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Shaki kulcha – Sweet & spicy Shaki pastries

Shaki kulcha
Kulcha are a sweet, spicy pastry, traditionally baked in a clay oven.

The name kulcha (külçə) probably shares a root with the bread known as kulcha, popular in India and Pakistan. Two different types of kulcha are found in Azerbaijan: spicy kulcha from the northwestern town of Shaki (Şəki), the recipe for which is given here, and stuffed kulcha from the southern town of Lankaran.

Preparation time: 40 min
Cooking time: 30 min
Serves: 4-5


  • 750 g/1 lb 14 oz flour
  • 75 g/3 oz granulated sugar
  • 150 g/6 oz clarified butter
  • 1 egg
  • 15 g/0.5 oz yeast
  • salt
  • 1/2 tspn powdered coriander
  • 1/2 tspn powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tspn powdered cardamom
  • 1/2 tspn cinnamon
  • 1/4 tspn vanilla
  • a few threads of saffron
  • poppy seeds


  • Take the butter out of the fridge to allow it time to reach room temperature.
  • Put the threads of saffron into a cup and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.
  • Dissolve the yeast in 1 to 2 tablespoons of warm water.
  • Sieve the flour and salt onto a large board or into a large bowl and make a hole in the centre. Add half the butter, the egg and diluted yeast to the hole and gradually fold in the flour from the outside. Knead into a thick dough.
  • Cover with a clean teacloth and leave in a warm place to rise for 60 to 90 minutes.
  • Mix the dried spices together. Add the saffron infusion and the rest of the butter and mix well.
  • When the dough has risen, separate it into 300-600 g/12-24 oz portions, depending on how large you would like your kulcha to be. Roll the dough out into rounds 5-7 mm thick. Spread the surface with spicy butter and roll up the pastry.Roll it out again, this time into a round 1.5 cm thick.
  • Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Brush the cake with egg yolk. Make a pattern on the top with a fork or stamp the pattern on, using a traditional stamp (which you can still buy in Shaki). Sprinkle poppy seeds on top.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 190C/375F/Gas 5 for 25 to 30 minutes.

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