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GEORGIA ON MY MIND…..

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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 11:59
My very first thought, when reading about pelni, was their resemblance to pierogi.

That part of the world is surrounded with similar dumplings, so it might just be a natural offshoot. Besides which, they're a lot easier to shape than khinkali.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 February 2018 at 16:03

Georgia, Far Eastern Europe,  if not mistaken is not very far from the Ancient Spice Route and may have been a part of it ( have to research this )  and not too far from  the countries of  Turkey and Greece, revealed by the spices employed in several of the dishes above  ..

A fascinating group of récipes and shall definitely prepare one  the chicken dishes ..

Thank you so much for posting this gold mine of gastronomic  wonders ..  



 


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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 18:57
Margi,

Georgia is located at the crossroads of the old Spice- and Silk-Roads. Which is one of the primary reasons for the constant invasions and occupations.

About half the size of Georgia, in the U.S., it is framed by the Black and Caspian Seas, and surrounded by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaidzhan.

The ancient Greeks knew it as Cochis, the site of the Jason & the Golden Fleece tales, which are based on fact, as they used to actually strain gold from the streams by suspending sheep fleeces.

It's also the location where Prometheus gifted mankind with fire. One result of which is that Georgians were, and remain, fond of grilled foods.

Georgia claims to be (and archeological evidence supports the claim) the oldest wine making region in the world.





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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 19:04
Update on source material:

Since starting this thread, Ron (thanks, again, my friend) sent me a copy of the Foods of the World volume on Russian Cooking. There are some great insights in the Georgian and Caucasus sections, though the recipes, as is so true of that series, are on the questionable side.
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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 19:06
Margi: Hold off a bit on the chicken. Although Satsivi is certainly a great dish, Georgians do all sorts of wonderful things with poultry, and I'll be posted several chicken recipes as we continue.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 February 2018 at 10:23
There’s one more iconic Georgian flavoring that I haven’t discussed: Tkemali, which is a sour plum sauce used in numerous dishes throughout the country.

Not the sort of thing you’re likely to find in your neighborhood grocery, Tkemali is available on-line. But it tends to be pricy, to begin with. And the shipping is almost as much as the product itself.

A little research reveals recipes for making your own. But, because the sour plums used in Georgia are not available, they usually start by saying, take X amount of under-ripe plums, preferably Y variety.” Uh, huh! Even during the season, what are the odds of you finding under-ripe plums in your market? And how would you tell?

Then comes the Foods of the World volume on Russian Cooking (thanks, again, Ron). As many of you know, I am not, in general, a fan of FotW recipes. They tend to be dated, to say the least, and often use substitutions that were far from accurate and no longer necessary. Even worse, they totally substitute one thing for another in the interests of Americanizing the flavors, or because the writer didn’t truly understand the dish, or just because the author liked it that way.

Tkemali is an example of the kinds of errors that can creep in. In the text, author George Papashvily does, indeed, discuss Tkemali as a sour plum sauce. However, in the recipes, he calls it “sour prune sauce,” which could be a totally different thing.

Now, then, there are prunes and there are prunes. To his everlasting credit, Papashvily specifies sour prunes in the ingredients list. Still not something you’ll find on everyday grocery shelves. But, they are available in Mid-Eastern and Asian markets (sometimes called “Turkish prunes”) and on line. Reconstituting them, in the manner he suggests, produces a sauce as close to true Tkemali as you’re likely to get.

So, I stand corrected. At least in this case.

Here’s the recipe and instructions:

TKEMALI
(Georgian Sour Plum Sauce)


2 cups water
½ lb sour prunes
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tbls cilantro, minced
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 tbls strained fresh lemon juice

Bring the water to boil in a 1-quart saucepan and drop in the prunes. Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes. Bring back to boil over high heat and cook briskly, uncovered, 10-15 minutes, or until prunes are tender. Pour contents into a sieve set over a bowl and set liquid aside.

Cut out and discard prune pits and combine the prunes, garlic, and cilantro in a blender. Pour in ¼ cup of the prune liquid. The blended sauce should have the consistency of sour cream.

Transfer sauce to a 1 ½ -2 quart saucepan and stir in the salt and pepper. Bring to boil over high heat, then, off the heat, stir in the lemon juice.

Cool to room temperature.

