For the Love of Plov: Azerbaijan


When the summer sun roasts everything from the birds, to the bees, Azerbaijani enjoy Sharbat drink, a traditional, fruity nectar whose name evokes the refreshing dessert, Sherbet. This drink is chilled, not frozen, however. Popular flavors include pomegranate, cherry, mint, and lemon. The drink can also be flavored with saffron, honey, and basil seeds. Canned soda is gaining popularity, however, threatening to push this homemade drink to the back of dusty shelves.


Ovshala, or rose petal drink, is popular throughout the Caucus. Rose petals are literally plucked from fresh roses, boiled with lemon juice, and sweetened with sugar. Make this drink with your family and friends as a fun summer project, instead of traditional lemonade! Just be sure to use flowers from your garden, not the chemical-sprayed roses from florists and grocery stores.


Azerbaijani enjoy more than 40 kinds of Plov, or rice pilaf. Plov is served at special gatherings, including weddings, and is considered the true test of a cook’s skill. Many include crusts, such as the potato crust, pictured above [Recipe].

Plov/Pilaf is such a popular dish, that it is a vehicle for many old sayings:

Better to eat cheese and bread than pilaf that is given as a favor.  (favors aren’t as good a deal as they might seem)

Whatever you put on your pilaf will appear on your spoon. (you reap what you sow)

When you’re young, carry stones. When you’re old, eat pilaf. (work hard so you can retire in comfort)

Here are some other neat sayings:

Don’t put garlic on your head if it doesn’t hurt.  (do not fix what isn’t broken)

He who pities his lamb can’t eat kabab. (sometimes you have to make tough choices)

When a tree bears much fruit, it bends low.  (humility is appropriate when successful)

Your mouth won’t get sweet just by saying “halva-halva” (halva is a sweet – so the message is you can’t just beg, you have to work for what you want)

(source, with dozens more sayings: Azeri Magazine)



  1. Collette Lemons says

    The rose petal drink sounds interesting and I plan to give it a go!

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