması) or cabbage leaves (kələm dolması). There are also sour sweet cabbage dolma (turş şirin kələm dolması) and eggplant dolma (qarabadımcan dolması).
Badımcan Dolması Tomato, sweet pepper, and aubergine stuffed with minced lamb or beef mixed with chickpeas.
Dushbara Small dumplings stuffed with minced lamb and herbs, served in broth.
Lavangi stuffed chicken or fish with onions, walnuts, raisins, albukhara, and alcha seasoning. A specialty of the Talysh region in southern Azerbaijan, but very difficult to find common in restaurants.
Lula kebab A mixture of mutton, herbs, and spices squeezed around a skewer and barbecued, often served with lavash (thin sheets of unleavened bread).
Qutab A sort of pancake turnover stuffed with minced lamb, cheese, or spinach.
Tika kabab Chunks of lamb marinated in a mixture of onion, vinegar, and pomegranate juice, impaled on a large skewer and grilled on the barbecue. In Russian, it is called shashlyk (шашлык), from Turkic shishlyk (literally, "for skewer").
Qovurma Pieces of mutton or lamb on the bone (blade chops) stewed with onions, tomatoes, and saffron.[8] There is also sabzi qovurma, a lamb stew with herbs.
Sogan dolmasi The term dolma covers a variety of stuffed vegetable dishes, widespread in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Onion dolma are a tasty winter alternative to stuffed aubergines, tomatoes, and peppers.[9]
Tebriz kuftesi Large meatball dish named after the town of Tabriz in northern Iran. Prepared with minced meat, onions, peas, rice, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes, turmeric, and various herbs such as parsley, coriander and dill.
Bastirma The word "Bastir" comes from the Turkish: bastırma et ("pressed meat"), pastırma [pastɯɾˈma] in modern Turkish. It's cooked as a kebab, but before cooking it should be marinated in special sauce and herbs.


Soups in Azerbaijan tend to have a thicker consistency and a larger ratio of dry ingredients to broth.[7] A common feature of numerous Azerbaijani soups is that the soup serves the role of both the first and second courses[7] – the soup is served in a large portion and the broth is drunk first as a starter, and then the dry ingredients of the soup such as the potatoes, meat, chickpeas and large vegetable chunks are consumed as a second course together with bread.

Another characteristic featured in several Azerbaijani soups is the use of finely cut mutton tails which are added soups. Tomato paste and tomato puree are rarely used in Azerbaijani soups and instead are substituted with fresh local tomatoes during the summer.[7] During winter, local tomatoes are not widely available and so frequently substituted with dried cherries. Spices such as saffron and turmeric powder are also traditionally used in Azerbaijani soups.

Name Description
Piti The national soup of Azerbaijan made from pieces of mutton on the bone, cooked with vegetables in a broth; prepared and served in individual crocks.
Kufta bozbash A pea soup with lamb meatballs and boiled potatoes. The meatballs in kufta bozbash are large, hearty, and made of minced lamb or beef and rice, sometimes with a dried plum inside.
Dovga A yogurt-based soup with sorrel, spinach, rice, dried peas, and small meatballs made from ground mutton; served hot or cold depending on the season.[10]
Ovdukh A cold soup based on a yogurt–water mixture poured over sliced cucumbers, chopped boiled meat, quarters of hard-boiled egg, and greens (dill, coriander, basil, tarragon, and sometimes mint).[11]
Dogramach Same as ovdukh, but without the meat.[11]

Types of plov

Azerbaijani pilaf. Left: gara (lamb, halved apricots, plums, apricot seeds). Right: rice (partially colored with turmeric).
Shah pilaf[12]
Lula kebab

Plov is one of the most widespread dishes in Azerbaijan and there are over 200 types of plovs in Azerbaijani cuisine. They are usually prepared with local vegetables, meats and spices. In Azerbaijani tradition, it is customary that the household prepares a plov for guests visiting the house.[13] They are typically served in a large metal or porcelain bowl covered with a lid to keep it warm. The type of rice used to make the plov varies from one recipe to another and depends on personal preferences. Since plov is a heavy, fatty food, it is traditionally served together with sour drinks such as ayran, black tea with lemon, or verjuice. Plovs have different names depending on the main ingredients accompanying the rice:

