A dish worthy of a king – or perhaps simply the main course of a wedding ceremony – shah pilaf (translated as crown pilaf) is a traditional Azerbaijani meal infused with a medley of local aromas. It goes through several stages of preparation before reaching its distinctive final shape.
First, basmati rice is cooked, then placed inside a bowl lined with lavash (a thin and soft wheat-based flatbread). Layers of dried apricots, plums, chestnuts, and raisins are added on top of the rice to create a unique blend of textures and flavors.
For an even more diverse flavor profile, some variations also include lamb or chicken meat dispersed within the layers. The filling is completed by pouring a small amount of saffron water into the bowl, after which it is covered with lavash and baked until golden-brown.
Due to the fact that the dish can remain warm for up to several hours, it is a favorite at weddings, dinner parties, and other special occasions.