Monday Meal Review: Azerbaijan

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This is meal #11 in my personal challenge to eat one meal from every country in the world. "Hey, wait a minute!" Brian said. Startled, I looked from him, to his fiancée, to my husband. We were standing in the kitchen. I was pouring drinks and telling them about the Azerbaijani food we were about to eat. "What?" I asked. Brian didn't answer immediately; he was scanning my kitchen. I followed his gaze nervously, wondering if I'd missed a spill. The counters were clear. The … [Read more...]

Recipe: Spicy Meatballs with Pomegranate sauce (Fesinjan Kyufta)

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Makes 12 large meatballs In this case, spicy means seasoned, not hot. Serve with rice pilaf ... or stick on toothpicks for a finger food at a party (just put the sauce in a little bowl in the center). Ingredients: For the meatballs: 3/4 lb ground beef, 85% lean 3/4 lb ground lamb 1 large onion, grated 1 egg 2 Tbsp ice water 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs 1/2 tsp ground allspice 1/2 tsp hot Hungarian Paprika (for mild, increase for hot) 1 tsp dried mint 1 - 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp … [Read more...]

Recipe: Azerbaijani Grilled, Ground Lamb (Lyulya Kabob)

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Serves 6-8 These spicy kabobs are wonderful for lunch or a light dinner. The cayenne provides medium heat, add up to a 1/2 tsp more to make them spicy. Ingredients: 1 3/4 lbs ground lamb 2 medium onions, grated 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp dried mint 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper 1 tsp paprika Optional Accompaniments: Lavash flatbread Pita Bread Sliced red onion sliced tomatoes fresh sprigs of … [Read more...]

Recipe: Azeri Saffron Pilaf with potato kazmag

Azeri Rice Pilaf with Kazmag

Serves 6 I almost didn't make this pilaf because there were so many steps. I went out on a limb because I figured Azeri's must know how to cook basmati rice better than me. I was right. This is a great rice dish, buttery and delicately perfumed with saffron. Ingredients: 2 Potatoes 2 cups basmati rice 2 tsp salt 1/4 cup water 2 sticks butter 1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in a Tbsp of hot water. optional garnish: fresh mint leaves Method: For the potato crust: 1. … [Read more...]

While I’m Cooking: About Azerbaijan

Here's a 25 minute video all about Azerbaijan with great production quality. http://www.vimeo.com/10422538 I read the most fascinating fact in this article by Laura Kelley about Azeri food and culture: Like Georgia, Azerbaijan has a wide variety of climatic zones as well. In fact, nine of eleven climatic zones are represented, and in Azerbaijan one can simultaneously see all four seasons just by traveling from one end of the country to the other. High mountains, fertile foothills growing tea … [Read more...]

Fun Fact Friday: Azerbaijan

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Sharbat: 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. Ovhsala: Ovshala, … [Read more...]

How to make great meatballs, from any country

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Glorious meatballs, bathing in hearty, simmering sauce, can be found all over the world. Some meatballs are a meal unto themselves, requiring a knife and fork, while others are delicate, dainty droplets - more garnish than substance. Although most people enjoy a good meatball, entirely too much effort goes into making them. Intended to be comfort food, even homemade street-food, meatballs should not be an all day affair. Here are my simple tips for how to make great meatballs, from any … [Read more...]

Menu: Azerbaijan

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The Azerbaijani table is commonly adorned with flatbread, yogurt, sumac, and fresh herbs. This is because diners scoop meat dishes up into either lavash or pita bread and then top them with these regional "condiments."  Although a month late, we're celebrating the spirit of the Azerbaijani holiday "Novruz" by gardening and spring cleaning before our feast. Sides & Condiments: Pita Bread, fresh mint and other herbs, sliced red onion, sumac, and yogurt Rice Pilaf with Potato Kazmag … [Read more...]