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GEORGIA ON MY MIND…..

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    Posted: 30 January 2018 at 09:49

…..No, not the Georgia whose epicenter is Atlanta. Rather, the Georgia whose epicenter is a culinary tradition going back nearly 10,000 years.

No kidding! Although there have been some influences from invading forces, and adoption of new ingredients and flavors, what Georgians eat, and the way they serve it, almost by design, has remained virtually unchanged for close to ten millennia. Indeed, a case can be made that Georgia’s national identity is based on its cuisine. Despite thousands of years of constant invasion and occupation, Georgians remain Georgians. Their cuisine has much to do with that.

Even its creation myths are based on its fascination with food, and the ways it is served. For instance, one of the more popular legends tells about the first Georgians seated around a table laden with food and wine. They were so involved feasting on various dishes, drinking glass after glass of wine, and making toasts, that they missed God’s deadline for choosing a place to live, and the world was divided among peoples, with the proto-Georgians excluded. His job complete, God sets off for home, only to find the soon-to-be Georgians still feasting, and toasting, and singing.

God reproaches them, but the toastmaster isn’t concerned that they have no place to live. They have, after all, spent their time productively, thanking God, via intricate toasts, for the magnificent world he has created. Pleased that they have honored him in that way, he rewards them with the last piece of earth, the one he’d been reserving for himself.

And so it was that Georgians came to live in paradise.
As we shall see, formal dinners, such as the one in this myth, remain an integral part of Georgia’s culinary affairs.
Lying at the crossroads of the ancient spice- and silk-roads, and blessed with vast natural resources and a clement growing climate, Georgia---the meeting point of East and West---was a natural target for invaders. Greeks, and Romans, and Persians, and Mongols, and Ottomans, and Russians---and just about everyone else---swept through, time after time.

I won’t recap the eight thousand year history of these invasions. But to show how constant it was, between the sixth and nineteenth centuries, the city of Thilis, capital of eastern Georgia, was sacked 40 times.

Despite all the influences this brought, Georgia maintained its own culinary identity. As Darra Goldstein puts it, in her seminal The Georgia Feast, “…..their cooking represents more than a mélange of the flavors of other regions. Georgian cuisine stands distinct among the foods of the world, a vibrant, inspired interpretation of indigenous ingredients.”

Those who know me know there are several culinary terms than set my teeth on age. Leading the list is the word “fusion.” Too often, all that means is combining a mediocre Latin dish with Japanese or Korean ingredients, to produce something totally unnoteworthy.

“A case can be made,” I’ve said in the past, “that all cuisines are fusions. That they reflect the end result of outside influences and indigenous ingredients and methods, combining to form a unified, and evolving, whole.”

Georgian cuisine might just be the one to prove me wrong. Even when it does adapt outside influences, it does so in its own way. For example, from Persia comes the idea of mixing fruit with meat. But, whereas the Persians preferred sweeter fruits, such as prunes and apricots, Georgians, who are very big on tart flavors, opt for pomegranates and sour plums. Note, too, that the grains of choice in Georgia remain wheat and corn, over the rice that so influenced Persia’s other neighbors.

If you had to sum it up, Georgia’s cuisine can be described as walnut-centric. Walnuts are used in everything from sauces to stews. Indeed, the origins of Turkey’s iconic Circassian Chicken can be traced to Georgia, where Satsivi (turkey with walnut sauce) is, in all but name, the national dish.

The Ottoman’s, being what they were, put a romantic twist on the source of Circassian Chicken. According to the Turkish legend, the dish was brought to Turkey with the beautiful, soft-skinned women imported into the royal harems.

In fact, the dish was probably introduced as a result of the Ottoman slave trade; a much downplayed part of their rule.

Walnuts, alone, are only part of the story that makes Georgian cuisine unique. There’s a long list of ingredients rarely used in other cuisines, or non-existent outside Georgia. Among them:

     -Marigold. Sometimes called Georgian Saffron, the petals of marigold flowers are dried and ground. There is some confusion about this, among authors. One source says French Marigold, which is the common garden flower. Another says Pot Marigold, which would be calendula. Either works. I use calendula, for no other reason than I always have it on hand for medicinal purposes.

     -Summer Savory. Although used in other cuisines, I don’t know of another in which summer savory plays such an important role. It is used constantly, both as an individual ingredient and as part of special spice mixes. Both fresh and dried savory are about equally important.

