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Caucasus & Central Asia travel
Caucasus & Central Asia travel

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Azerbaijan, Baku. Soviet favelas of Rio de Janeiro

Azerbaijan is the first absolute monarchy in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The power of the ruler is not limited and literally passed from father to son. Even in the notorious Turkmenistan, the son of the late Turkmenbashi had to leave his homeland and emigrate to Russia. The country is not as closed as Turkmenistan but it is still rulled by a firm hand. Unlike in neighbouring Georgia and Armenia, one will need visa to Azerbaijan that is not always easy to obtain.

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The current president was not an active politician and was rarely seen on TV before his father death. So there were assumptions that he would be a nominal ruler, but they proved to be wrong. Ilham Aliyev was not timid and quickly took over his father’s position. 



That's when Heydar Aliyev’s personality cult has reached unprecedented heights. A strange feature of this cult is that Azerbaijanis are not limited to the installation of monuments at home, but strive to put them all over the world, causing confusion among the locals.



Heydar Aliyev successfully replaced Lenin in Azerbaijan. His remarks and quotes can be seen nearly everywhere. For the enlightenment of the people, the quotes are placed at the entrance to each of underground passage.



The son follows his father and compiles his own book of quotations. 





Obviously, the entrance to each school would also have the quote of the former or current presidents. 



Inside the school... would be the same situation.





At the same time the dictatorship in Azerbaijan does not look intimidating. Azerbaijan resembles a comic rotten Latin American banana republic from the book "Cabbages and Kings" by O. Henry. It is hard be taken seriously when the president addressed as "His Excellency."





Even taxi drivers in Azerbaijan is not afraid openly admit that all oil revenues go primarily to enrich the royal family. While seem to be rich if looking at oil revenues per capita, the average salary even in Baku does not exceed $400. For comparison, the global measure of prices a Big Mac at McDonald's, costs in Azerbaijan $5 against $3 in Russia. And it is obviously not the good life at home drives people to leave Azerbaijan in search of work in Russia and other countries.

So how the average people of Baku live like? Baku has a population of two and half million, most of whom live not in the city centre in the beautiful buildings, but in familiar to all of us homes.



Visiting the outskirts one can easily imagine still being in USSR. This is a typical quarters that has not been renovated. 



Renovated houses in the city center on the inside look not really better. If you look into the yard, you can see the following. 



Like in any self-respecting southern city, each one attaches balconies and attics, as much as one can. 



This is how typical old quarters look like.  



Now it is time to look at real slums, or ‘mahalla’ - how they call them here. It is on the site of mahallas appear multi-storey buildings. Authentic slums can be seen, if you climb up the mountain, where there is the Baku TV Tower.





At first it's just a very old houses with a bunch of unauthorized construction. 



Soviet ruins.



Small shop stands on pipes.



Now the real life begins 







Pipes, wiring, walls everywhere



Stairs going up upstairs, just like in the Dona Marta.



The roofs are used as a dumping site for broken stones.



Someone’s roof is made of a piece of slate, which is held in place by dozen of bricks.



There is not really much difference between Rio de Janeiro's favelas



Surprisingly, this road is used by cars 



Residents of the favelas can be consoled by the fact that the views are excellent.
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We often get asked by customers planning to visit Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) what is the best country for tourists, where to spend most of the time and how to budget expenses. Without lenghty considerations the first place will definitely will go to Georgia as the most tourist friednly place to go in the Caucasus – it is the easiest to visit, has the most developed tourist infrastructure, some of the friendliest people and the widest variety of sights and activities. At this point, it does not yet feel overrun with tourists, but get there fast as it likely won’t be long before the secret is out! The second and the third place can be shared by Armenia and Azerbaijan with each having its own pros & cons.

It is definitely worth to visit all three Caucasus countries as they all boast a wealth of ancient historical sites (some dating back to the 4th century!), beautiful mountain scenery and endless opportunities for adventure.  Still, allocate most of your time for Georgia with 3-5 days for the each of other two republics. 

