I am Here + Photo Essay

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 Turkiye 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 Turkiye so I had a chance to take tons of pictures of the cities, of the food and the people. 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, 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 made in large fluted baking pans then cut up and packed inside small boxes to sell to customers. Read more about this unusual sweet 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.

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.

A photo essay about Azerbaijan without pomegranates? Not in my blog. A closeup of the fruit of fruits (in my humble opinion) in my aunt’s garden in the Zagatala region in the northwest.

Your Comment

50 Comments
  1. Beautiful pics…

    really enjoyed browsing through your culinary/cultural journey of Azerbaijan.

    May be time now for doing another article on you:)

    Best

    Deepa

  2. Thank you Thank you Farida, for this amazing tour. If destiny permits I have a dream to visit your country one day. The similarity with the food and the language with India is so intriguing. We have our samovars and firnis and tandoors :-) I have never seen a fresh hazelnuts before.

  3. Thank you so much for the tour. Looks beautiful. I’m not surprised you didn’t have time for the blog! :)
    Like Soma says, there’s a lot there that’s like India. Would love to visit, some day.
    Did you buy any samovars? :)

  4. Feride thanks a million for beatiful images!
    I want to go to Azerbeycan more than ever
    Now!

  5. next trip I’m coming with you, no kidding

  6. Thank you so much for sharing these photos! What a beautiful place…dreamy! And I’m in love with the samovar and the cup holder.

  7. Welcome back, Farida
    Thank you for pics, I could not travel back home this summer because of my newborn baby, so I am extremely home/Baku/Azerbaijan-sick :(
    By the way, it is upper part of Maiden Tower, that dates back to 12 centure, the lower part (and if you look at the tower you will see the obvious difference between these two parts) – is believed was built in 6 centure BC, and was serving as Zoraastrian temple..
    I love Maden Tower, climbed it probably 25 times :)

  8. Feride, thanks for expressing a piece of our traditions, life style, beauties of nature, cuisine in your photos.especially like your style of titling, they r always with sense of humour and r so expressive..

  9. Always great to come and see your page ! Pleasure for eyes and gustative sense ! Thx for sharing ! Hugs!

  10. Welcome back!!!

    Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures with us. What a splendid part of the world.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  11. look absolutely amazing!

  12. Feride, welcome back and as always you surprised us with beautiful “delicious” post. It has been a while I haven’t picked fruit from tree, seeing pictures of hazelnut, pomegranate, fresh berries in bazars…spices…simply awesome. So happy for you, you got to visit family and friends, took a tour of almost whole Azerbaijan, and I am absolutely learned a lot, we are anxiously looking forward to great posts with yummmmyyyy recipes.
    Love your blog!
    Feel proud, good luck with everything!

  13. Oh, what a fantastic posting, Farida! Thank you for these photos! x

  14. I LOVE the market photos!!! My dad has been to Azerbaijan, but not me, unfortunately..

  15. Thank you for this wonderful virtual tour of Azerbaijan and Baku, it really transported me to your wonderful country. I would love to taste the sheki pitisi.

  16. Fruit of fruits! Tottaly agree with you!
    Azeri pomegranates are the tastiest, juiciest, fruitiest in the world.

  17. beautiful! :)

  18. What beautiful pictures! It looks really interesting and nice over there,and that building of the oil baron is simply breath taking!

  19. My dearest Farida, you had already opened up my world with your cuisine and now with this pictorial tour, you have taken me further. I thank you sincerely. I want to learn more, I want to see more. I pray that one day I can travel to your homeland. It sounds amazing, so full of history!

    I have some questions I want to ask about the tea etc. but I will send those in an email.

    Welcome back! You have been thoroughly missed!

  20. Lovely! Welcome back! I love the samavar pictures. Reminds me why I have my aunt’s kerosene one proudly displayed in my house!

  21. Farida, I came to Baku a little over a year now and found your blog while trying to find out more about the food of Azerbaijan and found some wonderful recipes here, and even though I am still in Azerbaijan your photo essay about Azerbaijan was still amazing! Thank you…

  22. Welcome back!! Thank you for this beautiful tour!!
    Cherine

  23. So that’s where you’ve been all this time. I wish I could’ve tagged along, somehow.

    I’m glad you had a good visit. What a wonderful place, people and food.
    I finally know what a fresh hazelnut looks like, just before being picked. Thanks for the wonderful tour dear Fari. And, alas, I walk away craving sheki halvasi.

