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Cuisine and Wine of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani cuisine, throughout the centuries, has been influenced by the foods of different cultures due to political and economic processes in Azerbaijan. Still, today's Azerbaijani cuisine has distinctive and unique features. Many foods that are indigenous to the country can now be seen in the cuisines of other cultures. For the Azerbaijanis, food is an important part of the country's culture and is deeply rooted in the history, traditions and values of the nation.


Food of Azerbaijan  

Out of 11 climate zones known in the world, Azerbaijan has nine. This contributes to the fertility of the land, which in its turn results in the richness of the country’s cuisine. The Caspian Sea is home to many edible species of fish, including the sturgeon, Caspian salmon (a subspecies of trout, now critically endangered), Caspian white fish, sardines, grey mullet, and others. Black caviar from the Caspian Sea is one of Azerbaijan’s best known delicacies well sought after in other parts of the world, including former Soviet countries.

Azerbaijani cuisine has over 30 kinds of soups, including those prepared from plain yogurt. There is a wide variety of kebabs and shashliks, including lamb, beef, chicken, and fish (baliq) kebabs. Sturgeon, a common fish, is normally skewered and grilled as a shashlik, being served with a tart pomegranate sauce called narsharab. The traditional condiments are salt, black pepper, sumac, and especially saffron, which is grown domestically on the Absheron Peninsula. A national dish of Azerbaijani cuisine is saffron-rice plov served with various herbs and greens, a combination totally different from Uzbek plovs. Azerbaijan has more than 40 different plov recipes. Dried fruits and walnuts are used in many dishes.

Food of Azerbaijan  

Azerbaijani cuisine is famous for an abundance of vegetables and greens used seasonally in the dishes. Fresh herbs, including mint, cilantro (coriander, dill, basil, parsley, tarragon, leeks, chives, thyme, marjoram, green onion, and watercress, are very popular and often accompany main dishes on the table.

Black tea is the national beverage, and it is drunk at the beginning of each meal before food is eaten. It is also a hospitality beverage that always welcomes guests, often accompanied by fruit preserves.

In addition to oil economy, Azerbaijan has a healthy agricultural base. Among Azerbaijan's agricultural products mention can be made of cotton, tobacco, grapes, and tea. Azerbaijan's raw cotton, a leading agricultural product, rivaled the cotton production of other major cotton producing republics like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Tobacco formed the second most important crop in the republic. Grapes of many varieties are mostly used in wine making. In fact, Azerbaijan's wine production, expanded in recent years, has received a number of international awards. Finally, although introduced into the republic fairly recently, tea production promises a similar trend as wine, both with regard to production and marketing. In the former Soviet Union, Azerbaijan came second in tea production, Georgia being the first. Rice, fruits and vegetables are also produced in abundance, adding variety to Azerbaijan's economy.

Wine of Azerbaijan

Modern viticulture in Azerbaijan is concentrated in the Kirovabad-Kazakh and Shirvan regions, and vineyards account for nearly 7% of the country's cultivated land. There are 17 vine varieties officially recognized for wine production and 16 table grape varieties as well. The most common grape is Pinot Noir.

The Tovuz region where the wine and cognac plants are located has a rich history of wine-growing in Azerbaijan. Before the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the Tovuz region was known as the oldest land of quality wine-growing. Many archaeological findings prove that (vessels for wine storage, stones and remains of tartaric acid found in Gyandja and Tovuz) during early stages of social development, the wine-growing was apparent in the Gyandja-Tovuz region.

Cuisine, wine Azerbaijan  

In addition to the manuscripts of famous travelers, historians and geographers (Homer, Heradot, Strabon, Columell, Hovgell, Masoodi, Al-Muqadasi, etc.), the 10th century Arabian geographer Al-Muqaddasi, while describing the wealth of Azerbaijan, remarked that "the region is rich and beautiful; it has many fruits and wines. Such sweet wine is not found anywhere like in Nakhichevan."

Hence, there was a great deal of winemaking taking place in the Caucasus in the Gyandja-Tovuz region from 1820-1830. The world's most famous winemaking capitalists appeared in Azerbaijan. They include Christopher Froer and Christian Gummel, who were among these German settlers. The largest plant for producing cognac was built in Traubenfield (Tovuz), which supplied the entire Russian market.