Hello, friends. I am back. It’s been long since we last chatted, hasn’t it? I hope you all had a wonderful summer!
As to me, I had a great and busy one with my family and friends in Turkey and Azerbaijan. So much so that I rarely surfed the Internet and did anything online, including blogging, which is quite shameful, assuming that most of you came back to check on me from time to time. I know you will forgive me though, as I am back with lots of new recipes and stories to share with you.
I stayed longer in Azerbaijan than I did in Turkey, so I had a chance to take tons of pictures of the cities, of the food, and the people of the region. In Azerbaijan, we traveled across the country stopping in several big regions until we reached out final destination, the region of Balaken, in the very northwest, bordering the Republic of Georgia.
Instead of posting a recipe today, I am inviting you to take a virtual tour of Azerbaijan, albeit a short one, with the help of some of the pictures I took during the trip. Hope you enjoy! And thank you for bearing with me all this time. You are the best!
This is the capital Baku’s landmark – Maiden Tower, believed to have been built in the 12th century or, even earlier. A magnificent view of Baku city opens up in front of you once you are on the very top of the tower. Why the name Maiden Tower? Click HERE to find out.
My endless affection for samovars, mighty vessels used for boiling water to make Azerbaijani tea, has reached its peak when I spotted these beauties lined up in Sheki’s Lake Markhal Restaurant on the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. This picture ensued as a result.
Speaking of Azerbaijani tea, here’s a seller enjoying his glass of tea during a lunch break at Baku’s Teze Bazar (farmer’s market). Note the shape of the tea glass—it is pear shaped, hence its Azerbaijani name, armudu istekan, or pear-shaped glass. It can be either placed on a small saucer or be fit inside a beautiful glass holder, like the one you see in this picture.
This, my friends, is something that will protect you from evil eyes and this very powerful herb with seeds, called uzerlik, can be found in every corner of every market around the country. Azerbaijanis believe in its super powers. I know you are curious as to how it works. Read about it HERE.
Uncle Haji Mehemmed is removing corn kernels from dried cobs onto a tabag, a traditional multipurpose wooden tray that, sadly, is surviving only in the countryside. Picture taken in Kortala Village of the Balaken region in the northwest.
Traditional men’s headwear and copperware for sale in Baku’s Old City.
This nene (granny) at Baku’s Teze Bazar (farmer’s market) was such a sweetheart. She happily answered my endless questions about spices and herbs and cheerfully agreed to pose for the camera.
A view of Baku City. The old in the front goes hand in hand with the new in the back.
This is how hazelnuts look before they are picked from a tree – the nuts are hidden inside the green leafy wrappers. Picture taken at my uncle’s hazelnut garden in the Balaken region.
Loaded with walnuts and soaked in aromatic syrup, this sweet delight could be the ultimate dream of anyone who has a sweet tooth. Sheki halvasi, also known as Sheki pakhlavasi (Baklava Sheki way), is a famous specialty from the region of Sheki. Sheki halvasi is baked in large fluted baking pans then cut up and packed inside small boxes to sell to customers. Read more about this unusual dessert at my friend Ayten’ blog.
A happy seller of cherries and berries at Baku’s Teze Bazar (farmer’s market).
Our family friend, aunt Adila, in Sheki City, holding a tray with firni, a traditional rice pudding, famous in the region.
Carpets for sale on the streets of Baku’s Icheri Sheher (Old City).
Tandir (tandoori) bread – warm and delicious! Teze Bazar (farmer’s market), Baku.
A glimpse of one of the most beautiful buildings in Baku – once the residence of a wealthy oil baron Isa Bey Hajinski. The building is very close to Baku’s Maiden Tower. You can also see the Caspian Sea in the picture.
Jumbo samovar in Caravanserai Tea House in Icheri Sheher (Old City, Baku).
Caravanserai Restaurant in Baku’s Icheri Sheher (Old City).
This is another caravanserai, this time in Sheki City where once the historical Silk Road passed. In caravanserai, merchants and traders from other countries stopped for rest as well as traded their goods.
A glimpse of the beautiful nature of the Gabala region.
Copperware and, of course, a samovar, for sale in Baku’s Icheri Sheher (Old City).
Lake Markhal in the Sheki region. There is a nice restaurant by the lake where they serve some of the best regional dishes, including Sheki pitisi, lamb stew with chickpeas slowly cooked in individual clay pots, Sheki-style.
A facade of the Nizami Museum of Azerbajjani Literature in downtown Baku features magnificent monuments of some of the prominent figures of Azerbaijani literature.
Cobbled roads and mighty walls of Baku’s Icheri Sheher (Old City).
The Okhakh river in the Balaken region.