Armenia is the cheapest out of three. One can eat a good lunch for about $3, take a taxi anywhere in the city for less than $4 and even marshrutka ride from Yerevan to Tbilisi would be cheaper than going the other direction. Georgia comes in second, with a plethora of hostels to choose from in most major cities, cheap food and reasonably priced taxis for most day trips. Azerbaijan comes in a distant third. Prices in Baku were nearly at western European levels (thoug with recent devaluation of local Manat in 2015 things should get easier for foreign visitors). The country has few hostels and rates at smaller hotels start from 60-70 USD. Even homestays and guiding services outside of the capital are pricey compared to neighboring Georgia and Armenia.

Getting around could reasonably be a three-way tie as each country in the Caucasus has its own benefits and challenges. In both Georgia and Armenia, the unfamiliar alphabets can make getting around a challenge – you can’t read the signs to tell where a given bus or marshrutka is headed. At least the Azeri language uses mostly a Latin alphabet. On the plus side, in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, digital signs at the bus stops include the Latin alphabet translations of bus route destinations, making things a little easier. Likewise, announcements on the Tbilisi Metro are made in both English and Georgian while those on the Baku Metro are only in Azeri.  The Metro in Yerevan might have been the most difficult as signs were only in Armenian and Russian and announcements only in Armenian.

When it comes to intercity transport, Azerbaijan seems slightly more organized than the others. The prevalence of buses in the country means there are schedules on which you can somewhat rely instead of the typical marshrutka that just leaves when full – although buses traveling between smaller towns tend to be decrepit Soviet-era buses.

The new bus station in Baku has clearly labeled bays for both buses and marshrutkas – it was heaven compared to the mass chaos that I found at Didube Bus Station in Tbilisi, where the only way to find the marshrutka you need is to wander around and ask. Likewise, transportation out of Yerevan is made more confusing by the fact that the bus station or parking lot from which a given marshrutka departs often changes without warning.

Georgia’s government has made it a priority to improve the country’s image as a tourist destination and you can feel the effects throughout the country. From the brand new border control stations to rebuilt roads up to mountain villages, the investment is clear. Whereas a few years ago a trip to the region of Svaneti would require an overnight train ride from Tbilisi followed by a six hour drive up perilous mountain roads, the construction of a new, paved road has cut the time down to three hours.
Tourist information is also readily available in nearly every city in Georgia – and tourist information offices in Tbilisi, Batumi, Mestia, and Mtskheta are managed by friendly English-speaking staff. 

While the Azeri government made a big effort to welcome tourists to Baku for the recent Eurovision 2012 finals and 1st Olympic European Games in 2015 in Baku, from all indications they have largely ignored the rest of the country concentrating just on Baku. Armenia arguably lags behind on the tourism front, with the Visitor Information Center in the capital of Yerevan closing due to lack of funding a few years ago. To Armenia’s advantage, most of the major sites are easy day trips from Yerevan.

The big question is – what does each country have to offer in terms of sightseeing and activities? Georgia and Armenia are very similar, with many, if not most, of their major sites focusing on the ancient history of Christianity in those countries. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its religion back in the 4th century and Georgia followed just thirty years later. This means that a majority of major sites are monasteries and churches, some of which are more interesting than others. Georgia additionally boasts a couple of cave monasteries built into the sides of cliffs and Armenia recently opened the world’s longest cable car taking tourists 5.7 kilometers across the Vorotan Gorge to Tatev Monastery.

In addition to its religious sites, Georgia has a burgeoning wine industry and a long history of wine-making, as well as an up and coming resort city in Batumi on the Black Sea coast. Add in the mountain regions and hiking opportunities in Svaneti and there seems to be a little bit of something for everyone.
Azerbaijan doesn’t have nearly the religious sites that its neighbors do, although a few ruined churches are scattered throughout the country.  Not far from Baku are petroglyphs, quirky mud volcanoes, a so-called fire temple and the James Bond Oil Field (featured in the opening scenes of The World is Not Enough). For some, the main draw would the mountains and hiking opportunities in the northern and northwestern parts of the country, although those closest to the Russian border have recently been limited.

