The first night of vegan Azerbaijani food featured Plov ( a la keira), Greens Kutaby, and eggplant rolls.
The food was tasty, and successful (looked like it was supposed to, didn’t fall apart or burn), but it probably wasn’t at all familiar to someone actually from Azerbaijan. It was more about getting into the spirit, than getting it right.
The eggplant rolls were made from a recipe found at AZCookBook. It turned out somewhat differently though, as I didn’t read the recipe properly, didn’t have any vegan mayo, and forgot to add the walnuts. So, my eggplant rolls instead had sour cream, chard, corriander and garlis as their filling, and were grilled instead of fried. Also, they were quite small, because I was saving the rest of the eggplant for another dish, so I skewered them to keep them rolled up. They were, however, very good, and I would definitely make them again.
Similarly, my version of Kutaby with greens wasn’t perhaps exactly what it would have been in Azerbaijan. Kutaby are a fried fold-over bread with stuffing. I used a recipe I found on Azerbaijan24, which called for egg, butter oil, sorrel, lavashna, and matsoni, as well as the oil, flour and water. Hmmm, so no egg, no butter oil, no sorrel, and what is matsoni and lavashna? Apparently Matsoni is Caspian Sea Yoghurt (I ca’t help but put a hyphen between “sea” and “yoghurt” when I say it to myself, with makes me giggle), and Lavashna is rolled tablets of dried cherry plums.
So, my kutaby are made of a plain flour dough, filled with chard, corriander from our garden, onion, sumac, and a little Tofutti cream cheese for good measure. They are then fried in oil in my wok, and salted. The result: very yummy, fried bread things, but probably not at all like real kutaby.
The masterpiece of the night though was the Plov. Plov isn’t eaten often in Azerbaijan, and is usually kept for special occasions and ceremonies. It is a rice dish, which may be flavoured with saffron, spices, fruits and nuts, chestnuts, vegetables or meats. I found many recipes, but could not find many of the ingredients when I went shopping (there are many stores with the right ingredients, but I can’t read the packets to check what they are, or their vegan credentials).
My version was flavoured with saffron, and when that didn’t colour up, I added tumeric (not right, but whatever) as well. I used margarine instead of pouring butter over it (gotta love any recipe that calls for pouring butter), and added almonds and dried apricots. I served tofu and some vegies over it instead of chicken.
In the end it looked and tasted spectacular.
Keira’s version of Plov, vegan style
This recipe was adapted from many sources, but mostly resembles the one found here.
- Basmati rice, enough for 2 people
- Saffron threads
- Handful of almonds
- Dried apricots
- Margarine, about 2 tbsp
- 300g smoked tofu
- 1 small zuchini
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- mixed spice
- beef stock
- olive oil
- chop the onion and garlic finely
- chop the zucchini and tofu roughly
- Fry the onion and garlic in a saucepan until soft
- Put some water on to boil
- Add the tofu to the onion and garlic, and fry a little longer
- Add rice to the water and cook until tender
- Add two teaspoons of beef stock to the tofu, continue to fry, ensuring it doesn’t stick.
- Add zuchini, cardamon, cumin and mixed spice to the tofu. Add a little water (about 2 ml deep in frypan). Stew, stirring occasionally.
- Drain rice. Break into two parts. add saffron to 1/3 of the rice. If it colours, go you! if not, add tumeric, or give up on yellow rice. (i really haven’t mastered saffron).
- Place rice on a serving dish, decoratively. I added the yellow rice to each end of a shaped mound of white rice.
- Pour melted margarine or oil over the rice.
- Remove tofu from heat, and gentle place on top of rice, again, decoratively.
- Place almonds and apricots on top of rice. Make it pretty.
When I made it I added water a few times to the tofu, to stop it from sticking and keep it warm while I worked on the kutaby and eggplant rolls. I also made the rice to early, and had to fry it a little in the wok to reheat it.
The tofu was absolutely delicious, smoky and salty and warm with spices. I have no idea what the chicken version is supposed to taste like, but this was really good. I think the rice would have been better if I could have found more traditional ingredients such as chestnuts and sour plums.