The Bread & Soup Project #12 – Azerbaijan

2016.May.13 Friday

in Food & Recipes, The Bread & Soup Project

I know, I know, this project is moving forward achingly slowly. But, so what? It’ll continue, as I find time to do the research and have fun with filled breads and soups, bit by bit, until it’s either complete or I decide to stop. And hey, here we are at the end of the “A”s, with Azerbaijan, which seven of you didn’t even know was a country, and another twelve haven’t a clue where it is (south of Russian, north of Iran, east of Armenia, and west of the Caspian Sea). Being a relatively small country of just over 9 million people, and a relatively homogeneous population, it was pretty easy to narrow down the choices for our filled bread – Qutab and soup – Piti.

Qutab is, generally, a whole wheat folded over flatbread, most often filled with either meat, greens, or pumpkin. I opted for the last.

The dough is a very soft, stretchy one, and quick and easy to make – it’s really just whole wheat flour (250gm) with an egg, a dash of vegetable oil, and enough water to bring it together.

The principle components of the filling – pumpkin (kabocha squash) simmered in a little water until soft, and fried, chopped onions in butter…

…the pumpkin mashed, mixed with the onions, seasoned with salt and cinnamon, and finished with fresh pomegranate seeds. Set aside to cool.

Rolled out the dough into rounds about 8″ across, split the filling between them (I ended up with four), folded them over and lightly pressed the edges together.

Dry fried over low to medium heat until golden brown on both sides. The brushed with melted, clarified butter

And, served up on a platter – I cut them in half to look prettier – sprinkled with sumac and more pomegranate seeds. I think maybe some green onions would look nice too, if I’d have had any in the house I’d have added them.

I’ll say that Qutab wasn’t our favorite of the various filled breads we’ve tried so far. It wasn’t bad, but just didn’t wow us – might be interesting to try the meat or greens version.

On to the Piti, a lamb soup. Numerous versions out there, and some choices to make. Basically, lamb and onions are a must, chickpeas, optional tomatoes, then a choice between fresh chestnuts or potatoes – since we don’t have chestnuts here except jarred in syrup, that was easy, and then any of several fruits, or a combination – I went with quince and some dried plums (not in the picture), and spiced with salt, pepper, and saffron.

The lamb and lamb fat get chopped into bite sized pieces, and go into the pot with onions and soaked chickpeas (overnight, or canned, your choice). Filled with water to a couple of inches over the ingredients, brought to a boil, and simmered for about two hours, skimming it every now and again.

Then, the remaining ingredients added, another hour of simmering, adjust the seasoning, and there you have it.

We liked this a lot, though of course, with our general bent, we both ended up adding some chopped chilies to it after trying it solo.

Next up, we start the “B”s, with the Bahamas!


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