     -Blue fenugreek. This is a plant found only in Georgia. Related to true fenugreek, its flavor is much milder. True fenugreek can be substituted, but in smaller amounts.

     -Khmeli-Suneli. Khmeli-Suneli is to Georgian cooking as Ras el Hanout is to Moroccan. It’s a blend of herbs and spices used in many Georgian dishes. Most housewives blend their own, varying the proportions based on the dish being prepared. Sometimes referred to as Georgian five-spice powder, that’s a misnomer, because it always contains far more ingredients than that.
     The commercial jar of it I bought on-line, for instance, contains: coriander, fenugreek, paprika, fennel, dill, parsley, marigold, savory basil, marjoram, black pepper, hyssop, and thyme.

Here is Dara Goldstein’s recipe, if you’d like to make your own:

KHMELI-SUNELI
(Georgian Spice Mix)


2 tsp ground coriander seed
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried dill weed
2 tsp dried summer savory
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 tsp ground marigold
1 bay leaf, crushed

In a mortar with a pestle, pound the spices together to a fine powder. Store airtight.

     -Svanuri Salt. Throughout Georgia, various flavored salt mixes are used. Svanuri Salt, from the mountainous region, is one that achieved national status, and is available everywhere. It, too, is essentially a blend of herbs and spices, with a salt element.

     -Dairy. Georgian has a range of products, including yogurt and various cheeses, unique to its cuisine. Unfortunately, exporting them to the U.S. and EU is illegal. There are substitutions, of course. But whether or not the dish tastes the same is open to question.
     This is particularly true about the one Georgian dish to achieve global acclaim; its famous Cheese Bread. This is made with a cheese called Suluguni. We’ll see, at the appropriate time, how to approximate it.

     -Wine. Georgia claims---and archeological evidence supports that claim---to be the oldest wine-making region in the world. Its approach to wine-making---which dates back at least 8,000 years---is unlike any other. We’ll talk about that, too, at a later time.

One other aspect of Georgian cuisine to be aware of is its dedication to fresh herbs. More than 100 edible greens are known to grow in the country, and Georgians relish all of them; not only to cook with, but for eating out of hand. On any Georgian table there will be bowls of fresh herbs that diners pick up and devour at will.

Given its iconic status, it just makes sense to introduce Georgian food with Satsivi.

SATSIVI
(Georgian Turkey in Walnut Sauce)


1 cup walnut pieces     
4-5 med garlic cloves     
½ cup packed coriander leaves     
1 dried red chili in pieces
¾ tsp salt     
1 tsp olive oil          
1 ½ cups onion, finely chopped     
1 ½ tsp flour
2 ½ cups turkey or chicken stock     
1 ½ tsp Georgia spice blend
¼ tsp turmeric     
Pinch cinnamon
1 tbls red wine vinegar     
3 cups shredded cooked turkey or chicken

For sauce: Combine the walnuts, garlic, coriander, chili, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large mortar and pound until a smooth paste has formed. Or process in a food processor to a paste. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil, and sauté the onions over medium heat, stirring constantly, until translucent and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in the flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Gradually add the stock, stirring to blend. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the walnut paste and stir to blend well. Cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the spice mix, cinnamon and turmeric. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vinegar and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.

Place the turkey in a large, shallow serving bowl. Pour the sauce over and mix well. Let stand 30 minutes before serving so flavors blend. This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds and coriander or mint leaves as desired.










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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 January 2018 at 10:25
A very nice introduction, Brook - some history, a run-down through various foodways and iconic flavor profiles, a recipe representing a treasured national dish - and a few cliffhangers, as well!

A question about the Satsivi: are turkeys a native bird to the region, or are they an example of an introduction from outside that was taken in and adapted so well to Georgia? I always think of the turkey as an American bird, but it turns up so often in other cuisines that I've decided my perception must be erroneous.

Great job, and I am looking forward to more.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 January 2018 at 11:31
Far as I know, Ron, turkey, as we think of them, are an American bird.

As with so many New World species, they were introduced to Europe in the 1500s, and were quickly assimilated into local cuisines.

Supposedly, American turkey reminded early settlers of a European bird. Mebbe so. But the only one I know of even near that large is the capacalli---a Scandinavian bird in the grouse family that can go 15-20 pounds.

