Hiking in Azerbaijan's Gabala and a taste of slow food cuisine

Hiking in Azerbaijan's Gabala and a taste of slow food cuisine
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By Monica Pinna

The latest edition of Explore Azerbaijan, looks at nature, culture, and food. Our reporter Monica Pinna embarks on a hike in Gabala, and enjoys the breathtaking views. She also experiences a special slow-cooked Gabala dish using Ata-Baba hazelnuts.

Gabala lies in the foothills of the Caucasus mountains. A well-known ski destination, Gabala’s great outdoors is a hiking haven for the rest of the year. I walked along the bright pebbled riverbed together with tour guide Hayal Hajanmedov, up to a waterfall 2,000 meters above sea level.

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The Demiraparanchai river in the GabalaEuronews

There are other methods of exploring the region's beauty including paragliding and cycling, but we chose a slow- paced walk to fully embrace the wilderness experience and get off the beaten track. 

But the Gabala region is not only about wild landscapes. Hazelnut fields are a common sight in a country that is the third-largest hazelnut exporter in the world. The 'Ata-Baba' variety produced in the Gabala region is particularly famous. Imran, who grew up there, explains why:

“Compared to other local hazelnuts, the ones from Gabala stand-out because of their high oil content and overall quality. Ata-Baba is a centuries-old variety of hazelnut, hence its name literally “from father to son.”

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The Gabala region is famous for its hazelnut fieldsEuronews

These hazelnuts are one of the pillars of Azerbaijan’s slow-food cooking. To understand how they are used in the local cuisine, chef Nijat Kermimli helped me prepare a special regional dish, hazelnut Lula, made from ground hazelnuts, honey, and sugar. 

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A Gabala Speciality dish for the Ata-Bata hazelnutsEuronews

Lula is a traditional dessert. It can be served after some other local classics such as meat kebabs, vegetables, and a vast number of handmade starters. An unforgettable feast!