One of the most beautiful memories that I have brought back from Azerbaijan has been the Azeri passion for food and the warmth they extend to those who appreciate this passion. The warmth that envelopes you as the food bearers — be it the lady of the house or the restaurant server — place the food on the table and serve it makes you feel like a king about to feast!
I promise to make your mouths salivate and ensure that you dream about the wealth that is the Azerbaijani cuisine soon but before that, I do need to touch upon and introduce you to a fascinating experience that is part of the Azeri social fabric. This is the drinking of chai or tea, served with some local or homemade fruit preserve that they call ‘jam’.
The mention of tea and jam in the same breadth will probably remind you of the famous Do-Re-Mi song from the classic movie The Sound of Music. Which might make you feel I’ve forgotten to write ‘bread’. But rest assured I have not!
The first time I was served tea and jam was on day one, after a gut bursting lunch. As the little crystal glass filled with the dark golden liquid floated towards me, I couldn’t help but think that the Gods and Goddesses of tea are working overtime to woo me over to their side. How else do you explain a coffee lover stumbling upon tea recipes (and trying them as you’ll read in Tale of Three Teas), venturing to the southern part of India to walk through the tea estates in Munnar (read Tales from Munnar) and then have a heart-to-heart with tea sommelier and artisan Snigdha (read Tea Time tête-à-tête)!