A bit of a belated post, but wanted to share about an exciting event that took place earlier this month. On June 5, I co-hosted the very first Azerbaijani cooking class in Los Angeles with my friend Mike Benayoun of 196 flavors. The class was taught in Santa Monica’s very cool place – Stage+Table.
Mike created the event in honor of the celebration of Republic Day of Azerbaijan on May 28th. It was part of a monthly series of interactive and social cooking workshops hosted by 196 flavors that features a different cuisine or theme every month. He invited me to co-host and I didn’t hesitate to agree.
I personally had an amazing time. We had the most friendly and fun students, open to learning about new, unfamiliar (to most of them) flavors. During the meet and greet, Mike treated everybody to a refreshing Azerbaijani lemon drink sharbat he had made beforehand. Then we proceeded to the fun part – hands-on cooking!
We started with vegetarian dolma—grape leaves stuffed with rice, onions, and copious amounts of fresh herbs. The class did a fantastic job despite the fact that dolma- making was totally new to most of them. Look at the result! So proud of what everybody did!
After the dolma went off to cook, we got down to making one of my personal favorites – layered rice pilaf with chicken, dried apricots, raisins, and chestnuts. It turned out super delicious.
And lastly, we made easy baklava – the highlight of the day, because who doesn’t like baklava? The class rolled out the dough, filled the baklava layered with a scrumptious walnut filling, glazed the top with an egg yolk, decorated with walnuts and sent it off to bake. Meanwhile, I made Azerbaijani tea to have it ready for our feast. Once everything had been cooked and baked, we all sat down to enjoy the meal with a glass of piping hot black tea.
I cannot thank Mike enough for the opportunity. Friends, if you are interested in expanding your cooking repertoire with dishes from other parts of the world, follow 196 flavors for delicious recipes and updates about upcoming classes.
And now the NEWS. I am thrilled to announce that inspired by our class with Mike, I’ve just launched my own exclusive in-home cooking classes to take place in Long Beach, CA. If you would like to learn how to cook Azerbaijani and Turkish dishes, click on the link for the July schedule and Frequently Asked Questions.
Note that for now I am keeping it low profile and not announcing on a large scale; for now it is for those who know me personally or through this blog, or friends’ friends and neighbors. You get the idea. The classes are going to be enlightening yet fun. My favorite combination of all. I hope you join and bring your friends and your appetite, too! Let’s cook together!