Coppersmiths, herbal tea with jam and quatab

1041 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

June, 2023

Product name

Lahij Village

Product country

Azerbaijan

Product city

Lahij

Travelled with

Couple

Reasons for trip

Culture/Sightseeing

We visited Lahij, a pretty village famous for its Persian-based dialect and traditional coppersmiths, whilst travelling between the Azerbaijan capital, Baku, and Gabala.

Having turned off the main highway for the 19km drive to Lalij, we stopped at the Zarnava Suspension Bridge. Although originally designed to help villagers reach the hamlet of Zarnava, it’s now mainly used by selfie-snapping tourists, and we duly paid 2 Manat each (£1) for our photo opportunity. However, we weren’t tempted by a horse ride or the souvenir stalls selling dried herbs and lavash turshu, pickled fruit pancakes.

We continued our drive along a spectacularly narrow track with the Greater Caucasus mountains on one side and a steep drop on the other, with a wide dried-up riverbed below.

As the village is pedestrianised, we parked, declined the offer of yet another horse ride, and walked along a cobbled street into the centre. The population is around 2,000, and at 1211m above sea level, with the river running below it, there were lots of taps running to ease the water level.

We stopped at a coppersmith’s workshop where a man was beating a pot and having asked an innocent question about the various colours used in the decoration, there was a long and complicated explanation which our guide translated. At one point the craftsman went into the back for a piece of tin which is melted and used to coat the interior of the pots, giving us the opportunity for a few surreptitious photographs.

The village is now on the tourist route, and there were lots of souvenir shops and stalls, selling both a wide range of mountain herbs in various colours and Chinese made jewellery.

At the end of the village, we stopped at The Old Tea House to try herbal tea. We had three pots: the first, a vivid orange, was a secret blend of 19 herbs; another was flavoured with thyme and lemon in colour; whilst the third was lavender in both taste and colour. These were drunk Azeri style, by putting jam (walnut and rose flavours) in our mouth before sucking our tea through it.

Tea tasting over, we continued walking to a partially derelict 72 room house built from river stone, right on the river’s edge which is thought to be 300 years old. Nearby was the Badavun Mosque, built in 1791 and restored in 2021 when gold coins were found underneath, which may have belonged to the builder of the original mosque. As it was a village mosque, it was relatively simple, with room for 200 praying on the jigsaw of rugs, and with a wooden roof instead of ornate cupola. The original stones could be seen underneath a glass cover, and on the left hand side of the entrance was the grave of one of the previous Mosque akhunds or spiritual leader.

Before leaving we stopped at a small café to eat qutab, a thin semicircular folded bready pancake lightly stuffed with minced meat. These were being prepared to order in the garden where a lady expertly rolled out pieces of dough until they were incredibly thin. Cold, pre-cooked minced beef was placed in half of it before it was folded over, sealed, patted down and cooked for a short time on a very hot stone. We were then shown how to sprinkle sumac down the middle before rolling it up into a wrap. These were eaten with glasses of salty, watered-down yoghurt.

Unfortunately, the Lahij Museum of Local History, located in a former mosque, was closed and we continued on our journey feeling slightly nauseous from the combinations of food and drinks.

Helen Jackson

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