Karabakh cuisine – Part one

Baku, March 30, AZERTAC

Karabakh cuisine is an integral part of traditional Azerbaijani national culinary culture. It has learned a lot from other regions, influencing them at the same time. The culinary traditions, terminology, folklore, dishes, utensils, cooking technology, festive rituals and ceremonial meals of Karabakh are all identical with the cuisines of other regions of Azerbaijan. At the same time, there are obvious local differences due to climatic, geographical and traditional conditions. Karabakh is far from the sea, so Karabakh cuisine does not use sea fish. Fish dishes are borrowed. Karabakh cuisine used only freshwater fish, mostly in boiled and fried forms. Karabakh people themselves consider fish dishes "self-indulgence" and not very serious food.

In some areas of Karabakh, near lakes and rivers, there are complex fish dishes, but there are very few of them. These include dishes from freshwater fish, "lavangi", "gurgut" and "fish buglama" (stewed fish). In contrast to other regions, lentil and rice are added to the Karabakh "lavangi" (stuffed fish). In addition to these products, the stuffing includes tomatoes, peppers, celery, green onions and sour cherry plum lavashana. In contrast to other regions, the Karabakh lavangi is steamed.

For the "gurgut", the fish is stuffed with minced akhta zogal (dried pitted Cornelian cherry), and fine-cut onions, lavashana, hot and sweet peppers are added. The stuffed fish is salted, a little water and butter is added, and then it is cooked on low heat for 30-40 minutes. The fish buglama (stewed) is cooked in different ways. The fish is stewed with different fruits and vegetables. These fish dishes in various forms are made throughout Azerbaijan.

The fact that fish from the Kura River, which flows near Barda, was brought to Karabakh, particularly to Barda, was recorded by the 10th century Arab travelers, al-Muqaddasi (10th century) and al-Istahri (10th century). They mentioned fishes like "kasbuvin", "tirrikh", "surmakhi", "zarogan" and "ishubat".

Sheep-herding has been developed in Karabakh for centuries. Local agriculture was diversified, settled and cultured. A great place was occupied by grain-growing, melon and gourd growing and gardening. Karabakh cuisine uses nearly all types of traditional Azerbaijani open and closed hearths: tandir (oven made of clay in a hole in the earth), chala (pit), ojag (bonfire), saj (iron disk for baking bread), chargrill, bukhari (fire-place) and kura (furnace), which, taking into account local features, make it possible to highlight certain nuances in local cuisine.

Islam had an enormous impact on Karabakh cuisine. In particular, it does not use pork, and pigs have never been bred and sold at local markets in Karabakh.

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