Notes: If you haven’t worked with them before, be aware that sour prunes can have multiple pits. I found that out, to my dismay, the first time I used them in a tajine. So make sure you remove all of them.

I have to wonder if Mr. Papashvily likes washing dishes. This recipe makes about 1 ½ cups, and there is no reason I can see to dirty two different saucepans. Similarly, you can just scoop the poached prunes out of the pan with a slotted spoon and not have to dirty a sieve (which are always the hardest things to clean, anyway).

Given the time the book was written, I can understand why he says to mince the cilantro first. Blenders, back then, tended to be slow, and not powerful enough to handle certain items. If you have a more modern, high-speed blender---like, say, a Vitamix---pre-chopping isn’t necessary. But it certainly doesn’t hurt.

It’s said that Tkemali will keep for months in the fridge. But, frankly, it probably won’t last near that long, once you taste it.

Here is one way Tkemali is used in Georgian cuisine:

LOBIO TKEMALI
(Georgian Kidney Beans with Plum Sauce)


½ lb dried kidney beans
½ tsp salt
½ cup tkemali
Salt
Black Pepper
Cilantro

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover. The next day, drain and rinse them. Place in a large pot and cover with fresh water. Add ½ tsp salt. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the beans are tender, 60-90 minutes. Drain. While the beans are still warm, mash them. Stir in the tkemali and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature, garnished with cilantro.

Tkemali is also the sauce most often used with Tabaka, the classic Georgian flattened chicken dish, similar to our bricked chicken; with root veggies, like beets; in stews like chakapuli; and even to baste kebabs.

Putting Georgian cuisine aside, I’m looking forward to using it on my next batch of pork ribs. It’s that good!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 February 2018 at 05:14
Bread is truly the staff of life in Georgia. There are, literally, dozens of shapes, sizes, and types found there. Many of them, in fact, are unique to a particular village, and are found nowhere else.

There is a reverence for bread, in Georgia, I’ve not uncovered anywhere else. So much so that the grain, itself, is handled in specific ways. In the rural mountains, for instance, wheat is kept in a special chest, which only the eldest woman in the family is allowed to open. Old-timers often add a lump of charcoal to the chest, to repel the devil.

Georgian breads run the gamut of crust & crumb, ranging from crisp, unleavened lavash-like forms, to sweet breads loaded with butter and eggs. And, while wheat is the primary grain used, there are areas, particularly in western Georgia, where corn all but displaces it.

Traditionally, bread was baked two ways in Georgia. Most common is a Tone’, a conical oven very reminiscent of the Indian tandoor oven. The two work the same way, using intense heat. Loaves are slapped on the sidewalls, where they bake in a matter of seconds, not unlike naan. However, given the nature of the dough, and the way it is put in the oven, the Georgian version tends to be elongated and blade shaped, and is, for that reason, known as Baton or Saber bread.

Long thought to be impossible to reproduce in a modern home oven, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have developed a method of doing so, which we’ll explore later on.

The second baking method was to use a Ketsi. This is a shallow clay plate, and was used to bake the bread in the coals of an open fire. Many times the ketsi would be stacked, one atop the other, to make more than one loaf at a time. I have not found a source of ketsi in the U.S. However, the terra-cotta drip plates that go under flower pots make a good substitute.

Breads baked in ketsi, over a bed of coals, take on a smoky flavor, much favored. A ketsi can be used on the stove top just as easily, and will produce a great bread, albeit without that slightly smoky flavor. It’s sort of like the difference in Baba-Ghannouj when the eggplant is cooked over coals instead of in the oven

Georgians are very fond of stuffed breads. Their globally-famous cheese bread is the best known of these. But breads are filled with all sorts of ingredients before baking, including meats, potatoes, beans, and even greens.

The dough recipes used, the flavorings of the fillings, if being used, and even the shape of the loaf, provide an endless variety of breads. Even breads with the same name are often made from different doughs. Let’s look at a few of them:

DEDA’S PURI
(Georgian Mother’s Dough)


Day in and day out, this is the bread made my Georgian housewives, and is often referred to as “everyday” bread. Although this recipe calls for baking in the oven, Deda’s Puri lends itself especially well to cooking in a ketsi on the stove top or over coals. Note the name change when the shape is changed.

