A civilization has two great indications and two important sources: a cooker and a kitchen. The identity of a nation is partly understood through a study made in their cuisine. Primitive communities did not have a kitchen at all. They just casually cooked all the food on some kind of heater in order to chew them properly. As civilizations developed, knowledge on kitchen also developed and a tradition for cooking food and new methods of cooking emerged. That is why it can be said that the way to civilization passes partly from the kitchen. The communities, which do not benefit from agricultural plants and usually nourish meat and game, are regarded underdeveloped even today. A community, which has developed equipment and material in its kitchen, can be regarded as a community, which has gone through certain phases of success. Southern Azerbaijan can be regarded as one of the oldest countries, which possesses the rich history of the east. The present Southern Azerbaijani civilization is deeply rooted in ancient times. The history of the Southern Azerbaijani cuisine is as old as the history of its people.

Southern Azerbaijani food is quite different. These foods, which display the phases of civilization, traditions and characteristics of various communities that lived in Southern Azerbaijan and the phase of civilization for plants and agriculture, are concrete documents showing the phases which the civilization in Southern Azerbaijan has undergone.

The people in Southern Azerbaijan have improved their habitat through their neighbors; have enriched the traditional way of living they brought from Central Asia and thus various kinds of food, fruit and drinks have arrived in the region and regionally developed.

In Southern Azerbaijan there are also different eating styles, which have passed on from ancient times, apart from the different ways of cooking the food. What we mean by this is not the way in which the food is eaten, either standing up or by lying or sitting down. What we really mean by this is eating the food together with a special ceremony and having a banquet. In the past, in this old nation, there was a tradition of eating food together with a crowd during the religious ceremonies. This crowded eating habit in the form of a banquet is observed in some other nations as well. This kind of collective eating habit was a widespread habit usually seen in weddings, when going to war, when a work has been carried out successfully, upon returning from a successful war, after funerals and on various religious gatherings. Today, this tradition is widely practiced in Southern Azerbaijan. Especially in weddings, when migrating, on long journeys, upon the arrival of a guest, on religious festivals, in ceremonies regarding the dead, upon returning from pilgrimage, on births and on various similar occasions this habit of eating in a collective manner was observed. What is important on such occasions is that food, reflecting the tradition of the region the most should be prepared. However, today, rice and kebab are more common.

These dishes vary according to the regions. The main reason for change is old traditions and customs. In some of the regions they would sacrifice animals in order to cook these dishes. Currently giving or cooking food to the needy in the name of God is a tradition, which is practiced in special months and days.

In Southern Azerbaijan they usually used to cook the food in cauldrons. There are various types of cauldrons. Most of the pots and pans were made out of copper. The sacks and water bottles used in kitchens were made out of leather.

Meals were eaten in the biggest room of the house in Southern Azerbaijan. Using the biggest spoon to distribute the meal was a symbol of the superiority of the women at home. This was only done by an elderly woman, or if she was not present, by her closest friend. The meals were generally eaten in groups. When eating group meals the ages of the people were taken into consideration. The meal was generally eaten at the table, which was prepared on a smooth surface. The cloth over the table is generally from fabric or nylon. If a guest arrived the young people left the table in order for the guests to sit. The elder men and women continued to eat together with the guests.

The nourishment culture of a community is closely linked to the lifestyle. Changes in the lifestyle can cause changes in the nourishment culture. That it why there are differences in the nomadic and settled ways of lives in terms of nourishment and this change affects the nourishment culture to a considerable degree. The food culture of a country or a community varies according to the life standards, climate, variety of people and geography and from region to region.

It is possible to come across many Southern Azerbaijani dish names in ancient inscriptions. Although the Azeri land has been subject to raids of various invaders and occupational forces for centuries, it has still been able to preserve and maintain its national sovereignty, its culture, social life, art and even its national dishes.

The delicious food of Southern Azerbaijan is known by many people over the world. As it can easily be understood from their names dolma (stuffed pepper), piti, bozbash (a meal made out of meat and chick peas), meatballs, various types of halvahs and meals are Turkish dishes, which are also considered as Southern Azerbaijani dishes. For example the word dolma (stuffed) has derived from the verb ?to stuff?. Dolma, which is considered as one of the national dishes of Southern Azerbaijan, is cooked in various different ways. Among the types of dolma are stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage leaves, apple, tomato, pepper, quince, onion, eggplant, evelik (a kind of vegetable) etc.

We should count the kebabs as one of the Southern Azeri food. This meal, which can be said to have been inherited from ancestors, is widely made out of meat from the back of the animal. Among the kebabs are berg kebab, soltani kebab, Juje (dwarf chick) kebab, liver kebab, tomato kebab, Bonab (a city in Southern Azerbaijan) kebab, tail kebab, kebab in pan and Kubide kebab.

Among the meals, which are peculiar to Southern Azerbaijan, are soups made out of vegetables and legumes. These dishes are generally drunk in winter before the main courses and are said to have a healing power. They are, therefore, a very good choice for sick people to eat and are rich in vitamins. Among the soups are yoghurt, ayran (a drink made out of yoghurt), noodle, sour soup, semolina soup, scarlet soup, boiled sheep?s head soup, fruit soup, tomato soup etc.

Another type of dish, which is widely preferred in Southern Azerbaijan and which is regarded as tradition is meatballs. The most famous meatballs are the Tabriz meatball and the Rize meatball. Fried onions, dried apricots, cooked eggs, walnuts and various other flavors are put inside the Tabriz meatballs, which are made out of meat, various vegetables, leppe (a kind of chickpea), rice, eggs, spices and flour.

The Southern Azerbaijani dishes can easily be distinguished from the dishes of other nations due to their peculiar spices. Among these spices are saffron, cumin, turmeric, thyme, red and black pepper, ginger, mint and dried roses.