The culture of baking and sharing thin bread: Lavash

Lavash is a soft, thin unleavened flatbread made of flour and water.

By Heydar Aliyev Center

LavashHeydar Aliyev Center

Lavash is a soft, thin unleavened flatbread made of flour and water. It is used by every family in Azerbaijan and offered along with other types of bread.

Lavash in cusineHeydar Aliyev Center

In the morning, Azerbaijani people put butter and cheese on lavash and wrap it up to make a durmek to eat with sweet tea. Lavash is served accompanying lule-kebab in restaurants and cafés, and ehsan halva is also wrapped in lavash.

Lavash is also used for cooking pilaff and the name lavash can be found in various culinary recipes. This is an indication of people's rich imagination. In many regions, lavash is dried and kept in storage for long periods.

Dry lavash can be ready to eat at any time by sprinkling it with water.

Baking lavashHeydar Aliyev Center

Lavash is made in traditional ovens on the tandoor and, if cooked very thin, it can be cooked on a saj. Baking lavash is a collective activity; all members of the family, as well as neighbours and friends in some settlements and villages, participate in the process.

During communal work joking prevails, a jovial mood and friendships, and hospitality traditions are strengthened. Perhaps this is why lavash has become a symbol of tradition with deep roots in Azerbaijan.

Lavash is the basis of Azerbaijan cuisineHeydar Aliyev Center

Lavash is cut during many important events - in weddings, marriage ceremonies, and mourning rituals. Thus, the tradition of preparing and cutting lavash is the basis of Azerbaijan cuisine. In archaeological excavations carried out in the country’s territory, artefacts used for the preparation of lavash and belonging to the Bronze Age have been found.

This shows that the method of preparing lavash has remained unchanged over the centuries. And this fact is the embodiment of the Azerbaijani people's commitment to their centuries-old tradition.

UNESCO - Flatbread making and sharing culture: Lavash, Katyrma, Jupka, YufkaHeydar Aliyev Center

At the 11th Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, held from November 28 to December 2, 2016, in the capital city Addis-Ababa of Ethiopia, “Lavash, Katirma, Jupka, Yufka - the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture”, jointly presented by Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, at Azerbaijan’s initiative, was included in UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The culture of baking and sharing thin bread: Lavash, Katirma, Jupka, YufkaHeydar Aliyev Center

The culture of making and sharing flatbread in communities of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey carries social functions that have enabled it to continue as a widely-practised tradition. Making the bread (lavash, katyrma, jupka or yufka) involves at least three people, often family members, with each having a role in its preparation and baking. In rural areas, neighbours participate in the process together.

In traditionsHeydar Aliyev Center

In Azerbaijan and Iran, it is put on the bride’s shoulders or crumbled over her head to wish the couple prosperity while in Turkey it is given to the couple’s neighbours. At funerals in Kazakhstan it is believed the bread should be prepared to protect the deceased while a decision is made from God and in Kyrgyzstan sharing the bread provides a better afterlife for the deceased.

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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