¼ tsp sugar     
1 env (1 tbls) active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (100F)     
¾ cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt     
2 ¾ cup unbleached flour
Oil

Dissolve first the sugar then the yeast, in a small bowl containing the warm water. Let stand in a warm place for approximately 10 minutes, or until the mixture bubbles and doubles in volume. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the lukewarm water, salt, and flour. Mix well until a dough is formed. Turn onto a floured board and knead for 10-15 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Warm and lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat the entire surface with oil. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let stand in a warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Punch down the dough and shape whichever way you prefer.

For deda’s puri, divide the dough into two equal portions and roll each into a ball. With floured hands, gently past the first dough ball until it has flattened in a ¼-1/2 inch thick circle. Place it on a nonstick or slightly greased baking sheet ad with your index finger make a hole ½ inch in diameter through the center of the dough. This acts as an air vent, and prevents the dough from puffing up in the center while cooking. Repeat this process with the second ball of dough. Place the bread in the upper third of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until very pale gold in color.

For shoti’s puri, shape dough into ovals with molded handles on each end

NAZUKI
(Georgian Spice Bread)


Versions of this bread are found throughout the Caucasus and the Mid-East. It’s said that the addition of ground coriander is what makes it Georgian.

¼ cup milk     
1 pkg (1 tbls) active dry yeast
Pinch sugar     
2 eggs well beaten
1 stick butter, melted & cooled     
¼ cup sugar
Generous ½ tsp salt     
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves     
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp vanilla extract     
2 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 egg yolk, beaten

Heat milk to lukewarm (105F). Stir in the yeast and pinch of sugar. Leave to proof 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to foam. Stir in the eggs, melted butter, sugar, salt, spices, and vanilla extract. Add enough of the flour to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 ½-2 hours.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out into a 6-inch oval about ½ inch thick. Place the loaves on a greased baking sheet and leave to rise covered, for ½ hour.

Preheat oven to 375F.

With your thumb, make indentations in dough in decorative rows. Brush the loaves with beaten egg yolk. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden.

PYSHKI
(Georgian Sage and Mint Fritters)


This is an interesting take on fried bread. Although translated as fritters, pyshki more resemble hush puppies. Except I’ve never had a hush puppy as light, airy, and flavorful as these.

1 ½ tsp active dry yeast     
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
Sm onion, finely chopped     
2 tbls butter
1 tbls minced fresh sage     
1 tbls minced fresh mint
2+ cups unbleached white flour     
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of the water. Cover and leave to proof for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté the chopped onion in the butter until golden. Set aside to cool slightly.

When the yeast is bubbly, slowly add the remaining lukewarm water. Stir in the minced herbs and enough flour to make a loose batter (waffle batter like). Stir in the onions. Cover the batter and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes, until light but not quite doubled in bulk.

In a large skillet, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil (375F) Drop the batter by generous tablespoonsful into the hot oil. Do not use more batter, or the fritters will be heavy. Cook the fritters over high heat until puffed and brown, turning once, 2 ½-3 minutes per side.

MCHADI
(Georgian Corn Cakes)


Although originating in western Georgia, mchadi are popular throughout the country. Caution: They are not like any other cornbread you’ve had. Mchadi are dry and bland, making them ideal for sopping up gravies and the like. Most Americans would not care to eat them out of hand, however.

Ideally, mchadi are cooked in a ketsi or cast-iron skillet.


1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (preferably white)
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup cold water

Mix all the ingredients together to make a sticky dough. Form into 6 oval patties.

Preheat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. When the skillet is hot, place the cornmeal cakes in it. Cover and cook over low heat for 8 minutes, turn, and cook for 8-10 minutes more. Best served hot.

EMERULI CHACHAPURI
(Georgian Cheese Bread)


As indicated above, there are numerous forms of this iconic Georgian bread. Making any of them at home, however, presents a problem. Georgian dairy products are proscribed from being imported into the U.S. and EU. So you can’t make them using the actual cheeses of Georgia. So, unless you visit that country, there’s no way of knowing what the breads actually taste like.

There are numerous recipes, however, that claim to replicate the flavors of those cheeses. Or at least come close. Mozzarella and feta, in various proportions, are the most common adaptation. But there are others, as well, some of them far removed from those flavors. The one below is my own mix, based on several of those recipes. The recipe makes enough for two loaves.