Name Ingredients
Kourma plov Mutton plov with onion
Chilov plov Bean plov with fish
Sabzi qovurma plov Mutton plov
Toyug plov Chicken plov
Shuyudli plov Dill plov with beef
Shirin plov Dried fruit plov
Syudli plov Rice cooked in milk
Sheshryanch plov Six-color plov, eggs cooked "sunny side up" on a bed of fried green and white onions.[10]

Azerbaijani plov consists of three distinct components, served simultaneously but on separate platters: first component is rice (warm, never hot), the second component is gara, consisting of fried meat, dried fruits, eggs, or fish prepared as an accompaniment to rice, and third component being aromatic herbs. Rice is not mixed with the other components even when eating plov.[14]


Spices play an important role in Azerbaijani cuisine, especially saffron which is used in over 50 national dishes.[15] Other spices widely used in Azerbaijani cuisine include anise, cumin, cinnamon, thyme, coriander seeds, curcuma, sumac, caraway, bay leaves, mint, dill, parsley, celery, tarragon, and basil.[16]


Quba pakhlavasi

Typical Azerbaijani desserts are sticky, syrup-saturated pastries such as pakhlava and Shaki halva. The former, a layer of chopped nuts sandwiched between mats of thread-like fried dough, is a specialty of Shaki in northwest Azerbaijan. Other traditional pastries include shekerbura (crescent-shaped and filled with nuts), peshmak (tube-shaped candy made out of rice, flour, and sugar), and girmapadam (pastry filled with chopped nuts).

Sweets are generally bought from a pastry shop and eaten at home or on special occasions such as weddings and wakes. The usual conclusion to a restaurant meal is a plate of fresh fruit that is in season, such as plums, cherries, apricots, or grapes.

In March 2009, Azerbaijani bakers achieved an entry in the CIS book of records for baking the biggest and heaviest pakhlava in the CIS, weighing about 3 tons. More than 7 thousand eggs, 350 kg of nuts, 20 kg of almonds, 350 kg of sugar, and the same amount of flour was used in the preparation of the pastry.[18]

Name Description
Pakhlava Azerbaijani baklava consists of pastry, cardamom, and saffron are used for the preparation. Nuts (mostly hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts) and sugar are used as the filling, and syrup is used as a sweetener.[19] There are some regional variations, like Quba, Ganja, Tenbel and Sheki baklava.[20][21][22]
Shekerbura Shekerbura (şəkərbura) is a popular Azerbaijani sweet pastry, filled with ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts. The ancient name for this crescent-shaped pastry is Sheker Burek, a Turkic word meaning ‘sweet patty’. In Azerbaijan, it usually involves the teamwork of relatives, friends, and neighbors who congregate at someone's home to make this. Nowruz delights. What really makes these look rather spectacular is the pattern on the dough produced by the traditional tweezers called maggash.
Samani halva Samani halva is made from malted wheat, and can be best described as a spicy, gooey, chewy treat. One samani halva tradition in Azerbaijan is to make halva communally, using flour from seven different homes.[23]
Shorgoghal Another Novruz delicacy, Shorgoghal is a flaky pastry filled with turmeric, anise, caraway, cinnamon and black pepper. In ancient times, the yellow pastry represented the sun, while the crescent-shaped Shekerbura represented the moon. These rolls are time-consuming to prepare, but the process is not really complicated.
Guymag This is a simple, rich dessert, traditionally offered to women who have just given birth or to patients after surgery to keep their strength up. It is high in calories and easy to prepare. It is also served as a hot breakfast when the weather is cold.
Firni Firni is a dessert made from rice flour, which has a light texture and bland flavor, making it much lighter than British and North American baked rice puddings.[24]
Badambura Badambura is slightly less sweet than pakhlava and has no honey so it is less sticky as well. It is filled with plain ground sugar, almonds (badam in Azerbaijani language), cardamom, and vanilla.[25]

Dairy products


Milk and dairy products play an important role in the Azerbaijani diet. Milk, butter, cream, sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, buttermilk, dovga, ayran, qatiq, qurut, suzme, and other dairy products are regularly consumed in the morning, as a snack, and even incorporated into lunch and dinner. Cow's milk is most often used to produce local dairy products, however sheep's milk is also sometimes used and goats' milk is consumed for its perceived health benefits. Rural communities in Azerbaijan produce local butter, buttermilk and cheeses using traditional churning techniques.

