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Have you ever been to Azerbaijan? Most people will probably say No.. And if so, may I suggest this as your next destination … But this isn’t going to be another of the thousands of travel guides available online. This is rather a little tribute to my place of birth, with focus on its delicious food and wines and a little bit of virtual sightseeing. 🙂 Continue reading Azerbaijan – the Land of Fire, Food, Wine & UNESCO World Heritage
The only way I can ever make this dish myself is when I have access to ready made lavash, a very thin flatbread from Azerbaijan (think 1/3 thickness of a Mexican tortilla). Luckily, my family brought me a few dozens recently and I needed to act quickly as lavash perishes fast.
Frankly speaking, using lavash to make kutab (or qutab) is a plain cheating. The traditional way involves preparing dough, rolling it out to 1 mm thin sheets and cutting round shapes. And only then you fill it with either meat, herbs or squash.
But back to my cheating/amateur method. All I needed to do is prepare the filling, which consisted of organic lamb mince, finely chopped onions and seasoning of salt and pepper. I added a tsp of dried oregano for a personal twist. 😉
Then you (traditionally) fry your kutab on a convex iron griddle stalled saj. My kutabs had to settle for a ceramic frying pan. I first tried to fry them without any fat like my mom normally does, but it didn’t go well with the first batch, so I lightly brushed the remaining kutabs with sunflower oil before putting them in the pan. I will spare you the details of how my two(!) ceramic pans looked afterwards, but all I say is that it was absolutely worth the trouble and the overall kitchen damage!
Meat kutabs are traditionally served with sumac, a dark red lemony flavoured spice made from crushed sumac berries. (I like mines with ketchup) If you are curious about the real thing, this link will give you a bit more insight: traditional kutab
Last but not least, the wine. I had an open bottle of 2012 Vigne Surrau Isola dei Nuraghi IGT from Sardinia (Cannonau, Carignano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muristellu blend) in the fridge. You would be surprised how well it paired with kutab! I believe this is mostly due to the high acidity level of the wine playing well with the sumac spice and its overall Mediterranean character matching the dish.
Tasting note: medium ruby, med. flavor intensity, high acidity levels, soft tannins, med+ body; red berries, sweet spice, hint of leather, very food friendly wine. Would keep for another year or two but ready to enjoy now, not designed for long-term ageing.