Dough:     
1 cup live culture yogurt     
2 tbls sunflower oil
1 tsp baking soda     
Heavy pinch salt
2-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Filling:     
6 oz mozzarella, grated     
6 oz feta, crumbled
4 oz muenster, grated     
1 egg
Egg wash for brushing dough


Preheat oven to 400F. Mix the yogurt, oil, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the 2 cups of flour, mix well, and knead for 6-8 minutes to promote elasticity of the dough. Work in extra flour if the dough is a bit sticky. Depending on how moist the yogurt was, this could take all of the third cup. Let the dough rest while preparing the filling.

Beat the egg lightly, and mix with the grated cheeses. Divide dough in half. Put one half of the dough on a floured surface and roll it into a circle 12-14 inches round by ¼ inch thick. Put ½ the cheese mixture on top of the dough and spread to within 2 inches of the edge. Pick up the edges of the dough and gather them together like a drawstring bag. Press out all of the air, then pinch and seal the edges together. Pat the surface with floured hands and gently flip the khachapuri over, sealed side down, onto a nonstick baking sheet. Glaze the top with the reserved egg and make a small ½-inch hole in the center to allow heat and steam to escape during baking.

Place in the upper third of the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, cut into wedges or slices, with tkemali, as an appetizer or as a snack.

Note: Some cheese may ooze out of the steam vent. Don’t worry about it, as this is normal.

OTHER KHACHAPUR FILLINGS
(Georgian Cheese Bread Mixtures)


1 lb English Lancashire, grated, or ½ pound English Lanchashire and ½ pound Monterey Jack, grated.

2 ounces each grated cheddar, Emmental (or other Swiss), mozzarella, and cottage cheese.

8-10 ounces each Muenster and Harvati cheese, grated.

1 lb Muenster, grated, and ½ pound pot cheese.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 February 2018 at 09:35
I had a big, long, comprehensive reply typed out, and then somehow managed to lose it all; here is the abbreviated version:

Tkemali looks outstanding, for a lot of things; would also like to try it on barbecue, for sure. Do you sense origins that might have originated even farther east (toward China), or is this more likely just a natural consequence of the ingredients and food traditions in Georgia?

Lobio Tkemali would never have occurred to me (beans and plums), but putting the flavours together in my head, it sounds good. Any thoughts on using wild plums (ripe or not) in this, or is the "sour prune" concept probably the best substitute in lieu of actually being there?

Breads! All sound delicious, would like to try them all - can't even pick a favourite. For the Mchadi, is any greasing necessary or desired, or do they go straight down in the cast-iron pan? Do you see any role for Provolone in the Emeruli Chacapri? Did the Georgian yoghurt work well with it?

Wonderful work again, Brook - I might see if I can find a few photos of the various breads, to illustrate some points regarding the different shapes. If you can send a list sometime of these and others, I'll get to work on that.
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Stand by, Ron. I’m not done with the breads. There’s a whole nuther installment coming up.

Tkemali: Given what I know, I’m confident it’s a purely Georgian thing. Plum sauces elsewhere tend to be either very sweet, or on the hot side. The tartness of this certainly fits in with Georgian flavor profiles. Interestingly, on-line suppliers list three different colors. None of my cooking resources remark on color at all.

Wild plums would be ideal. In fact, that’s what they use in Georgia. It’s a particular variety that grows wild all over the place. If you forage wild plums, I’d check some other recipes, rather than the one I posted. Keep in mind that, with the prunes, we’re reconsitituting them. So, if nothing else, the cook time on plums is likely to be shorter.

I’d made a version of cheese bread this morning, which we ate with tkemali, as suggested in one of my resources, and it was delicious.

I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. The mchadi specifically goes into a dry pan. No grease is used. But I wouldn’t try that in anything but a well-cured cast-iron skillet.

I did use the matsoni in the Emeruli Khachapuri, and it worked perfectly. But any live-culture yogurt would do as well. Yogurt effects the dough two ways; as a contributor to leavening, and as a tenderizer.
Because of the heavy whey content (even after draining) I had to use considerably more flour than called for. But the bread turned out perfect.
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Not to go too overboard with the subject of bread, I want to discuss a few more stuffed versions, just to give you an idea of the possibilities.