Visa regime is most relaxed at Georgia with Western nationals allowed to visit visa free and stay for up to 360 days. Visas to Armenia may be obtained upon arrival at the airport and land borders and cost about $8 for a 21 day visa or $35 for 120 days. On the other end of the spectrum is Azerbaijan with tight visa regime, no visas upon arrival, with visa costs starting from 100$ and above. They introduced recently evisas to easen the process, but it still takes 2-3 weeks to get one through approved travel agency in Azerbaijan and costs around 100 USD. 
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Uzbek Cuisine

Though the nation of Uzbekistan is relatively new, gaining independence only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, their culture is one of the most ancient and rifined in Central Asia. One particulary distinctive and well-developed aspect of Uzbek culture is their cuisine. Unlike their nomadik neighbours, the Uzbeks have had a settled civilization for centuries. Between the deserts and mountains, in the oasis and fertile valleys, they cultivated grain and domesticated livestock. The resulting abundunce of produce allowed them to express their strong tradition of hospitality, which in turn enriched their cuisine.

The seasons, specifically winter and summer, greatly influence the composition of the basic menu. In the summer, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are ubiquitous. Fruits grow in abundance in Uzbekistan - grapes, melons, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, pomegranates, lemons, figs, dates. Vegetables are no less plentiful, including some lesser known species such as green redishes, yellow carrots, dozen of pumpkin and squash varieties, in addition to the usual eggplants, peppers, turnips, cucumbers and luscious tomatoes.

The winter diet traditionally consists of dried fruits and vegetables and preserves. Hearty noodle or pasta-type dishes are also common chilly-weather fare.

In general, mutton is the preferred source of protein in the Uzbek diet. Fatty-failed sheep are prized not only for their meat and fat as a source of cookingoil, but for their wool as well. Beef and horsemeat are also consumed in substantial quantities. Camel and goat meat are less common.

The wide array of breads, leavened and unleavend, is a staple for the majority of the population. Flat bread, or nan, is usually baked in tandoor ovens, and served with tea, not to mention at every meal. Some varieties are prepared with onions or meat in the dough, others topped with sesame seeds or kalonji.

Central Asia has a reputation for the richness and delicacy of their fermented dairy products. The most predominant - katyk, or yoghurt made from sour milk, and suzma, strained clotted milk simmilar to cottage cheese, are eaten plain. in salads, or added to soups and main products, resulting in a unique and delicious flavor.

Palov, the Uzbek version of "pilaff", is the flagship of their cookery. It consists mainly of fried and boiled meat, onions, carrots and rice; with raisins, barberries, chickpeas, or fruit added for variation. Uzbek men pride themselves on their ability to prepare the most unique and sumptuous palov. The oshpaz, or master chief, often cooks palov over an open flame, sometimes serving up to 1000 people from a single couldron on holidays or occasions such as weddings. It certainly takes years of practice with no room for failure to prepare a dish, at times, containing up to 100 kilograms of rice.

Uzbek dishes are not notably hot and fiery, though certainly flavorful. Some of their principle spices are black cumin, red and black peppers, barberries, coriander, and sesame seeds. The more common herbs are cilantro (fresh coriander), dill, parsley, celeriac, and basil. Other seasonings include wine vinegar, liberally applied to salads and marinades, and fermented milk products.

Tea is revered in the finest oriental traditions. It is offered first to any guest and there exists a whole subset of mores surrounding the preparation, offering and consuming of tea. Green tea is the drink of hospitality and predominant. Black tea is preferred in Tashkent, though both teas are seldom taken with milk or sugar. An entire portion of their cuisine is dedicated solely to tea drinking. Some of these include samsa, bread, halva, and various fried foods.

The "choyhona" (teahouse) is a cornerstone of traditional Uzbek society. Always shaded, preferably situated near a cool stream, the choyhona is gathering place for social interaction and fraternity. Robed Uzbek men congregate around low tables centered on beds adorned with ancient carpets, enjoing delicious palov, kebab and endless cups of green tea.
#uzbekfood   #uzbekcuisine   #uzbekmeal   #pilav   #plov   #somsa   #shurpa   #barbeque   #uzbekistan   #uzbekistantravel   #asia   #euroasiatravel   #trip   #food   #adventures   #traditional   #плов   #сомса  
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Uzbek Dances 
Arts of Uzbekistan

