Influenced by flavor palates of two distinct geographical regions, Azerbaijani cuisine offers nourishing dishes that bring the element of surprise to the table. This unique fusion of tastes and textures take the dining experience at Zeferan to a whole new level.
When trying a new cuisine for the first time, it is crucial to go beyond what’s served on the plate. You must look at the experience from a wider angle in order to understand and appreciate the cuisine. And Zeferan, Istanbul’s only Azerbaijani restaurant, offers exactly that. Composed in a way that it presents not only cultural authenticity and diversity on your plate but also a tasty travel experience to the beautiful country of Azerbaijan.
Many elements of the decor, such as traditional handicrafts and original paintings from Azerbaijani artists, have been brought from their place of origin to give diners the feeling of being culturally immersed in a genuine way. The menu explains which part of the country a particular dish comes from, providing an educational element that further amplifies the culinary experience.
According to Azerbaijani tradition, one should never welcome his guests with an empty table. That being said, a six-selection sherbet tray is brought to the table to prepare one's palate and complement the food. The menu begins with a “welcome setup” including cheese and charcuterie platters, stuffed eggplant wraps, cold spinach salad, grilled vegetable puree, a plate of seasonal greens, and last but not least, a selection of pickles. Meat lovers will appreciate the platter’s variety, with a selection of delicious chicken pâté, roast beef, pastrami, roulade, and beef tongue. If you already have your favorites, or if you are dining with a smaller party of two or three, each dish can be ordered separately.
At Zeferan, pay close attention to the plates. All dishes are served on unique antique plates, collected from various places in Azerbaijan. The small quirks you can see in each of them remind you of your grandmother’s collection of tableware that’s been gathered over the years.
To ensure you enjoy every course of the meal, it is crucial to pace yourself and to save room for each incoming delicacy. The selection of cold and hot starters are followed by soups, such as düşbere, meat-stuffed mini dumplings in fragrant broth served with crispy, unleavened flatbread, or dovğa, a soup made of yogurt and herbs. The variety of main courses is lavish with a focus on meats. Azerbaijan’s staple foods such as lula kebab (made of minced lamb meat), piti (slow-cooked lamb with chestnuts, dried plums and saffron), xengel (a type of pasta with a meat and yogurt topping), and şah pilav (crispy dough stuffed with beef, rice and dried fruit) are all part of the menu.
The traditional tea service following the main course might seem like an entire meal on its own. Beverages are followed by a selection of pastries, jams, nuts, and dried fruit. If you haven’t tried an exotic fruit known as feijoa, Zeferan offers you the opportunity to taste it in their special pie. Take your time with the tea and dessert service, as all of this delicious food is being served against a breathtaking view of the Marmara Sea and landmarks of the Historical Peninsula.
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