If there are others I'd sure like to hear about them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 January 2018 at 11:34
OK, I did some checking. All sources identify turkey as a large, North American bird that has been domesticated throughout most of the world.
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That makes sense - they adapt very easily to various environments and probably spread to many corners.

Most of the other ingredients in Satsivi (except the red chili, from what I can see) are either native to Georgia or - in the case of many spices - have been there for so long as to consider them "indigenous enough." This makes me wonder: which came first? The chicken or the turkey? By that, I mean: was this a dish that developed long ago with chicken, and then adapted over to the turkey, or was it a dish that developed after the turkey established itself?

I don't know, and in truth it probably doesn't matter too much - just one of those threads that sometimes get picked up in research....
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Don't know which came first, Ron. Probably impossible to tell.

Satsivi is made with chicken, as well as turkey, though. So it's probably an academic question at best.

Chicken satsivi is all but indistinguishable from Circassian chicken; lending even more credence to Georgia being the origination.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2018 at 18:11
Some little thing in the back of my mind says that the American turkey was named after some other large bird from the country of Turkey because of a resemblance between the two. Have to look for an origin story there.  
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Yeah, did a quick search. The turkey was named for the Turkey bird, otherwise known as Guinea fowl. So perhaps the original recipe was Circassian Guinea. 
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Thanks, Tom.

I knew it was something like that. Just couldn't remember the details.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 February 2018 at 13:30
As I did my research, I was surprised at how much Georgian cuisine resonated with me. Not the specific dishes, so much---although they are fantastic. Of the 20 or so dishes we’ve made so far, only one was less than spectacular.

No, the reason for its appeal, I quickly realized, was that Georgian hospitality is, on many levels, similar to 18th century Virginian hospitality, which is, of course, my ultimate culinary love.

In both cases, hospitality is the watchword. In colonial Virginia, for instance, you could knock on any door, be it a plantation manner house or a ramshackle cabin in the boondocks, and be welcome for a night or a year. This was so true that all through the civilized world, in the 18th century, the words “Virginia,” and “hospitality” were synonyms.

In Georgia, throughout its history, a guest is considered to be a gift from God. Hospitality is next to Godliness, and failure to honor a guest is a serious transgression of the moral code. Indeed, a Georgian saying has it that “the sun rises on the home visited by a guest. And when the guest leaves, the sun sets on his host.”

There are great parallels, too, between Georgian and Virginian service. For starters, there are no courses, per se. Instead, the entire contents of a meal are laid out on the table. Naturally, there are subtle differences. In Virginia (indeed, all of the British world), the food was laid out on separate tables, and diners helped themselves in the manner of a buffet. In England, and upscale taverns in America, there would typically be three tables, with an average of 11 dishes each. After the first table was finished, the table would be cleared, fresh linen set, and a range of new dishes brought out.

In Virginia, two tables were more common. But there would be as many as 25 dishes on each setting, with protocols determining the types of food presented; particularly the proteins.

In Georgia, the initial table is prepared before diners sit down. This would be mostly cold- and room-temperature dishes, and service is more home style, with one notable exception. Place settings are small plates, and a diners help themselves to what amounts to tastings of anything that appeals. If more of that dish is wanted, another small serving is taken. There is no piling up of food.

Now comes the big difference between Virginia/British service and Georgian. When the host decides that everyone is ready, new dishes are brought out. The old dishes are not removed, however. Instead, the food they contain is replenished. By the time the meal is over, the table is covered with plates and serving dishes, chock-a-block to each other, and overlapping, and even piled off-set, one atop another.

The ultimate in this is the formal feast called a Supra, which can go on for hours. There is much eating, of course. But drinking is an integral part of this, too. Supras are led by a toastmaster, called a “tamada,” who guides the whole dinner.

The tamada offers numerous and intricate toasts, during the affair, each of which is accompanied by a glass of wine. But part of his responsibility is to assure there is no drunkenness, so the ability to pace the progression of the dinner, and, hence, the number and frequency of the toasts, is important.

In addition to eating and drinking, Supras include entertainment of various and sundry kinds, including musical interludes, dancing, singing, poetry recitals, and so forth.

Harken back to the creation myth discussed above, and you can see the antecedents of the Supra.

My common approach, with themed meals and primers, is to create menus that provide a broad-based look at the cuisine in question. Obviously, given the nature of Georgian service, that won’t work. Instead, I’ll be grouping dishes by type. Anyone so inclined can then pick and choose from them, and create their own Georgian feast.

