Azerbaijan celebrates spring arrival

20 March 2021 10:17 (UTC+04:00)

By Laman Ismayilova

Novruz is among most important and favorite holidays of the Azerbaijani people. The holiday marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated on the vernal equinox, March 20-21 – the beginning of the astronomical New Year.

Azerbaijani people celebrate four pre-holiday Tuesdays before spring festival. Each Tuesday is dedicated to the awakening of one of the nature’s elements: Su Chershenbesi (Water Tuesday), Od Chershenbesi (Fire Tuesday) Hava Chershenbesi (Wind Tuesday) and Torpaq Chershenbesi (Earth or Last Tuesday).

Novruz holiday is full of ceremonies and traditions. 

On Novruz, each family light the number of torches on their house's roof corresponding to the number of the family members. Everyone in the family should jump over the burning fire saying a special spell. Then young people should pour ash somewhere in the outskirts of the village or a road.

All families gather at home and enjoy delicious traditional pastries like shekerbura, pakhlava and shor gogal.

Each of the sweets baked for Novruz has a symbolic meaning. Pakhlava represents the four parts of the world, gogal symbolizes the sun, shakarbura – the moon, while the eggs painted for Novruz are a symbol of life.

Shekerbura

Nothing quite satisfies the sweet tooth like the taste of shekerbura.

The name "Shekerbura" comes from the Turkic word "Burulmush sheker" which is translated as "twisted sugar". 

The slightly crescent shape symbolizes the moon.

This sweet pastry is filled with ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts, and sugar.

The dough is made of wheat flour, butter, milk, egg yolks, cream and yeast.

The pattern on the dough is produced using traditional tweezers called maggash.

Pakhlava

Pakhlava is another festive dessert made for spring holiday.

The pastry is made of paper-thin layers, chopped nuts and honey.

The dough is cut into regular pieces, often in the forms of triangles, diamonds or rectangles.

Each country's region has its own special recipe for pakhlava.

Baku pakhlava can be made of peeled almonds or walnuts. It consists of 8-10 layers.

Ganja pakhlava is characterized by its stuffing prepared of almond, sugar and cinnamon, baking on a copper tray over a campfire and consisting of 18 layers of pastry.

Rishta pakhlava differs from the other types with its top layer which is covered with rishta.

This pastry is made from wheat starch or rice flour.

Guba pakhlava is distinguished by its color. The covering layer of Guba pakhlava is coated with a mixture of saffron and a red color additive. Guba pakhlava consists of approximately 50 rishta layers.

Sheki pakhlava is made from rishta, stuffing (hazelnut, cardamom and coriander seeds) and syrop.

These pakhlava recipes are everything you're searching for.

Now it's time to brighten up your dinner table with another mouthwatering pastry.

Shor Gogal 

Shor Gogal is another delicious pastry in Azerbaijan, which is prepared for the spring holiday. This round bakery symbolizes the sun.

Shor Gogal is made from layers of pastry flavored with turmeric and fennel seeds.

Although it is a holiday food, nowadays shor gogal is enjoyed all year round as well.

Badambura  

Badambura is an unbelievably delicious treat you need to make this spring.

This multilayered pastry is filled with almonds meal, sugar, and ground cardamom.

The name "Badambura" means "almond pie".

Mutaki or mutakka

Mutaki are traditional Azerbaijani pastry scrolls, especially popular at Novruz holiday.

The pastry takes its name from a traditional Azerbaijani bolster called “mütəkkə”.

These walnut-filled cookies will melt in your mouth and are utterly delicious.

With these irresistible pastry recipes, you can easily satisfy any sweet tooth.

Holiday sweets, candles and samani (wheat seeds) are put on a tray and sent to neighbors and friends.

Sprouting samani symbolizes rich harvest and abundance. The process of samani cultivation starts from the first week and ends up at the last week of Novruz. It is believed that if samani grows well, then the year is expected to be very productive.

The spring arrival is celebrated with multiple ceremonies, traditional games and fortune-telling.