Dances connected with everyday life, religious rites, and holidays have existed since ancient times among the peoples inhabiting Central Asia, as indicated by drawings on rock walls depicting dancing figures.
Professional dancers from Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent were widely known in many states of the East between the fourth and eighth centuries B.C. Historical chronicles refer to the popularity and high level of development of dance between the 9th, 12th, 14th and 16th centuries.
Contemporary Uzbek dance has many genres, forms, and schools, including the classical Uzbek dances. In contrast to the classical dances of other peoples of the East, which mainly tell stories by means of gestures, facial mimicry, and pantomime, Uzbek classical dance is devoid of concrete imagery; the dance movements themselves express emotions. Classical Uzbek dances deal with generalized themes and emotions, for example, happiness and grief, joy and sorrow, life, death and delight and the beauty of nature and grandeur of the elements. Uzbek folk dances, which deal with themes of labor and war, also use the movements of the classical Uzbek school.

Uzbek classical dance eventually formed three schools, those of Fergana, Khorezm and Bukhara, each of which had its own dance expression, as well as a developed system of training. The Fergana school, because of historical conditions, was however the most highly developed.

Despite the high level of professional dance, by the beginning of the 20th century Uzbek folk dance had nearly ceased to exist, since it was prohibited by Islamic edicts. Dance continued to develop only among professionals, who danced in solo performances, while the common people did not dare dance, even on national holidays.

In 1918, Uzbek national dance began its transformation into a practically new folk art.

In 1923, Kari Jakubov formed a troupe including well known musicians and the young dancer Tamara Khanum.

The first Traveling ethnographic troupe, organized in 1926, included well known musicians, singers, and dancer choreographers. In 1928 the troops made up the core of the first experimental musical drama. The new genre of stage dance, later gained wide recognition. The theatre also operated a studio. The Uzbek Song and Dance Ensemble, established in Tashkent in 1936, assimilated the best traditions of folk and classical Uzbek choreography; known as Shodlik. The Bakhor Ensemble, directed by M. Turgunbaev, was founded in 1957, and the Liazgi Khorezm Song and Dance Ensemble, directed by People's Artist of the Uzbekistan G.A. Rakhimova, was established in 1958. 

#Uzbekistan  #Uzbekdance #artofuzbekistan   #Uzbekart   #Dance   #travel   #trip   #silkroad   #uzbekistantravel   #euroasiatravel   #journey   #beauty   #woman   #videooftheday   #videooftheweek  
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 A Traditional Culture of Kyrgyzstan 

Yurta

Yurta is a small dwelling, decorated with hand-made felt carpets and strips. Having its routes at ancient Turkic tribes yurta took all the best from many centuries' experience of people. Kyrgyz tribes, occupied with nomadic cattle-breeding in mountains, worked out the best type of transportable dwelling that is easily disjointed, moved on pack animals and again set.

Yurta consists of wooden construction and felt cover.

Latticed sliding walls (kerege) consist of separate links. They define sizes of yurta. From the external side kerege are covered with mats, made of cheegrass stalk. It lets air the dwelling and the same time keep it from wind and dust.

Sphere roof of yurta is made of sharp-cut bend from one side poles - uuk. By one side, where bend is, they are fixed in the upper part of wall basis, by other side they are set to the wholes in tunduk - wooden circle at the top of yurta.

Yurta is made of willow and only for tunduk, that is the whole for smoke, going out of the yurta, they use more solid kinds of wood (birch, juniper).

Yurta is covered by felts of different types. That are tunduk jabuu, tuunduk, uzuktor. Felt cover is connected with its frame by narrow woven and leather stripes. The cover of tunduk is moveable and the hole for smoke is easily opened in the morning and closed in the night with help of long lassos. The doorway is covered with felt or woven ornamented curtain.

Yurta can be set for 1 hour.

Internal and external sides of yurta are rich decorated with different ornamented items made of felt, applications, braided patterned fringe, multicolored tassels (chachyk) and patterned braid (terenchek boo).

During the years not only yurta but its interior has changed. Right side of the yurta was considered women's part (epchi jak). Here colored bags with felt applications, clothes, head-dresses, jewelry, needle work of mistress and pottery were kept. Place for food was separated with screen from ornamented mat (chygdak).