I’m going to forego my usual practice of putting my sources at the end of the thread. Instead, I’ll list them here, at the beginning. Again, this is so others can use them, if desired, to gain a deeper understanding of this unique cuisine.

My actual introduction to Georgian cuisine took place several years ago, when I first obtained a copy of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s book, Flatbreads & Flavors. Among the many great recipes was one for the leek pate’ Prasi Pkhali. Pkhali (variously translated as pate’, puree, and spread), the authors point out, are a traditional vegetable dish, and indicated they appear on Georgian tables in many forms. We tried it, and really enjoyed it. And I vowed to look more deeply into them.

Life gets in the way, of course, and researching Georgian cuisine took a back seat to other projects. But it remained on my to-do list.

Flatbreads & Flavors,, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, William Morrow and Co. (an imprint of HarperCollins), New York, 1995.

In the early 1990s, Darra Goldstein published a masterful book that did for Georgian cuisine what Paula Wolfert had done for Moroccan. Sadly, at the time, it didn’t get the attention it deserved. But it remains the seminal work on “the vibrant culture and savory food of the Republic of Georgia:”

The Georgian Feast,, Darra Goldstein, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1993.

Also in the early ‘90s, Julianne Margvelashvili, a Canadian expat married to the Georgian Director of Foreign Relations, published the result of her researches into Georgian cuisine and folklore that she’d been conducting since the mid-1980s:

The Classic Cuisine of Soviet Georgia, Prentis Hall, New York, 1991.

More recently comes food journalist Carla Capalbo’s gorgeous volume about Georgia. More a travelogue with recipes than a cookbook, and lavishly illustrated, it provides insights and information I’ve not found elsewhere:

Tasting Georgia: A Food and Wine Journey in the Caucasus, Carla Capalbo, Interlink Publishing, Northampton, Ma., 2017.
In June of this year, Supra will be published. This is a book that explores the concept of Georgian feasting. I’ve used excerpts from the book in my exploration of Georgian cuisine, and hope to obtain a copy when it comes out:

Supra: A Feast of Georgian Cooking, Tiko Tuskadze, Pavilion Publishing, Hove, GB, 2018,

As usual, the web has been a treasure trove of information, and I’ve made extensive use of it.


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My knowledge is still rather sparse, but one thing that struck me is just how OLD this region is, anthropologically speaking; I find myelf wondering if Georgia, and the Caucasus region in general, is a time capsule of humanity, due to the combination of its placement in human migration and its isolation
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As noted above, my introduction to Georgian food was via the Leek Pate’ recipe found in Flatbreads & Flavors. As it turns out, vegetable pate’s are an integral part of Georgian cuisine. Several of them will be found on most Georgian tables, in fact.

Technically called “Mkhuli,” they are universally referred to by the more colloquial name “Pkhali.” And, if that isn’t confusing enough, “Pkhali” translates, variously, as “pate’,” “puree,” “Spread,” and, probably, other, similar names. For simplicity, I’ll refer to them as pate’s.

Pkhali, as a class, are single-vegetable dishes. While each of them is seasoned using herbs, spices, and aromatics that complement the specific vegetable, or which appeal to the cook’s sensibilities, they have several things in common. Walnuts, it should go without saying, are must-have ingredient, as is garlic. Coriander, in either the fresh or ground version, is almost always included as well.

I fell in love with these vegetable pate’s. They can be used as an appetizer or first course, or as a side-dish. The thinner ones can even serve as a dip. And, so far, each of the ones I’ve made has been a real winner.

Pkhali are always served cold or at room temperature.

It Georgia, every housewife keeps a walnut sauce as a staple. Called Nigozis da Nivris Ajika---or just “Ajika” for short---it contains those basic ingredients along with other seasonings that pique the cook’s fancy. The following recipes assume you don’t keep Ajika on hand, so include the component parts.

If you want to go with the sauce, instead, here’s one version, adapted from “The Classic Cuisine of Soviet Georgia:”

NIGOZIS DA NIVRIS AJIKA
(Georgian Walnut-Garlic Paste)


4 cups walnuts
6 cloves garlic
2 tbls dried coriander
4 tsp powdered marigold petals
1 tsp salt

Put the walnuts and garlic in a food processor, in stages, to ensure the ingredients are well ground. (Or use a mortar & pestle, which is how Georgian housewives would do it) Turn into a bowl and mix the dried herbs and salt into the walnut-garlic mix. Your hands are the best tool for this, by the way. Store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator.

