Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 12-Azerbaijan! The last of the "A" countries. Up next, Bahamas, baby!

Ahhhh, the last of the "A" countries...Azerbaijan. How many people (besides our brilliant Verizon Repair Technician, who not only knew that Andorra was a country but knew where it was), know anything about Azerbaijan? Embarrassingly, I didn't, but now I know a little about it's ancient history, culture and amazing food. First the location and a VERY brief history:
About 5,000 years old, Azerbaijan was occupied by Iranian Sasanids and in the 7th century by Arabian Khalifat.  In the second half of the 18th century Azerbaijan broke up into smaller states - khanates and sultanates.By the end of the 18th century Iran was under the rule of Gadzhars, an Azerbaijani dynasty. Skipping way ahead, the modern history of Azerbaijan contains one more significant page - Armenia - Azerbaijan conflict over annexation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Republic . Having declared itself  an independent democratic state in 1991, Azerbaijan lost its 6 areas, including Nagorno-Karabah Autonomous Region. In 1994 the countries signed the cease-fire treaty and on August 30th, 1991 Azerbaijan became an independent state.

Traditional food in Azerbaijan includes bread, pancakes and thick soups. Pilaff (plov), both savoury and sweet, is a favourite in Azerbaijan. The savoury pilaff is prepared using rice with meat, or fish, and vegetables and spices; the sweet version often contains dried apricots and raisins (which are also used on occasions to flavour meat recipes). So that's what I made: Parcha-Dosheme Plov or, layered rice pilaf with dried fruits and chestnuts:

 The process for preparing the rice had many steps: rinse it, soak it, then steam it. It's cooked by layering chicken, onions, rice, fruit and more rice. Then the whole thing is steamed and saffron is added at the end.


 Chopping the onions



 
Cakes and sweets include baklava and halva. Fruits available are apples, cherries, grapes, melons, raspberries, plums and peaches. I decided to go for the baklava, but a simplified recipe:



Make the dough, roll it out, chop the walnuts, layer the dough with filling, bake - awesomeness
Not in the recipe, but it's Saturday night , right? 


The windowsill over my sink - not in the recipe either, but so what, I like the picture, it's my blog, so I put it.

Here's the link to the recipes: http://www.azcookbook.com/layered-rice-pilaff-with-dried-fruits-chestnuts-parcha-dosheme-plov/ 
and for the baklava: http://www.azcookbook.com/easy-baklava/

The final analysis:  Everyone loved the rice pilaf and my kids asked me to make the baklava every night....and the best part? They now know some of Azerbaijan's history AND where it is on our beautiful world map...sure beats World History 101.

3 comments:

beth berman said...

Inspired by the rice dish!

witchywoman said...

Love the picture of your sink...it looks like you may collect some Fenton glass? At least, that's what that hobnail vase looks like...I have a ton of it in storage!

sadie said...

Yes! Do collect hobnail glass - it's just another one of my obsessions :)