Spring 2002 (10.1)
Dishing Up Azeri Cuisine
Food in Budapest Marquise de Salade Restaurant
Above: Interior of Marquise de Salade, an
Azerbaijani restaurant in Budapest.
While working at Central European
University in Budapest, Hungary, I discovered a wonderful Azerbaijani
restaurant named "Marquise de Salade". The owners,
Sevinj (Seva) Mojiri and Dmitri (Dima) Kaplan, are both from
Baku. Seva is an Azerbaijani whose family moved from Tabriz,
Iran to Azerbaijan in the 1940s; her husband, Dima, is half-Russian
Left: A house specialty, "Sudaba Khanim"
In 1994, Dima opened
a salad bar restaurant in Budapest with the name Marquise de
Salade - a play of words on the Marquis de Sade. In 1998, they
expanded and renovated the restaurant, decorating it with beautiful
Azerbaijani carpets and pictures of Baku's Ichari Shahar (Inner
City). They also changed the menu to offer Azerbaijani and Georgian
The restaurant serves various traditional Azerbaijani dishes,
including shish kabab, lula kabab (made with ground lamb), yarpag
dolmasi (stuffed grape leaves), badimjan dolmasi (stuffed eggplant),
many kinds of plov (rice pilaf), ajab sandal (roasted eggplant,
tomato and bell pepper with lamb), dushbara (a soup made with
tiny dumplings), piti (a hearty lamb stew) and soyutma (roasted
lamb pieces). The chef's specialty is a salad called "Sudaba
Khanim" - named after Seva's mother, who also lives in Budapest.
Sometimes the owners find it challenging to locate the ingredients
that are essential to these dishes. For instance, it's hard to
find pomegranates, kutum (a freshwater fish that's stuffed with
walnuts and greens to make lavangi), sturgeon (delicious as a
kabab with pomegranate sauce), Azerbaijani greens, gurut (dehydrated
yogurt) as well as jams and preserves made of rose, walnut, eggplant
and mulberry. Even the right type of eggplant is hard to get
here in Budapest; the kind that the Hungarians use is not the
same as what we have in Azerbaijan.
Every Sunday morning, before the restaurant
opens, Seva and Dima traditionally cook a big pot of khash -
not for their customers, but for their close friends, like myself.
Khash is a very filling Azerbaijani dish that's great for cold
Right: Each night, waiters serve up Azerbaijani
favorites like kabab, dolmasi and plov.
It's made of calf's feet and left to stew all night long over
low heat, adding water occasionally. Khash is very filling and
is best eaten with a teaspoon of vinegar to assist digestion.
Vodka traditionally accompanies it as well. Azerbaijanis believe
that khash is very nutritious, especially for growing children
and people who are recovering from broken bones or other injuries.
Naturally, the Marquise de Salade is patronized by Azerbaijanis
who live in or pass through Budapest. But most of the restaurant's
customers are what Seva would call "curious intellectuals".
They tend to be upper-middle-class Russian speakers and Westerners
who live in Budapest. After a while, the foreigners began bringing
along their Hungarian friends, who usually prefer to eat in Hungarian
"korchmas" for a much cheaper price.
In the beginning, it seems the Hungarians associated this restaurant
with Russia, which they strongly dislike for historical political
reasons. It has taken them a while to recognize the diversity
of the so-called "post-Soviet culture"; now they are
learning to differentiate between Azerbaijani, Georgian, Ukrainian
and Armenian cultures. Once they try Azerbaijani food, they see
that it is much closer to Mediterranean cuisine than it is to
Marquise de Salade, Hajos 43,
Budapest - 1065, Hungary. Tel: (+36-30) 223-3520. To learn more
about Azerbaijani food, see the issue "Food! Glorious Food!"
AI 8.3 (Autumn 2000).
Vugar Seidov, who lives and works in Budapest, contributed to
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