Another version of walnut sauce, called Bazhe, can be used in the pate’s as well. Bazhe is made in very simple versions, and more complex ones as well. Considered to be a universal sauce, it is used with veggies, meats, poultry, and even fish. Here, again, the cook will vary it depending on use.

Bazhe is an actual sauce, rather than the thick condiment of Ajika. If you use it to make Pkhali it will thin it down, and you might have to adjust for that. The following is a more complex version, adapted from “Tasting Georgia:”

BAZHE
(Georgian Walnut-Garlic Sauce)


1 cup walnut halves
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 ½ tsp ground marigold petals
½ tsp ground fenugreek
Pinch red pepper flakes or ½ tsp hot paprika
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
¾ cup water

Place the walnuts, garlic and dried spices in a food processor (or pound them using a mortar and pestle). When the walnuts are evenly ground, add the remaining sauce ingredients and process to a fine sauce. If you prefer it thinner, add more water. Taste to correct seasoning and allow to rest 10-15 minutes before using.

Being as my first attempt at a Pkhali was the leek version, that’s a good place to start.

There is one problem with the recipe, as found in Flatbreads & Flavors. The instructions say to pound the leeks, along with other ingredients, in a large mortar. Even when cooked down, however, a pound of leeks is a lot, in terms of volume. I don’t know anyone with a large enough mortar to do the job.

My first attempt I used a food processor instead. This results in a very puree-like product, more of a dip than anything else. So, ever since, I hand chop the leaks, which yields a better consistency, in my opinion:

PRASI PKHALI
(Georgian Leek Pate’)


4 medium leeks (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup walnut pieces
¼ tsp salt or to taste
½ tsp toasted coriander seed
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbls finely chopped cilantro
1 tbls finely chopped parsley
1 tbls finely chopped mint
1 tbls fresh lemon juice

Quarter leeks lengthwise, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices, rinse well in cold water. Put several inches of water in a heavy saucepan, add the leeks cover, bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook until leeks are tender, about 10 minutes.

In a large mortar, pound or grind the walnuts, salt, coriander seed, garlic, and red pepper to a paste. Add the leeks, fresh herbs, and lemon juice and pound to blend well. If mixture seems dry and crumbly, blend in 1-2 tablespoons of the leek cooking water.

Transfer to a small, lightly oiled bowl, and pack in well. Refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight, well covered with plastic wrap, and let firm up. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

My younger son, who is visiting us, raved about this next Pkhali. What makes that special is that he otherwise will not eat beets in any shape or form. “They taste like dirt,” he insists. But that should give you a clue how really tasty this dish is.

You can boil the beets, if you like. But both the flavor and texture is truly better if you roast them:

CHARKHLIS PKHALI
(Georgian Beet Pate’)


1 lb beets
½ cup walnuts
3 garlic cloves     
½ tsp salt
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped parsley
Black pepper to taste
¼ tsp dried summer savory
¼ tsp ground coriander seed
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar

Bake the unpeeled beets at 375F for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until tender. While the beets are cooking, grind together the walnuts, garlic, and salt. Add the cilantro and parsley and continue grinding to make a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl.

Peel the cooked beets and finely grate them in a food processor or by hand. In a medium bowl, mix together the beets and walnut mixture, then stir in the rest of ingredients, tasting often, as the amount of vinegar will depend on the sweetness of the beets. The pate’ should be slightly tart.

Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours, but bring to room temperature before serving, mounded on a plate and cross-hatched on top with a knife.

MITSVANE LOBIOS MKHALI
(Georgian Green Bean Pate’)


1 lb green beans
½ cup walnuts
2 garlic cloves
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tbls chopped fresh dill
1 tbls red wine vinegar

Trim the beans and cook them in boiling water until very soft. Drain.

Grind the walnuts in a food processor. Briefly process them with the garlic and herbs. Add the beans and process to make a thick puree. Stir in the vinegar and cool to room temperature before serving.

