The tradition of cooking and sharing Dolma as a sign of cultural identity

Dolma is one of the oldest national dishes of Azerbaijan.

By Heydar Aliyev Center

UNESCO - “The tradition of cooking and sharing dolma as a sign of cultural identity”Heydar Aliyev Center

Dolma is one of the oldest national dishes of Azerbaijan. It consists of wrapping fruits and vegetables (such as apples, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, quince, pumpkin, cucumbers, mushrooms) or meats (lamb, mutton, chicken, fish) in fresh or preserved leaves of grape, Rumex, hornbeam and quince.

Symbol of ethnic cuisineHeydar Aliyev Center

It has been a symbol of ethnic cuisine, along with pilaff and kebabs, served at wedding ceremonies and feasts, and is included in the cuisine of other peoples in the neighboring regions.

SarmaHeydar Aliyev Center

The name of the dish, of Turkish origin, indicates the technique of its preparation - filling vegetable, grape, Rumex, hornbeam and quince leaves, or a thin dough layer, with various stuffings. In some regions it is called “sarma”.

Dolma in AzerbaijanHeydar Aliyev Center

Dolma in Azerbaijan is also considered a seasonal dish. Depending on the season, it is made with different plant leaves and varieties of vegetables. Dolma from grape leaf can be prepared throughout the year. For this purpose, fresh leaves are supplied and and salted in spring and summer months.

Types of dolmaHeydar Aliyev Center

Dolma is divided into vegetarian, meaty and mixed varieties, depending on the stuffing. The contents of a vegetarian dolma usually consists of rice, legumes, greens and spices. The stuffing of the meaty dolma is made from both fried and raw minced beef.

In mixed dolmas, the contents of the stuffing may include beans, greens, and other ingredients added, alongside the meat. Although there are more than 30 varieties and variants of dolma in different regions of Azerbaijan, its cooking techniques have not changed.

Cultural heritageHeydar Aliyev Center

As indicated by the name, the specific nature of dolma and its various types are composed of minced meat and prepared with vegetables, mutton, beef, fish or poultry, legumes, greens and spices. In general, though the types of dolma are seasonal, it symbolises the abundance in the national Azerbaijani cuisine.

UNESCO - “The tradition of cooking and sharing dolma as a sign of cultural identity”Heydar Aliyev Center

The nomination titled “The tradition of cooking and sharing dolma as a sign of cultural identity” presented by Azerbaijan at the 12th Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, held on December 6, 2017, on Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea, was accepted for inclusion in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Traditional meal ‘dolma’Heydar Aliyev Center

Dolma tradition is a set of knowledge and skills relating to the preparation of the traditional meal ‘dolma’, which takes the form of small fillings (containing meat, onion, rice, peas and spices) wrapped in fresh or pre-cooked leaves or stuffed in fruits and vegetables.

TraditionHeydar Aliyev Center

The tradition is present throughout the Republic of Azerbaijan, and is perceived as a central culinary practice in all regions. It is enjoyed on special occasions and gatherings and expresses solidarity, respect and hospitality. It is transmitted from generation to generation and transcends ethnic and religious boundaries within the country. Bearers consist of traditional cooking practitioners, mostly women, and the wider community of people that use dolma for various cultural and social purposes.

UNESCO - “The tradition of cooking and sharing dolma as a sign of cultural identity”Heydar Aliyev Center

The tradition is transmitted through parent-child relationships, while formal transmission mainly occurs in vocational and apprenticeship schools. The element enjoys great visibility within Azerbaijani society, and its viability is ensured by the communities through numerous awareness-raising activities and events such as festivals, vocational schools that teach the tradition and the preparation of publications on the subject.

Credits: Story

Mahabbat Mehdiyeva
The Director of Museum Department, Heydar Aliyev Center

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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