While any of the yeast doughs work for most of these, they show, too, the diversity of doughs that are created. Feel free to substitute at any time.

ADJARAN KHACHAPURI
Adjura Style Cheese Bread


Arguably the most popular, and certainly the most dramatic, this open-faced cheese bread originated in the Autonomous Republic of Adjura---one of two (and a possible third) such regions in Georgia. Have your guests seated, because you want to serve this right out of the oven.

Deda’s Puri works just fine for these. But there’s a variation that works a little better, so I’ve included it.


For the dough:

1 4/5 cup (8 oz) unbleached yeast flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
¾ tsp salt
½ cup + 2 tbls warm water
1 tbls sunflower oil

Filling for each khachapuri:

8 oz mixed cheeses (example: 2 ounces each of grated cheddar, Emmental or other Swiss cheese, mozzarella, and cottage cheese)
Black pepper to taste

1 egg
1 tbls butter, softened

Make the dough: Combine all the dry ingredients. Add the warm water and mix until they combine together in a ball. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead 5-7 minutes, adding more flour or water as needed. Dough should be slightly on the sticky side.

Form dough into a ball and put in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover bowl and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 90-115 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Punch down dough, knead again for one minute, then separate into 8 equally sized pieces. Form each into a ball.

Roll a ball into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture evenly along the top and bottom edges of the dough, and roll them towards the middle to form a boat-shape with pointed ends. If necessary, pinch the dough to keep it from unfolding.

Spread the balance of the cheese mixture inside the boat. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and dough is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Gently slide a raw egg into the center of the boat, and pop it back in the oven another 2-3 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk still runny. Top each egg with butter. Serve immediately.

To eat, diners break off the “handles” and pieces of the thick crust and use them to swirl the egg into the hot cheese. The residual heat from the cheese completes the cooking.

LOBIANI
(Georgian Bean Bread)


Georgia has had a significant Jewish population for more than 2,600 years. This filled bread originated with them, but is so ubiquitous now that its origins are not even known by most Georgians. This same bread, filled with a mixture of potatoes and onions, is also of Jewish beginnings. Either of them is perfect, right now, during the Lenten season.

1 recipe Emeruli Khachapuri dough (see above)
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 ½ cups cooked small red beans
Salt & pepper to taste

Prepare the dough. Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the beans, and fry them 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. Season with salt and pepper.

Proceed as for Emerali Khachapuri, substituting the beans for the cheese mixture.

HI-RISE KHACHAPURI
(Variation on a theme)


Not so much a recipe as an approach, this technique for shaping khachapuri makes a very dramatic presentation. And it provides still another approach to Georgian bread dough

The original recipe was used with a cheese filling. But any of the fillings work, with potatoes & onions particularly suitable.


For the dough:

2 tbls active dry yeast
½ tsp plus 1 tbls sugar
1 cup lukewarm milk
3 ½-4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
8 tbls (1 stick) butter, softened

Sprinkle the yeast and ½ tsp sugar over ½ cup of the milk in a small bowl. Set aside for 2-3 minutes, then stir until the yeast is thoroughly dissolved. Let proof 5-8 minutes until mixture is bubbly and has doubled in volume.

Put 3 cups of the flour in a large bowl and make a deep well in the center. Add the remaining milk, the yeast mixture, remaining sugar, the salt, and the softened butter. Stir the flour into the mixture, then beat well until smooth. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured work surface.

Knead the dough ten minutes, adding more flour as you go along to keep it from sticking to the surface. When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare whichever filling you’ll be using.

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly oil or butter a 9-inch layer cake pan.

Punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out into a circle about 22 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to the pan, centering it and pressing in to assure contact with the sidewalls. Add the filling to the pan, mounding it. Bring the overhanging dough up and over the filling, pleating it as evenly as possible. Pinch and twist the topknot. Visually, you will have created a giant khinkali. Let the bread rest 10-15 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Bake until golden brown, about an hour.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool a bit before serving.

Speaking of variations on a theme, khachapuri is often made in the form of tartlets. To do that, roll out the dough until it’s a little less than ¼ inch thick. Then use a 4 ½” cookie cutter to punch out circles. Put two tablespoons of the filling on the circle and shape it into a diamond shape. Then roll the edges of the dough up over the edge of the filling, following the diamond shape. Perfect the “diamond” by pinching the four corners to a sharp point.

