The region where maxara (or mahara) is traditionally prepared is in the north of the country, where the climate is mostly cold. The late arrival of hot weather compared to the southern regions makes the people who live here wait with greater anxiety over the arrival of the warm season. For this reason, this product is prepared more in the spring.
Maxara is a kind of sun-shaped crepe that is cooked on a hot plate. The crepe’s main ingredients are flour, milk and eggs, these are dripped on to the hot plate that it is cooked on, thus creating edges and becoming, when cooked, similar to a sun. Each maxara has a diameter of around 20 to 30 centimetres and a thickness of approximately 0.3 centimetres. It has a peculiar taste and aroma when compared to common pancakes cooked in a pan since it is fried with fat instead of oil.
The ingredients are a litre of milk, a kilo of flour, 3 eggs, half a litre of water, 250 grams of powdered sugar and half a teaspoon of salt.
The powdered sugar is added to the beaten eggs, followed by the milk and flour. It is mixed and a pinch of salt is also added. A little bit of water is added too. The mixture is poured from a cup onto a hot plate, and it is cooked on both sides. Finally, the addition of honey makes this crepe even more delicious. If it is cooked in a normal pan it does not form fringes like on the traditional hot plate.
To make a perfect maxara it is necessary to have a certain technique, as the preparation involves considerable manual dexterity. The maxara are in fact filtered until they become a liquid form and take the shape of the sun thanks to a special dexterity in dripping the mixture onto the hot plate.
This dish belongs to the culture of the Caucasian Avars, an ethnic group living in Azerbaijan who once prepared it during the “Dawn Ceremony”. It has the shape of the sun in fact because they wanted the sun to rise after prolonged rains. It is also cooked during the holidays that mark the arrival of spring. While cooking maxara, the grandmothers sang traditional songs around the fire.
During the dawn ceremony, while the maxara was cooked in the houses, some children made a puppet with a broom on which they wrapped a scarf and sang nursery rhymes.
When it rained a lot, the girls of the village went from door to door, taking the puppet made with the broom and the scarf with them and they sang songs in unison that invited people to donate the ingredients to make maxara and therefore invoking the sun.
This spring festival took place next to a large tree that had swings attached to it. The children competed to see who could swing and hit the tree. The wives cooked maxara while the children played. Then the mullah would come and bless the arrival of spring.
The maxara is at risk of disappearing due to the rhythms of modern life, the difficulty of cooking with tools that cannot be used in modern homes, and the gradual disappearance of ceremonies such as the one called “dawn”.