South Azerbaijanis are a people who like to eat and who have a very good palate. Its kitchen has always been colorful and rich. It used to appeal to people?s sense of taste and has also been appealing to the eye with different foods, good flavors, scents and garnishments.

Eating customs of South Azerbaijani people date back to a very distant past. In the region, kitchen and the part where foods are stored had been located in a separate division of the house. Also, there used to be furnaces next to kitchen in some houses and the households used to bake their breads in these furnaces to eat hotter, fresher, and healthier bread. Almost everything were being cooked at home.

Varieties of jams, sherbets, tomato/pepper pastes and desserts are some examples of those. Today, varieties of jams and sherbets are prepared in many of the houses. Because, people of South Azerbaijan like jams and desserts very much and they certainly eat them both at breakfast and after meals. Also, the first thing to be served to guests in summer months is sherbet. In winter, tea is served. Later desserts, fruits and dried fruits are served. Therefore, varieties of jams and sherbets are always available in cupboards of all houses. In South Azerbaijan, jam is prepared with all fruits one can imagine. Sour cherry, cherry, strawberry, apricot, apple, cucumber, rose leaf, water melon, lemon, orange peel, tangerine, peanut shell may be listed among jam sorts. The most common sherbet are rose and sour cherry sherbets.

In South Azerbaijan, dining table customs also date back to ancient times. In the past large round copper trays were prepared and used as dining tables. Of course, before the meals jugs made of steel or copper, washbowls and towels used to be brought for washing hands. After washing and drying hands, household, first elders and then younger persons, sit down around the copper tray. Today, copper trays are still used in many houses. Likewise, first elders and then younger persons start to eat as a rule of respect.

In breakfast, at least one of the sorts of bread ? lavash, sangak, baberi and fetir ? that are special to South Azerbaijan, tea, cheese, butter, honey, jam and egg are eaten. Meal is started with a sort of soup special to South Azerbaijan. Soups can be divided into two groups called ?Soup? and ?Meal?. Main ingredients of ?Soup? are barley, corn, wheat, home-made macaroni and mushroom. ?Meal? is a traditional dish and its main ingredients are kinds of vegetables and leguminous seeds. Some sorts additionally include fresh or dried fruits. ?Meal? is a very useful and health-giving dish. Therefore, it is sometimes eaten as a main course. When it is eaten as the main course, a kind of halva or a dessert called kaygana is sure to be eaten. In South Azerbaijan?s kitchen the two wonders of foods, rice and saffron, are certainly used. A great part of South Azerbaijan?s kitchen is a combination of these two staples with various foods. But the rice that is used here is a longer and fragrant type.

In South Azerbaijan, dishes of meat and vegetable are consumed in a quite balanced way. However, people of South Azerbaijan like to eat meat and particularly kebab. Red meat is more commonly used, but chicken meat is also consumed. Of course, you cannot expect people who love kebabs so much to avoid using spices. In this regard, South Azerbaijan kitchen resembles to Turkish kitchen very much and it bears so much resemblance not only in this regard but in general. Breakfast dish and tea can be given as the examples of these resemblances. In South Azerbaijan, kebab or Chelo kebab is eaten either at home or at a restaurant particularly on Fridays.. A piece of solid margarine or butter is put on stewed rice. Melting this margarine or butter in rice is the task of person who eats it. Together with this plate, a slice of tomato, cucumber or a little yoghurt is also offered as side dish. Kebab made of chicken meat is called Jujeh (Dwarf) Kebab. Then there is Chelo Khoresh. This dish is made of meat from cattle and tomato sauce and is also served with stewed rice. There are many varieties of this dish prepared by cooking different vegetables and leguminous seeds beside meat.

In South Azerbaijan, local names of meatball and stuffed vegetable dishes are ?kofte? and ?dolma? which is the same in Turkish kitchen. Tabriz kofte, rice kofte, chickpeas kofte can be listed among meatball dishes, and eggplant, marrow squash, grape leaf, quince, onion, green pepper, tomato and cabbage can be given as examples to stuffed vegetables. South Azerbaijan has two other traditional dishes called Abgusht and Kuku. Both have distinct varieties. The most well-known kind of Abgusht is Bozbash, but it has other varieties. For example, there are quince abgusht, lapeh abgusht and eggplant abgusht. There are types of kuku made of eggplant, vegetable, potato, marrow squash, chicken, fresh beans and spinach. Although the habit of eating fish in South Azerbaijan?s kitchen is not common, fishes caught up from Araz river and other small rivers and from fisheries today are eaten with vegetable pilaf particularly on March 21st (Newruz festival).

As we mentioned above, people of South Azerbaijan finish their meal with jam, halva or another dessert. They have traditional halvas and desserts: Flour halva, Ter halva, Ginger halva, Yellow sweet marjoram, Farni, Kuymak, Zulbiya, and Bamyeh can be cited. Tea and ayran (made of yoghurt diluted with water) are the most consumed beverages in South Azerbaijan. Between meals, they definitely drink tea and eat fruits. In South Azerbaijan where all kinds of dried fruits and nuts are available, pastry-cooks prepare wonderful products by using fresh and quality pistachio nut and almond varieties. For example, the taste of bitter almond cookie and nut wafer of Tabriz is delicious.

Occasionally we will present some recipes from this rich kitchen for your appreciation. The first recipe we will share with you is South Azerbaijan?s most well-known and appetizing Dovga Soup, that is yoghurt soup.

(Our South Azerbaijan)