Arrange the tartlets on a baking pan, and bake at 375F until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

These tartlets are so popular in Georgia that they are sold as street food.

FIDJIN
(Georgian Meat Pie)


Fidjin is a specialty of the mountain region of Ossetia. I’m including it because it’s delicious, and demonstrates the diversity of filled breads. Although the translation says “pie,” I believe that’s only because there is a top and bottom crust.

1 ½ lbs lamb in small pieces (try a ¼” dice---or even ground lamb)     
Lamb fat
2 garlic cloves, crushed     
½ cup parsley, chopped fine
Salt & pepper to taste     
1 recipe deda’s puri
Oil for greasing pan     
Butter for glazing

Brown the lamb in lamb fat. Add the garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well and let stand while preparing the pastry. Prepare the deda’s puri dough (see card)

Preheat oven to 400F. Divide the dough into (2) portions. Roll one in a circle to cover the bottom of a greased 9-inch round spring form, cake, or tart pan. Spread the filling to within ½ inch of the outer edge. Roll out the second ball of dough as a cover for the pie. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water, then lay the second circle of dough over the meat filling and gently press the edges together. Cut a 1-inch cross in the center and fold back the 4 corners to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Place in the oven for 5 minutes, brush the top with butter, then reduce the heat to 375F and continue baking for 15-20 minutes more. The fidjin will be golden brown and can be glazed with melted butter when removed from the oven.









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I promised we’d discuss Baton or Saber bread, both because of its place in Georgian cuisine, and the fact that the Alford/Duguid team developed a way of making it in the home oven.

As with Pita, making Baton bread is a complex, time-consuming process. The first time you attempt it the time will stretch even further. Only you can decide whether it’s worth the effort.

The Alford/Duguid team add whole wheat flour to practically all their flatbread recipes. I like that approach, because it gives the breads a deeper, more interesting flavor. If you want to be true to the Georgian recipe, however, substitute all-purpose flour.

Here is their method, as presented in Fine Cooking magazine:

SHOTIS PURI
(Georgian Baton Bread)


1 tsp active dry yeast
2 ½ cups lukewarm water (about 100F)
5 oz (1 cup) whole wheat flour
24 oz (5 1/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more or less as needed
1 tbls coarse salt

To make the dough: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the whole wheat flour and about 2 cups of the all-purpose flour. Stir in the same direction until smooth and then stir another 1 minute. Cover the bowl with plastic; set in a cool place for at least 10 minutes or up to 3 hours.

Stir in the salt. Gradually add 2-3 cups flour, mixing the dough until it’s too stiff to stir. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Wash, dry, and lightly oil the bowl. Knead the dough, letting it absorb as much flour as needed (by keeping the work surface dusted, until it’s smooth and elastic but still a little tacky, 10-15 minutes.

Put the dough in the bowl, cover well with plastic, and let rise in a cool place for 8 hours or overnight. If you’re not ready to bake yet, punch down the dough, put in in a plastic bag, and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

To shape and bake: About 1 ¼ hours before you want to serve the breads, set an oven rack to a middle or lower middle rung. But a large baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles on it, leaving a 1-inch gap around the border.* Heat the oven to 475F. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover them, and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Cut one ball in half (leave the other balls covered) and turn the cut surfaces down. Flatten each half with your lightly floured pal to a 6x4-inch oval. Cover loosely. Half and flatten the remaining pieces the same way. Let the ovals rest, covered, for 10 minutes so they’re easier to shape.

Dust a rimless baking sheet or peel lightly with flour. Working with one oval at a time, pull gently on opposite ends to begin to make wings of batons. Transfer the dough to the baking stone, keeping it on one side if possible, and stretch another oval and bake it alongside the first.

Bake the breads until their tops are lightly touched with color and the bottoms have a golden crust, 5-7 minutes. Remove them with a peel or long-handled spatula and transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Wrap them in a cotton cloth to keep them soft and warm, and repeat with the remaining 6 ovals.

*(HistoricFoodie note:) Lining an oven with baking stones is not unusual for serious bread bakers. As an alternative, preheat an inverted sheet pan, and, at the appropriate time, transfer the dough to it.