Both the beet and green bean versions will be denser than the leek one; more like a mash in texture. But still not what I would call a pate’. This next one however, is as close to being a pate’ as you can get:

ISPANAKHI PKHALI
(Georgian Spinach Pate’)


2 lbs spinach, washed
¾ cup walnuts
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
Small onion, finely chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped fine
Salt and vinegar to taste
½ tsp hot paprika (optional)
Pomegranate seeds

Put spinach in a large pot, pour in 3-4 cups boiling water, cover tightly, and boil 3-4 minutes until leaves are wilted and stems tender. Drain, cool, and gently squeeze out the water. Put the walnuts, garlic and coriander into a food processor and grind to a fine paste.

Place the spinach on a cutting board and finely chop it. Put it into a mixing bowl with the onion, cilantro and walnut paste. Blend the ingredients together, using your fingertips. Add salt, vinegar and paprika if desired.

Let stand at room temperature for an hour, then refrigerate in a covered container. Serve on an 8-inch plate, flattened into a thick pancake. Crosshatch evenly to create a grid design, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving.

Georgians really love their greens, and there are many variations of this Pkhali---including those made with beet greens, radish greens, and even cauliflower leaves. Contrary to the directions in this recipe, most of the time greens are first washed, then cooked only in the water left adhering to the leaves.






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2018 at 16:03
Brook - these all look great, and that walnut-garlic paste would have to knock anything out of the park. I've worked with a hazelnut-garlic sauce before, and this would have to be even better, I am guessing.

Question - do you see any similarity at all between these pates and Ikra, which is more associated with Russia, Ukraine and some of the countries heading down into the Balkans?

To clarify, there are two kinds of "Ikra" that I know about - one is related to caviar, but the other is made from eggplant (or sometimes other vegetables) as a sort of "poor man's caviar."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2018 at 06:12
Although some of them include aromatics, the hallmark of Pkhali is that they are each based on a single veggie.

Ikra recipes I've seen include aromatics and other vegetables in addition to the eggplant. So, while Ikra fits the general category of vegetable pate', I don't believe there is any direct culinary connection.

There is, however, a similar Turkish dish that varies only in the veggies that support the eggplant.

Just another case where the Georgians did it their way, despite the closeness of their neighbors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2018 at 10:20
I really need to set aside some time to read this thread, I've only had time to skim it a little and it seems very interesting to me. this is more of a note for myself than anythign I guess. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 February 2018 at 09:08
Only reason I'm writing it, Mike, is to give you something to do with the Khmeli-Suneli and Svanuri Salt I'd sent ya.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 February 2018 at 09:18
>>>Khmeli-Suneli and Svanuri Salt<<<

I haven't yet tried mine with any cooking, as I am saving them for a project that I have in mind; however, both smell absolutely amazing, not quite like anything I've ever encountered!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 February 2018 at 11:03
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Only reason I'm writing it, Mike, is to give you something to do with the Khmeli-Suneli and Svanuri Salt I'd sent ya.


I know, and not being able to is killing me! I have some free time this morning.. going to start reading now. Smile

edit: ok, read the thread. Outstanding Brook.  If I can get to the store and pick up the couple items needed I might give the SATSIVI a go!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 February 2018 at 05:15
If there’s one thing iconic to the Georgian table, it would be the filled dumplings called Khinkali.

Khinkali are generally believed to have been introduced to the mountainous regions of Georgia by the Mongols. This, in turn, raises an interesting question, though, as to the direction of travel. Meat-filled Khinkali produce a broth as they are cooked, very reminiscent of the Chinese soup dumplings. Some scholars believe, however, that they actually originated in Georgia, and were carried to China by the Mongols. This is a question, though, that probably can never be answered.

Most cultures have at least one filled dumpling as part of its cuisine. As with all things culinarian, Georgia has its own slant on them.

Khinkali start with a simple dough, which seems to be pretty universal. A spoonful of the filling---which can be meat, potato, cheese, greens, or a combination of them---is put in the center of a ring of dough, and the sides are brought up in a series of pleats, culminating with a twist that seals them, similar to a beggar’s purse, and creates a topknot.

Georgian grandmothers insist that anything fewer than 20 pleats is the sign of a beginner. Now, then, 20 pleats in a circle of dough measuring four inches sounds like a lot. But there is a fast learning curve. By the second batch, Friend Wife was up to 17 pleats. So forming the dumplings isn’t as difficult as it first seems.