  24. This reminds me of Kazakhstan. Thanks for sharing and I am glad you had an awesome time. Welcome back.

  25. Welcome back, Farida.I am glad you had an awesome time
    Thank you for pics.
    (Shekiya getmak istadim,darixdim Sheki uchun)

  26. Hi! My daughter and I recently returned from our fascinating trip to Azerbaijan. Now my daughter is a vegetarian, so it wasn’t always easy to order suitable food for her (particularly in small ethnic restaurants outside the capital). One traditional dish she really enjoyed was “qutab” – obviously, the kind made with herbs. I was wondering if you could post a recipe for “qutabs” on your blog. The information I found on the internet is too brief and vague.
    Thanks in advance!

  27. veri nice pictures …congratulations from romania !

  28. Feride, güzel foto?raflar?nla ho?geldin. Önümüzdeki sene k?smetse tatil planlar?m?zda Bakü’de olacak, foto?raflar çok ho?uma gitti.
    Görü?mek üzere, sevgilerimle…

  29. love all of them :) Very very suppa Ferish

  30. Oh my, how good to have you back!
    Thanks for the pictures, what a beautiful place!
    I stopped by to see if you had returned, and now I have to set aside a goodly amount of time to take the WHOLE tour!
    Welcome home!

  31. thanks of your really amazing photos. i’m from iran’s azeri. i like the headwears (papax). i should visit baku in future.

  32. Friends, thank you so much for all your wonderful comments! Aparna, I wanted to buy a samovar so badly but didn’t as there was no room in my suitcases. Next time I will definitely buy one:)

  33. Such beautiful photos – it is wonderful to have you back! Missed you and your blog posts – but I can see it was for a good cause!

  34. Feride, it looks like a fantastic vacation. thank you for sharing these beautiful photos with us. I’ve been always curious about your country as I love Azerbaijan people, who are very friendly.
    And I’m surprised to see uzerlik in Azerbaijan. People here also believes that it protects you from evil eyes.
    I love the tea glass that uncle is holding. No need to mention the semavers.
    Looking forward to read your new recipes in your next posts.

  35. Looks like a beautiful country rich in culture and history Farida! I wish I were there now! Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

  36. loved the photos and the tour

  37. Thanks Farida jan for sharing your memories.

  38. What gorgeous photos! My number of family members have lived in Baku and I have always heard fairy tales about it. Nice to see the pictures Farida!

  39. wonderful pictures, Farida! Glad to see you are back !!

  40. Thanks for the photo essay, you have taken some beautiful pics and given us an armchair tour of your fascinating country.

  41. So glad you are back. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting your beautiful homeland through your pictorial. The only thing missing, perhaps, is a map showing where AZ (I don’t dare try to spell it!) is.

  42. Your blog and recipes really helped my culinary inspiration on my recent trip to visit a friend in Azerbaijan. The bazar in Baku was my favorite place of all, and thankfully, I was there in time for fig season!

  43. I second Riyad’s call for a decent qutab recipe. When it’s done right, there’s nothing better. Anyone?

  44. J and Riyad: The gutab recipe including lots of variations is going to be in my cookbook (almost ready, yay!, so please stay tuned.

  45. My father is from Baku, I was there twice. Sadly to young to remember anything. These pictures are beautiful, hopefully I will get the chance to go there again this time with my family.

  46. I spent a total of 18 weeks in Baku in the early 1990′s, met some good people living and working under the difficult economic circumstances at that time. Your photo’s made me miss Baku even more than I thought. A wonderful place with a wonderful past. It was like seeing photograhs of a long lost gir friend and at last I have found a recipie for that wonderful bread that will bring cheer this afternoon on a cold and very wet English autumn day or should I say very wet English week! Thankyou

  47. Farida, I don’t know how I just saw these – wonderful pics! I have a couple samovars at home too, use one on the stove ;) I never saw fresh Ozerlick before, just dried, ready to heat! hugs, F

  48. Hi Farida,

    Very beautiful pictures.

    I think its “kizil” an not cherries on the photo. (Red long looking cherry things)- Its under the photo with commentary “A happy seller of cherries and berries at Baku’s Teze Bazar (farmer’s market).”

    I used to love eating them.. they are sweet if ripe. I was born in Baku and came to US a while back.

    Take care,
    Diana

  49. Thank you for sharing your wonderful country with us in Idaho! The AZ people. culture, food and beauty is breathtaking!

    I am going to try some of your delicious recipes and will share the news of AZ Cookbook with friends and family!