Name Description
Ayran A savory dairy drink. It is a staple of an Azerbaijani dinner/lunch table and is served cold.
Qatiq A fermented, savory milk product. It is typically eaten with Qutabs or with bread.
Qurut It is made from grain mixed with sour milk or yogurt.
Dovga A vegetarian, yoghurt-based soup cooked with a variety of herbs. Coriander, dill, mint and rice are mainstays of the soup.
Shor Azerbaijani cottage cheese.
Suzme Creamy, fatty dairy product made from filtered and thickened qatiq.
Xinaliq pendiri Khinalug cheese, produced in the ancient village of Khinalug. It is one of the most popular cheeses in Azerbaijan.
Motal pendiri Motal cheese. Another type of cheese widely consumed in Azerbaijan.


Salyan çörəyi (tandoor bread)

Different types of bread are baked in Azerbaijan: flat, rolling, flatbread, lavash, sengek, xamrali, thick, thin, crepes, cakes, and tandoor bread. In the Middle Ages, tandoor ovens were one of the common facilities of the population who lived in Old City (Icheri Sheher). This has been discovered during the archaeological excavations in different areas of Old City. During the meeting held in Ethiopia, the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage decided to include lavash in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the organization.[26][27]

Non-alcoholic beverages

Black tea in armudu stekan (pear-shaped glasses)

Black tea is a popular drink in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani people usually prefer tea made in a samovar. Jam (Murabba) is often added to the tea as a sweetener.

Ayran is a cold yogurt beverage mixed with salt.

An Azerbaijani sherbet (Azerbaijani: şərbət) is a sweet cold drink made of fruit juice mixed or boiled with sugar, often perfumed with rose water. Sherbets (not to be confused with sorbet ices) are of Iranian origin and they may differ greatly in consistency, from very thick and jam-like (as in Tajik cuisine) to very light and liquid, as in Azerbaijan.[28] Sherbets are typically prepared in the following natural flavors:

Locally made brands of bottled water include the following:[30]

Brand Origin Originating area
Badamlı Badamli, Nakhchivan
Sirab Sirab, Nakhchivan
Şollar Şollar village North-east
Tamiz gazh su
Qax Qakh district North[31]

Alcoholic beverages

Unlike multiple other countries with a predominantly Muslim population, alcohol consumption in Azerbaijan is entirely legal, and a variety of alcoholic drinks, both locally produced and imported can be found in shops and bars across the country. Although alcohol consumption in Azerbaijan is relatively moderate,[32] alcoholic drinks still play a part in nightlife, festivities and celebrations.


Chabiant Azerbaijani wine

Main article: Azerbaijani wine

Azerbaijan produces wine locally. In the Khanlar district of the Azerbaijan Republic, for example, archeologists have found jars buried with the remains of wine dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. One of the most ancient and notable regions known for its wine-making produce is Tovuz in northwestern Azerbaijan. Archeological findings in this region speak of ancient vessels for wine storage, stones and remains of tartaric acid used for wine-growing.[33]

The contemporary wine-making in Azerbaijan is seen in Ganja-Qazakh and Shirvan economic zones.[34] Vineyards in these regions account to about 7% of the country's cultivated land. The regions are famous for 17 vines and 16 table grape varieties, the most common of the wine cultivars being Pinot Noir.[35] In Azerbaijan, wines made from grapes are called sharab (Azerbaijani: şərab) while wines from other fruits including apples, pomegranates and mulberry are called nabiz (Azerbaijani: nəbiz). Other sorts are called chakhyr (Azerbaijani: çaxır). According to historians, there are more than 450 different categories of wild grape found in Azerbaijan which had been used for wine-making throughout the history of Azerbaijan.[36]


Main article: Beer in Azerbaijan

Beer in Azerbaijan is typified by lighter lagers. Of the domestically produced beers, the most widely distributed is Xirdalan named after the city of Xırdalan in Azerbaijan, formerly brewed by Baki-Castel (BGI) but bought by Baltika in 2008. In February 2017 company was renamed to Carlsberg Azerbaijan.[37] As a sponsor of Baku's Eurovision Song Contest, Xirdalan issued special commemorative Eurovision cans and bottles in 2012. Other widespread, locally produced brands include Novxanı, NZS, Afsana and Annenfeld. Beer popularity continues to grow in Azerbaijan as of 2018 and there are plans to fully localize malt processing for beer production, with a new malt processing plant being planned to be launched in 2024.[38] Unlike almost all CIS countries, the beer bottles in Azerbaijan are marked with excise duty sticker.

