Mealtime Customs

Find out about traditional dinner ceremonies and eating out in Azerbaijan...

Traditional dinner ceremonies begin with tea, which is usually served black and as soon as the guests arrive. Tea is considered a sign of hospitality and this part of the ritual is thought to help conversation flow. Spices, such as cardamom, ginger and cinnamon are added to the tea to enhance its aroma. A variety of fruits and nuts, for example walnuts, strawberries, quinces, apricots and cherries are served with the tea.

Tea is followed by the main courses; soups are not traditionally served at celebrations, weddings and banquets. However, it is not uncommon for dovga, a cold sour milk soup, to be served with the meal as it is aids digestion. The main course, which is generally meat- or pilaff-based, is always served with a wide range of vegetables and greens.

As is customary for dinners in the country the meal will end with sherbets or sweets.

Eating Out

All of Azerbaijan's main cities and towns offer a wide range of restaurants to choose from. As well as restaurants selling local dishes, larger cities and tourist areas offer a range of international cuisines. Baku in particular offers a wide range of western-style restaurants, with everything from fine dining to fast food.