This completes our section on Georgian breads. Next time we’ll get back to cooking.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 February 2018 at 08:35
Excellent, Brook - thanks for posting this ~

All of these breads sound incredible, and I've seen photos of a few. I notice that some cultures (including Georgia, from what I can see) take particular interest in the shape of many breads. Naturally, much of this is due to necessity or utility; however, quite a few also seem to have another purpose - whether decorative, traditional or just whimsical, I do not know.

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As is not unusual among mountain peoples, Georgians love soup; hot or cold, hearty or light, they are likely to convert any ingredients on hand into a soup. More than one authority has pointed out that soups (and, their thicker version, stews) are the oldest and most traditional of Georgian dishes.

Traditions and rituals around soup abound. My favorite: At a wedding feast a particular soup is served, made with a blade-roast of beef. After the soup is served the blade bone is carefully cleaned and dried, and all the wedding guests sign it.

One of the more special, and, to me, unexpected, main soup ingredients is yogurt. Even within the limited resources I’ve been using there are at least a dozen variations of yogurt soup. True, other Caucasus regions have yogurt soup---Turkey and Armenia come immediately to mind---but not in such diversity.

Hot yogurt soup might sound a little strange, at first. But it’s really very good, with surprising nuances of flavor. Here, for instance, is a basic yogurt soup:

MATSUNIS SHECHAMANDI
(Georgian Yogurt Soup)


2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups yogurt
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Put the stock in a medium pot, bring to boil, then reduce heat immediately.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion until transparent. Add to the stock. Remove from heat and let cool for several minutes, then gradually stir in the yogurt. Caution: If stock is too hot, yogurt will curdle.

Add salt, garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.

This soup is sometimes made more hearty by sautéing ½ cup sliced mushrooms and 2 finely chopped shallots. Stir in 2 tablespoons dry white wine and a dash of hot paprika, then proceeding with the recipe. This version is often garnished with thinly sliced pimiento strips.

Under the same name, I found a slightly more complex version:

MATSUNIS SHECHAMANDI     
(Georgian Yogurt Soup)


1 tbls flour
1/8th tsp salt
3 cups plain yogurt
1 cup water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbls butter
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tbls minced fresh mint
2 tbls minced cilantro
¼ cup cooked rice

Stir the flour and salt into the yogurt, then add the water and beat well.

In a stockpot, sauté the onion lightly in the butter, then stir in the yogurt. Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Carefully stir a little of the hot liquid into the beaten eggs, then whisk the eggs into the soup. Simmer a few minutes longer.

Just before serving, add the minced herbs and rice.

Rice and other grains are often used to help thicken soups and make them more hearty. A more traditional such addition is to include wheat berries.

More time consuming, but worth the effort, is the following made with two types of noodles:

TUTMAJI
(Georgian Noodle and Yogurt Soup)


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour     
½ cup water
4 tbls clarified butter     
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup plain yogurt     
1 ½ tsp salt or to taste
3 cups water

Mix the flour and ½ cup water together to form a fairly stiff dough. Knead it on a lightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes or until the dough is smooth and doesn’t stick. Divide dough in half. Cover one with plastic wrap while working on the other.

Roll the first piece of dough into a circle about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle it with flour. Cut it into four strips, horizontally. Stack the strips and slice them crosswise to produce short noodles, about ½ inch wide. Sprinkle with flour as you break them into individual noodles.

Roll the remaining dough into several ropes the thickness of fat pencils. Cut each rope crosswise to form small chunky pieces about ½ inch long. Sprinkle them with a little flour.
Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over low to medium heat and, when it’s bubbling, add the chunky dough pieces, tossing them until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. Bring 3 cups water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add the onions to the pan with the dough chunks and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 5-6 minutes.

When the water boils, stir in 1 ½ teaspoons salt and the noodles. When the water returns to boil and the noodles come to the surface, stir in the yogurt and cook for a couple of minutes more. Stir in the onion mixture, taste for seasoning, and serve hot.