Fruit preserves

Fruit preserves of all kinds, traditionally served alongside tea, are a ubiquitous sighting at family gatherings and festivities in Azerbaijan. Jams, jellies, and especially fruit conserves are eaten in between sips of tea or sometimes placed directly into tea as a sweetener and a flavoring.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Cuisine – Assistance Tour". Retrieved 2023-10-29.
  2. ^ "Əsas yeməklər -". Retrieved 2023-10-29.
  3. ^ @NatGeoUK (2022-06-08). "Azerbaijan: the seven dishes that define a nation". National Geographic. Retrieved 2023-10-29.
  4. ^ a b Based on the book Azerbaijani Cooking Archived 2009-02-16 at the Wayback Machine, Ishyg Publ. House, Baku (in Russian)
  5. ^ "Taste of traditional breakfast". 2018-05-25. Archived from the original on 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2021-02-20.
  6. ^ a b "7 Foods You Have to Try in Azerbaijan: The Best of Azerbaijani Food". Ashley Abroad Travel Blog. 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Azərbaycan mətbəxi". Azərbaycan Respublikası Mədəniyyət Nazirliyi. Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  8. ^ "Lamb Cuisine Page – Catskill Merino Sheep Farm". Archived from the original on 1 June 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  9. ^ "News.Az – Sogan dolmasi – Onion dolma". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  10. ^ a b Azerbaijan cookery by category of dishes Archived 2018-05-10 at the Wayback Machine, a section of Large Guide to Home Cooking (in Russian)
  11. ^ a b Dogramach and ovdukh Archived October 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine: recipes for Azerbaijani soups (in Russian).
  12. ^ "Shah pilaf".
  13. ^ "MİLLİ KULİNARİYANIN ÖZƏLLİKLƏRİ". Region Plus. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  14. ^ Interview with Jabar Mamedov Archived 2008-12-21 at the Wayback Machine, Head Chef at the "Shirvan Shah" Azerbaijani restaurant in Kiev, 31 January 2005.
  15. ^ "Delicious Azerbaijani cuisine". Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  16. ^ "Essential herbs and spices in Azerbaijani cuisine". 2018-08-17. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  17. ^ Once in a Lifetime Journey (11 November 2019). "The Food Azerbaijan Food".
  18. ^ "Huge pakhlava hits record in Ganja" Archived March 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine on Retrieved on 17 March 2009
  19. ^ "Азербайджанская пахлава". 2009-03-24. Archived from the original on 2020-01-25. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  20. ^ "A tasty journey through Azerbaijan: Sheki and Ganja cuisine". Azerbaijan State News Agency. Archived from the original on 2019-10-22. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  21. ^ "Tenbel Baklava".
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  28. ^ "Рецепты таджикской кухни – Шербеты". Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  29. ^ a b Recipes for lemon and mint sherbets (in Russian)
  30. ^ Mineral Waters of the World: Azerbaijan [dead link]
  31. ^ Qakh or Kakh mineral water Archived April 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ WHO Global status report on alcohol and health 2014 (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-02-16.
  33. ^ "Ancient Wines - Exactly What the Doctor Ordered - Farid Alakbarov". Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  34. ^ "Azerbaijan: A Cultural Crossroads | Diplomat Magazine". 2012-03-24. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  35. ^ "Cuisine and Wine of Azerbaijan". Concord Travel Georgia. Archived from the original on 2011-05-13.
  36. ^ Goble, Paul (2008-01-07). "WindowonEurasia: Window on Eurasia: 'Not By Oil Alone'— Azerbaijan's Wine Industry Bounces Back". WindowonEurasia. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  37. ^ "Carlsberg Azerbaijan". Carlsberg Azerbaijan. Retrieved 2023-10-29.
  38. ^ "New barley processing plant used for beer production to open in Azerbaijan". Trend.Az. 2023-01-18. Retrieved 2023-10-29.