SENSATIONAL SOUPS FROM AZERBAIJAN
By Faye Levy and Yakir Levy, JERUSALEM POST (print edition)
We learned to prepare dushbere, Azerbaijan's most popular soup, made of lamb dumplings in a light broth, in a cooking class taught in Los Angeles by Feride Buyuran.
Buyuran, the author of Pomegranates and Saffron A Culinary Journey to Azerbaijan, emphasized that the tortellini-like dumplings should be tiny, and that making perfect ones requires practice. Yet even though none of us in the class had ever made dushbere before, the soup was superb.
In Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, we discussed how to prepare dushbere over lunch with Leyla Rahmanova, the author of Cuisine d'Azerbaidjan. She mentioned that you can make the filling for the dumplings from beef or veal in addition to lamb.
The Azerbaijani meatball soup called kyufte bozbash is ideal for a chilly day. In addition to large meatballs--made from lamb, beef or both, the soup has chickpeas & potatoes. Each meatball has a surprise: one or two dried sour cherries or a dried tart plum. Chef Tahir Amiraslanov, author of Azerbaijan Culinary, told us that the soup can be seasoned with either saffron or turmeric.
On the recommendation of Israeli tourists we met in Baku, we ate at Nakhchivan restaurant, which specializes in foods from Nakhchivan in southwest Azerbaijan. There we saw the chef poaching eggs in a red-hued soup. It turned out to be a tasty red bean & meat soup flavored with tomato and mint, finished with fresh coriander and dill, & served with just-baked tandir flatbread.
Azerbaijani cooks'use of tart fruits & generous amounts of fresh herbs gave the soups a distinctive flavor. * * * Faye Levy is the author of Feast from the Mideast.
Photos Yakir Levy
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