Left side was for men (er jak), there the best clothes and head dresses of men were hanging, closer to entrance there was harness.

Place in the opposite of entrance was considered honorary (tor). At this part of the wall there was the row of trunks where rarely used patterned carpets were laid. The more carpets - the richer people living in the yurta. At the floor of the yurta only the best carpets - ala-kiyiz were put, then shirdaks, and on them - narrow quilts (toshok) or fur lays - koldolosh. Tor was the centre of yurta. It was place for the most honorary guests. "When you are the guest, don't sit to tor". If the person more honorary than you will come, than the master will tell you "Give place to him!". And you will have to give place before all the guests. So when you are guest, take less honorary place. And the master of the house will come and tell: "Respected, please, go to tor", then your authority will go up before everybody"). Before sitting guests they were put the kind of table-cloth - dostarkhan. In the middle of the yurta they burnt the fire and cooked the meals. It is called kolomto. Rich people cooked their dishes in special yurtas - ashkanas. Poor people lived in smoked small yurtas (boz ui, kara ui), where they kept not only their utilities (bed, pottery), but in the cold time of the year - new born calves and lambs.

In yurta people are always surrounded by comfortable carpets, woven and embroidered covers, blankets and pillows and other utilities often made by mistress herself. Materials that she needs are felt, fleecy cloths, fur, textile, cheegrass, the main graphic is color and ornament.

The coloring of Kyrgyz national cloths, carpets, embroideries is saturated and cheerful. It's composed of strong, contrast colors, where warm colors - red and brown prevail. In the past masters used natural colors. Ornament has its origin from far Bronze epoch, but gradually it was improved and expanded. Its elements were taken from flora and fauna that were surrounding the nomadic people. The main motif of Kyrgyz ornament was curl "kochkor" - stylized ram's horn. Sinuous line with rhythmically placed curls is named "kyal" - "dream", "fantasy". It also reminds the branch of flourishing tree.

