Saj ichi Recipe

Saj ichi Recipe

"Saj" takes its name from a flat pan or griddle over hot coals. Saj can be made from sturgeon, lamb, veal or chicken. Saj ichi - It is one of the most delicious dishes of Azerbaijani cuisine. Chicken or lamb is preferred as meat and it is cooked with vegetables in saj. Chef Ilkin Akper-zade shares the secrets of the dish. Here we share two recipes and directions of Saj ichi with you.!  

"Lamb Saj"


For two portions:

  • 250 grams of lamb
  • 300 grams of onion
  • saffron on the tip of a knife
  • half a teaspoon of thyme,
  • 100 grams of clarified butter or ghee
  • two sweet peppers
  • one aubergine
  • one tomato
  • herbs
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Cut the meat into small pieces. Heat the butter in the pan and fry the meat for five to seven minutes until it is semi-cooked. Add the onion, pepper, saffron, thyme, salt and pepper, and fry everything for 10 to 15 minutes until done. (Would you like to make this dish together?  Join our Cooking Masterclasses to learn and taste the national cuisine of Azerbaijan!)

Fry the aubergine and tomato separately. Place the ingredients on the saj with the cooked meat and onion in the middle and the vegetables at the side. In a restaurant the saj is brought to the table standing on a brazier. The hot coals in the brazier keep the dish warm for a long time.

"Saj-Fried Chicken with Vegetables"

Serves 4


1 medium chicken (about 3 pounds / 1 1/2 kg), cut into serving size pieces (leave the carcass to make broth for other uses) or 2 pounds (1 kg) combination of chicken parts, such as legs, thighs, breast, and wings
About 1/2 cup clarified butter (you can use regular unsalted butter with a few spoons oil added to it – this will prevent the butter from burning)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut lengthways into medium-thick slices
2 medium green bell peppers (can use a combination of green and red), cored, seeded, and cut into quarters lenghways
Handful of white mushrooms, wipe cleaned, sliced in half, or if big, in three
2 meduim dark-skinned eggplants, cut into medium-thick slices lenghways (remove bitterness: put slices in a colander placed in the sink, sprinkle generally with salt, put a weight on top, let sit about 20 minutes, gently squeeze the bitter juices, rinse, and pat dry).
2-3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into halves or wedges (small tomatoes can be left whole)

1 cup chicken broth (from the recipe)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider
3 tablespoosn tomato paste
6 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Ground black pepper


Put the chicken in a medium saucepan and fill the pan with enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, skimming off the rising froth with a slotted spoon, until the chicken is almost cooked, about 20 minutes. Strain the chicken, reserving the clean broth.

Prepare the sauce. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a saj over medium heat. Fry the potatoes in one layer on both sides, until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the potatoes onto a large plate. Brown the peppers in the same pan, adding more butter if necessary. Remove onto the plate. Cook the mushrooms about a minute, stirring often with a wooden spoom. Transfer onto a separate plate. Fry the eggplants in a single layer until golden on both sides, a few minutes per side, adding more butter if necessary. Remove onto a plate.

If the saj has dark bits in the butter, pour the old butter out, add some and heat up. If it is clean, leave as is. Arrange the chicken in the pan in one layer, and cook, turning once, for a few minutes, until only slightly golden. Gradually add the sauce to the chicken, pouring it along the sides of the saj. Cook the chicken, turning it once, until the released juices have evaporated and the oils release. Arrange tha tomatoes around the chicken and cook until they are tender, a few minutes.

Arrange the vegetables in a decorative manner around the chicken. Cover the saj and heat briefly. Uncover and serve in the saj, with bread. If you cooked the ingredients in a frying pan, arrange them decoratively on a large serving platter, except for the tomatoes— should be placed in a separate bowl along with the cooking sauce.

Nush olsun! Bon appetite!