tea and food in azerbaijan

The food in Azerbaijan is full of flavour and guaranteed to be a true highlight of your visit.

Food in Azerbaijan – 10 Most Popular Dishes

1) Dolma

The world dolma means “stuffed”. It is a family of stuffed dishes common in Caucasian, Eastern Mediterranean, Iranian and Balkan cuisines. Dolma can be served cold or warm and it’s my favourite food in Azerbaijan and in other regions of the world. 

Dolma is vine or cabbage leaves stuffed with diced meat, rice, onions, fresh herbs such as mint, dill and coriander, salt & pepper and butter. This tasty food in Azerbaijan has more than 25 variations depending on the season and the region. 

Badymdjan dolmasi are eggplant, tomatoes and pepper dolma filled with the above ingredients – a wonderful food of Azerbaijan.

Dolma food in Azerbaijan
Yarpaq Dolmasi – Delicious food in Azerbaijan

2) Lahmacun

Lahmacun translates to “dough with meat.” Pronounced “lah-ma-joun”, it’s a word I learned to say very quickly during my visit as I love this food in Azerbaijan. I’d describe lahmacun as thin, crispy pizza topped with a spiced minced meat combination and is usually served with either fresh parsley or salad and a wedge of lemon.

Before consuming the lahmacun, squeeze the lemon inside, add the herbs/salad and fold over and eat while it’s hot. It’s the ultimate street food of Azerbaijan. 

Lahmacun is filling, cheap and highly enjoyable – so don’t miss trying this food in Azerbaijan if you get the chance to visit. 

It is also popular in the Levant region (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan) where the Ottoman Empire once extended. This dish is known by a different name in other countries, but I can tell you from experience, it is always a pleasure to eat.

I enjoyed the variation of lahmacun in Syria, called ‘sfiha’. Read more about the food I loved the most in Syria.

Lahmacun food in azerbaijan
Lahmacun – Street food in Azerbaijan

3) Lamb Stew with chestnuts and dried fruit

Lamb or veal stew with chestnuts and dried fruit is a popular food of Azerbaijan. It’s a perfectly balanced sweet and sour stew often served with rice pilaf. This is a dish you must try in Azerbaijan before you leave.

The secret ingredient to create this wonderful stew is albukhara, a tangy dried fruit that adds the sour element to the dish. Once dried apricots, raisins and chestnuts are added, the sweetness from these ingredients creates the balanced flavour of the stew.

I love it and as soon as I took the first mouthful, it reminded me of some fantastic meals I ate when travelling in IranThis makes perfect sense as Iran borders Azerbaijan and both countries have fantastic cuisine.

RELATED POST: Masouleh; A Beautiful Rooftop Village in Iran

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4) Baliq Kebab

Baliq (fish) is a popular food in Azerbaijan. Fish caught in the Caspian sea (usually salmon & sturgeon) can be eaten fried whole or cut into chunks, marinated, skewered, and grilled. The marinade is typically a blend of chopped parsley, dill, lemon juice, and salt. This is a common blend of flavours of the food of Azerbaijan.

5) Plov

plov dish food in Azerbaijan
Plov rice pilau dish – Enjoyable food in Azerbaijan

Plov is known as the national dish of Azerbaijan. This is also a popular dish in other Central Asian and Eastern European countries. Azerbaijani plov uses saffron-flavoured rice cooked with lamb, aromatic herbs, dried chestnuts, apricots, onion, garlic, carrots and cumin. 

I enjoyed this delicious ‘Shah plov’ at Xezer Restaurant in Baku. I’d recommend this restaurant for those looking to try delicious food in Azerbaijan. 

The crispy exterior you see below is made with lavash, a thin and soft wheat-based flatbread, and it was delicious. This is the kind of food of Azerbaijan that I’d return for.

plov food in Azerbaijan
Plov is one of my favourite types of food in Azerbaijan

6) Sadj

The food in Azerbaijan maintains some ancient cooking methods. Clay or copper pots are traditionally used and provide a unique flavour to the dish. One Azerbaijani dish which is still cooked and served in a special pan is Sadj. Meat and vegetables are cooked together in the sadj, with tail fat from lamb to add flavour and colour.

It is served from the stove to the table on the pan, usually with the coals burning underneath to keep it hot.

Try the best lamb sadj at Beer Bakal restaurant & lounge in Nakhchivan.

sadj food of Azerbaijan
Sadj is a very popular food of Azerbaijan

7) Kebab

Our list of the most popular food in Azerbaijan wouldn’t be complete without kebabs. These are a much-loved local favourite in Azerbaijani cuisine. You will find similarities between kebabs here and in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. 

Different meats and vegetables are seasoned with spices, skewered and then chargrilled. 

I enjoyed Lyulya kebab the most. It’s a special kebab variety popular throughout the Caucasus region, consisting of minced lamb, salt and pepper, herbs, and finely diced onions. It is then skewered and chargrilled. 

The preparation of kneading the meat for a long time makes this variety of kebabs so unique. They hold together much better and the texture is much softer when eaten.

8) Pakhlava (baklava)

Much of the sweet food in Azerbaijan features natural ingredients such as nuts, honey and dried fruit. Azerbaijani desserts vary from region to region, and pakhlava, (also known as baklava), is the most popular of the nation’s sweets.

Pakhlava is a rich dessert made of thin filo pastry layered with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey or syrup. It has a unique diamond shape and you can find many variations of this sweet in Azerbaijan. 

This sweet was one of the most popular sweet pastries of Ottoman cuisine, and again you will find ‘baklava’ in several other countries. 

pakhlava food in Azerbaijan
Pakhlava (baklava. Fantastic sweet food in Azerbaijan. Credit: commons.Wikimedia

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9) Qutab

Qutab is a crispy moon-shaped stuffed flatbread with a variety of fillings. Minced meat, cheese and herbs or spinach are most common.

These delicious packages are usually served with lemon & herbed yoghurt, or fresh sumac and chilli sauce for those who like a little spice.

qutab food in Azerbaijan
Qutab – a great snack food in Azerbaijan. Credit: Nakhchivan Travel

10) Piti

Piti is a soup dish that requires at least 8 hours of cooking to get the best result. I encourage you to try this food in Azerbaijan, the flavour and texture are wonderful. It’s prepared with chunks of lamb, potatoes, garlic, onions, peas, chestnuts and fresh herbs.

Many recipes add dried plums to the broth to add a sour flavour to balance the dish. Chickpeas are added to the soup later on.

The ingredients are placed into a small clay pot (this gives a special flavour to this dish) and then covered with water. It’s then placed in an oven to be slow-cooked. 

piti food of azerbaijan
Piti – A much-loved soup dish of Azerbaijan. Credit: Azernews

Why not visit Nakhchivan while you’re here?

If you’re interested in experiencing a destination in Azerbaijan that is quite unique, we highly recommend visiting Nakhchivan, the fascinating exclave of Azerbaijan. 

Deep within the mountain regions of the southern Caucasus, Nakhchivan is a perfect example of an off beaten destination for the adventurous traveller.

Best Things to Do in Azerbaijan

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the most popular food in Azerbaijan. Don’t miss our comprehensive Caucasus Itinerary to discover the best of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. 

You may also be interested in our Ultimate Food Guide to Georgia. This region of the world has many culinary gems to discover.