#yurta  #kyrgyzstan #traditionofkyrgyzstan   #eurasia   #eurasiatravel   #trip   #travel   #travelphotography   #journey   #photooftheday   #followme  
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A Traditional Culture of Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz people are one of the nomadic Turkic peoples - that have roamed Central Asia over the centuries. 
The nomadic way of life was so ingrained into the Kyrgyz psychology that even the communist system, with collectivisation, proved incapable (and eventually unwilling) to break it down. Although grateful to the Bolsheviks, on one hand for rescuing them from the worst excesses of Tsarist colonisation, the Kyrgyz never fully adopted their political philosophy. They remained the least politicised of all the Central Asian peoples. For years the local Russians dominated the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan. Reluctant to give up their lifestyle, the Kyrgyz forfeited the right to take on a major political role in their own republic. Rather than face forced collectivisation, having first slaughtered tens of thousands of animals to avoid their handover to the communists, many Kyrgyz fled across the mountainous border into China where the Kyrgyz Autonomous Region in Xingjian Province was formed.
The nomadic tradition is so strong that some say that it is only in death, when he is buried, that a Kyrgyz stop wandering. Kyrgyz graveyards are interesting sites, often set on high ground and instead of simple headstones, a small mausoleum is constructed from clay bricks, or a steel frame of a yurt placed over the grave.
Before Independence approximately 85% of the population lived in rural regions. However, with the recent trend of urban drift this proportion has fallen to 61% according to official statistics. Only about 7% of the land is arable (and most of this requires irrigation) and used to grow grains, vegetables, fruit cotton and tobacco.
Its livestock has always vastly outnumbered the population of Kyrgyzstan. In fact, the Kyrgyz apparently produced enough buttermilk, yoghurt and cheese to feed the entire Soviet Union.
For centuries, and even today, the backbone of the economy has been animal husbandry - sheep, yak and horse breeding for wool, meat, milk and fat. For centuries horses and sheep were the main currency of exchange to buy goods, a weapon or even a wife. Even today, in everyday talk, many costs are measured as a number of sheep, (for example, the cost of a driving license is said to be about one and a half sheep!) 
The main source of protein for much of the population comes from kurut, (small balls of cheese made from sheep milk - especially in the winter) and koumiss or kumys, (fermented mare’s milk - a strong and bitter drink).  
Horses play an important role in the life of nomadic peoples, and Kyrgyz ponies were famous and prized possession because they were strong and sturdy, bred to travel great distances with flocks and herds of animals. Children would be placed in a saddle and learn to ride a horse almost as soon as they learn to walk. Even today, herds of horses can be seen wandering mountain pastures. Horsemeat is also highly revered food - horses are specially bred and never ridden to ensure the tenderest meat. For a major celebration or a funeral then horse is the staple meat that is served. A horse is, in fact, a major investment for a Kyrgyz. 
In the countryside, nothing is respected more highly than skill with horses. Horse races that test both speed and skill can stretch over 30 kilometres and games played on horseback form the centre of festivals.  One such “game” is oodarysh which involves two competitors on horseback whose bodies are covered with sheep fat, who try to wrestle each other to the floor. Another, Kok Buro, involves two teams trying to score “goals” by carrying or throwing a weighted carcass of a goat across the opposing team’s goal line. Perhaps more “romantic” is Kyz Kumai where a man chases a woman, both on horseback, attempting to kiss her whilst she does her utmost to avoid him.  According to tradition, if he fails then she whips him - but if he is successful, then she is bound to fall in love with him as he has proved himself to be a truly skillful horseman.
Another activity in which horsemanship plays a major role is hunting, especially with eagles, which is still practiced only in certain regions of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Westerners tend to think of this as falconry – and although hunting with hawks and falcons does take place, it is looked down upon by those who hunt with eagles as a pastime for children and dilettantes. A skilled pair, hunter and bird, can typically catch 50 or 60 foxes a dozen badgers, a couple of lynx and 4 or 5 wolves in a normal 4 month season, which starts in the late autumn. Eagles rarely fail to catch their prey, which it quickly kills, usually by breaking the neck in its powerful claws. 
The capture, training and keeping of eagles is a highly ritualised activity. Most of the birds, which can have a life expectancy of 40 years, are caught young, hooded and placed in a cage with a perch that constantly sways while the berkutchi (hunter) sings and chants to it, to impress his personality on the bird. The hunter begins to feed the bird and then train it by dragging a fox fur behind a galloping horse. Not all eagles can be so trained, but those that do show intense loyalty. Although never tethered they always return after killing their prey.
In addition to the sheep, goat and horsemeat, which the Kyrgyz nomad would eat, fish - especially from mountain rivers and Lake Issyk Kul is a highly favoured food. Beef and Chicken are less common elements of the Kyrgyz diet.
The sheep kept by the nomad provide food throughout the year. When important guests arrive, and for certain festivals, a sheep will be slaughtered, butchered and cooked immediately. The most common dish, which is prepared, is beshbarmak, which is eaten in the hands, not using a knife and fork, ("besh" means five, and "barmak", finger). This meal consists of noodles, which are mixed with boiled meat cut into tiny pieces and served with a medium spicy sauce. Bouillon is then poured over the mixture. The head of the sheep will be given to the most honoured guest.
The sheep provide not only meat, but also the wool, which is the basis of felt. Felt is the cloth that is most commonly used - for clothes, yurts, rugs and decoration. The traditional method of manufacture is still employed today. A circle of women first thrashes the wool with whips, then lay it out on two long, thick layers of hessian. This is then rolled into a bolt and soaked in water that has been heated by a fire of dung. To mat the fibres together it is then rolled back and forward, kicked and trodden on - and sometimes dragged by horses galloping across mountain meadows. To make a yurt, between 130 and 170 kilograms of wool are needed and a family needs a flock of at least thirty-three sheep a year for basic sustenance.  
#kyrgyzstan #traditionofkyrgyzstan   #eurasia   #eurasiatravel  #travel #trip #photooftheday   #followme   #history  
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Azerbaijani cuisine

Yoghurt cheese with dill recipe (Shuyudlu suzme)

Suzme is a tangy, creamy cheese made by straining the water out of plain yoghurt. The name suzme comes from the verb süzmək, meaning to filter.