Khinkali are rarely served with a sauce. Instead, they are laid out on a serving platter, sprinkled liberally with black pepper, and served. Diners pick up a dumpling by the topknot, invert it like a mushroom, and bite into the actually purse; sucking out any broth before eating the balance. The topknots usually are discarded, or fed to the dogs the way Southerners are said to have used hushpuppies. I have found no information as to why the topknots aren’t eaten.

There is at least one exception to the no-sauce rule. In southern Georgia they make smaller khinkali, filled with potato, cheese, or a combination of them, and top them with onions caramelized in butter.

If all of this sounds like Manti there’s good reason for it. Both Manti and Khinkali originated in the Caucasus Mountains, and are, likely, variations on the theme.

The procedure for making khinkali is the same, no matter where they are found. For “standard” sized dumplings, the dough is rolled out to about ¼-inch thickness. Circles about 2 ½ inches in diameter are cut from the dough (a cookie cutter works perfectly for this). Each circle is then rolled out to a diameter of about four inches.

Note: Most regular rolling pins are too big for this, and are awkward to use. For Friend Wife, I cut an eight-inch section of one-inch dowel rod, and it works perfectly.

If shaping khinkali is a bit much for you, there is a variation called Pelmeni. For these, circles of dough measuring 2 ½-3 inches are cut. A teaspoon or so of filling is laid on one half of the circle, which is then folded over. The edges are moistened and pressed together to seal these crescent-shaped dumplings. Pelmeni are often served with sour cream.

To cook either khinkali or pelmeni, bring a large pot of salted water to boil with two bay leaves. Add the dumplings, stirring gently to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook until they float to the surface and transfer to a serving platter. With most recipes, you’ll probably have to do this in batches.

Here’s the recipe for the universal khinkali dough:

KHINKALI DOUGH

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg at room temperature
½ cup water

Mix ingredients together to form a ball, adding more flour or water as necessary. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 4-5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover while you make the filling.

Follow directions above to shape the khinkali or pelmeni.

Filling recipes abound throughout Georgia. Here are a few of them. But feel free to vary them at will, maintaining the spirit of the idea. For instance, although one of these recipes calls for a mixture of lamb and pork, we’ve made it with just lamb. And loved it. Due to lamb’s lack of fat, however, it doesn’t form the broth of a soup dumpling:

BASIC MEAT FILLING

1 lb mixed ground beef and pork (not too lean---you want it to produce broth as it cooks)
½ tsp black pepper
1 ¼ tsp salt
Pinch cayenne
¼ tsp ground caraway seed
½ cup water or beef stock
3 small onions, minced
Mix the meats and spices. Stir in the onions. Working with your hands (which are the best tools for this) knead in the liquid.

COMPLEX MEAT FILLING

3 ½ oz ground beef
3 ½ oz ground pork
1/3 cup minced onion
2 tbls minced cilantro
1/4 tsp minced medium-hot chili (or sub red pepper flakes)
2 tbls butter, melted
½ cup water or meat broth
Black pepper to taste
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp ground summer savory
¼ tsp crushed coriander seeds
¼ tsp crushed caraway seeds
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, using your fingers to assure they are well blended and the meat evenly broken up.

LAMB FILLING

¾ lb ground lamb
¾ lb ground pork
3 small onions, minced
½ cup water
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all the ingredients and let stand while making the dough.

CHEESE FILLING

1 pound farmers cheese
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground dried savory
Black pepper to taste
2 room temperature eggs, beaten

Press the cheese through a sieve into a bowl. Beat in the salt, savory, pepper, and eggs, mixing well.

POTATO & CHEESE FILLING

8 ounce boiled potato, skin on
2 tbls butter
1 cup grated cheddar
½ tsp salt

Once it’s cool enough to handle, peel the potato. Grate it coarsely using a hand-held grater. Stir in the remaining ingredients, being careful to not compact the mixture too much. If using cold potato, melt the butter first.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 February 2018 at 10:23
I really like the sound of these dumplings, Brook - any of those fillings, and more, would be welcome at my table.

>>>In southern Georgia they make smaller khinkali, filled with potato, cheese, or a combination of them, and top them with onions caramelized in butter.<<<

I'm not sure if there is a connection or not, but this is exactly what is done with potato-and-cheese filled pierogi. I learned this from a friend whose wife was half-Russian and half Polish, and they were very good this way:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/topic1946_post12189.html

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