On every trip I make to Baku, Azerbaijan, there is one thing I ‘must’ do. That is get myself to Old City Baku to get me some taste of the local, traditionally made Təndir Bread. It is absolutely wonderful too not just taste but see prepared and learn more about it. I cannot of course show you the taste here but let me assure you it is ‘bloomin’ lovely.
In English it is more recognisably known as Tandoori Bread and in Azerbaijan it is the national bread. All over the country I have travelled from Sheki to Baku, Shahdag to Gabala and every time you stop to eat you are greeted with a warm aromatic Tandir bread to tear and share. Azerbaijan being on the ancient silk road it is not hard to see how a version this traditional bread became a staple here. From India and Pakistan all the way Westward and upwards from there, you can find a version of this bread made in this way.
It is made within a clay oven, one that is built up or within the ground. The charcoal within is burnt until the temperature is up to about 400 degrees C and the kneaded bread is stuck around the inside of the oven walls and baked.
Hence such a variety of names. I know the bread from where I love it, Baku, as Təndir. You may also know it as Tandoor, Tandyr, Tundur, Tanur and a whole host of similar names.
Here in Old City Baku I enjoy sitting in the sun, outside the old wooden bread cafe, watching people pass by, whilst eating some bread with a glass of traditional Azerbaijan black tea. You can watch them baking the bread there in front of you too.
Warm bread served with cheese and/or fresh cream. I find it all so moreish, so so moreish!
I wrote an article from one of my last visits on the dining in Baku, and this bread is a central ingredient of most meals that makes everything come together.
It becomes the side that you promptly go to whilst it is still warm and have it with many of your favourite dishes. Of all the meals I love in this country there is one that this bread goes with perfectly for me, the dolma! Seasoned minced lamb wrapped in vine leaves. I have never been able to replicate it myself how they do it here, damn!
Back home in England, writing this post and sorting the photos I am sat with massive hunger pangs. Looking forward to my next visit to Azerbaijan, knowing one of the first things I will do…. a trip out to enjoy some local, traditional bread.