For shuyudlu suzme (şüyüdlü süzmə), the yoghurt cheese is mixed with dill and garlic. Shuyudlu suzme is usually served as one of several appetisers, alongside herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers and white cheese.

Preparation time: 2.5 hours
Cooking time: 0
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

800 g/2 lb of full-fat plain yoghurt
1 tspn of salt
bunch of dill
4-5 cloves of garlic

Preparation

Add a teaspoon of salt to the yoghurt and mix in. This will help to filter out the water.
Place a double layer of cheesecloth or muslin over a sieve. Put the yoghurt in the centre of the cloth and gently pull up the edges, tying them at the top to make a ball.
Hang the ball of yoghurt over a bowl in the fridge or a cool place.
After a few hours, gently squeeze the ball of yoghurt/suzme to expel excess water.
Don’t leave the yoghurt ball for too long (e.g. overnight), or the suzme will be drier and more like a cheese than is required for this dish.
Take the suzme and place in a bowl. Add the finely chopped dill, crushed garlic and salt to taste and mix well.
Leave the suzme for an hour or two in the fridge for the flavours to mingle.
Serve with fresh bread, herbs and white cheese.

#azerbaijan   #azerbaijanfood   #suzume   #yoghurtcheese   #recipe   #recipeoftheday   #photooftheday   #asia   #euroasia   #euroasiatravel  
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Traditional dress of Uzbekistan

The culture of Uzbekistan doesn’t come from a sole background but it is a blend of various ethnic groups and communities. The population mainly consists of the Uzbek, the Russians, the Tajiks and the Armenians, so the cultural and traditional values are much influenced by these nations. Same is the case with the traditional dress of Uzbekistan. Till the end of the nineteenth century, the Islamic impression was dominated upon the traditional clothing of Uzbekistan. Like other Central Asian states, the clothing mainly included the long tunic shirts, a wide pants and a jacket. As we have told you earlier there is not much difference in the male and female Tajik traditional dress, the position was the same for the traditional Uzbek attire. The males had the horizontal neckline opening while the females had the vertical ones. Designs and the patterns were almost the same for the whole classes; however the quality of the decoration, embroidery and fabric was superior for the upper class.

The traditional costume for Uzbek men comprised of a loose fitting cotton coat that was actually a long-sleeved jacket prepared with a fabric of colorful stripes. This was also called as “Khal’at”. Normally a white tunic shirt was used underneath that was folded by a banded fabric. Trousers were stitched wider but narrowed to the bottom and were tucked into soft leather boots with pointed toes. A typical Uzbek cap or turban was a compulsory accessory to the traditional Uzbek costume for men.

Similarly, the traditional dress of the Uzbek women was also including the “Khal’at” same like the men’s coat, loose cut pants and a wide tunic shirt. The sleeves of the tunic shirt were kept wide till the wrists and the bottom of the pants were embellished with floral decorations. A proper head covering was must for the Uzbek woman so they used a scarf tied round the head, leaving long ends hanging down the back. Similarly, a woman was required to cover herself with a cloak when outside of the house. For footwear, the Uzbek women used low heeled shoes made of leather.

#uzbekistan   #uzbekclothes   #traditions   #uzbekistantraditions   #evrasiatravel   #tagsforlikes   #followme  #trip #travel 
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The Caucasus Mountains are a mountain system in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region.

The Caucasus Mountains include the Greater Caucasus Range, which extends from the Caucasian Natural Reserve in the vicinity of Sochi on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, generally trending east-southeast and reaching nearly to Baku on the Caspian Sea; and the Lesser Caucasus, which runs parallel to the greater range, at a distance averaging about 100 km (62 mi) south. The Meskheti Range is a part of the Lesser Caucasus system. The Greater and Lesser Caucasus ranges are connected by the Likhi Range, which separates the Kolkhida Lowland from the Kura-Aras Lowland. In the southeast are the Talysh Mountains. The Lesser Caucasus and the Armenian Highland constitute the Transcaucasian Highland. The highest peak in the Caucasus range is Mount Elbrus in the Greater Caucasus, which rises to a height of 5,642 metres (18,510 ft) above sea level. Mountains near Sochi hosted part of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
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