Beyond yogurt there is an astounding diversity of soups found throughout Georgia. Here are just a few of them:

KHARCHO
(Georgian Beef Soup with Herbs)


2 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 lb veal or beef bones
2 quarts water
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs parsley
¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
¼ cup uncooked rice
3 large onions
2 tbls butter
1 ¾ tsp salt
2 ounces apricot leather (or sub tart dried apricots)
¼ cup boiling water
1 tbls lemon juice
Black pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp paprika
Generous ½ tsp each of ground coriander seed, dried basil, ground caraway seed and ground marigold petals.
3 tbls finely chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, dill, etc.)

Bring the beef and bones to a boil in the 2 quarts water and skim the foam that rises to the surface. Add the bay leaves, parsley sprigs and peppercorns and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Strain, reserving meat.

Return the broth to a boil, add the rice, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onions and cook in the butter until soft but not brown. Add them to the soup along with the salt. Cook 10 minutes more, or until the rice is done.

Put the apricot leather in a bowl and pour the ¼ cup boiling water over it. Let stand 15 minutes, then stir until creamy. If using dried apricots, puree them. Then should not be in pieces. Add the lemon juice.

Return the meat to the pot. Stir in the freshly ground pepper, the garlic, cayenne, paprika, ground spices, and apricot puree. Cook for ten minutes more. If making the soup ahead, it can be cooled and refrigerated at this point. When ready to serve, heat gently, then proceed.

Stir in the fresh herbs and let the soup stand for 5 minutes before serving.

CHIKHIRTMA
(Georgian Tart Chicken Soup)


1 3 ½-4 lb chicken     
2 med onions, finely chopped
1 tsp salt     
2 bay leaves
1 tsp powdered marigold     
1 tbls cornstarch
3 eggs     
Salt
6-8 tbls vinegar or to taste (other versions use lemon juice)
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Put the chicken into a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Add the onions, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and let the chicken simmer for 1-1 ½ hours, adding additional water as needed. Skim the surface of foam and fat frequently. Add the powdered marigold midway through the cooking time. When the chicken is tender, remove from the soup.

Cut white meat into small pieces and return to the soup. Reserve dark meat for other purposes.

Remove 1 cup of stock, let it cool, and stir in the cornstarch. Beat the eggs until barely combined in a small bowl. Gradually add to the cooled stock, stirring well, then add to the soup pot slowly, stirring constantly. Continue simmering for 1-2 minutes to thicken soup. Add salt add vinegar.

Serve immediately garnished with chopped cilantro.

As mentioned above, there was a thriving Jewish population in Georgia for more than 2 ½ centuries. They often put a Georgian slant on otherwise common Jewish foods. For instance, in a chicken soup like this one, instead of matzoh balls, they’d make walnut balls:

KHENAGI
(Georgian/Jewish Walnut Balls)


½ lb shelled walnuts           
2 eggs

In a food processor or with mortar & pestle, grind the walnuts to a paste. Beat the eggs well, then stir into ground walnuts.

Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil.

Moisten your hands with water. With your fingers make 1-inch balls, using about a tablespoon of the mixture for each.

Drop the nut balls into boiling water and simmer them, covered, for 15 minutes.

Serve in chicken or vegetable soup.

BOZBASHI
(Georgian Hearty Lamb Soup)


2 tbls butter     
2 med onions, chopped
1 ½ lbs lamb, cubed     
1 ½ cups peeled, seeded, &   chopped tomato
2 med potatoes, chopped     
12 large okra pods, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)          
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
1 ½ tsp salt     
Black pepper to taste
2 qts water     
¼ cup parsley, chopped fine

In a large stockpot, heat the butter. Add the onion and sauté until soft and golden, 10-15 minutes. Add lamb and cook over medium heat, stirring, until meat browns. Stir in the tomatoes, potatoes, red pepper, okra, apricots, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to sweat. Add the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 1 ½ hours. Stir in the parsley.

MAKVLIS SUPI
(Georgian Cold Blackberry Soup)


2 lbs blackberries
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped mint-flavored thyme*
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
Pinch salt
1 tsp wine vinegar
Sour cream

Crush the blackberries and strain the juice. You should have about 3 ½ cups. Add water if necessary to equal that amount. Add the remaining ingredients, except the sour cream, stir well, and chill. Serve in soup plates with sour cream passed at the table.

*Mint-flavored thyme is a unique herb, found in Georgia. If unavailable (which is likely), substitute a mixture of 1 tablespoon mint and 2 tablespoons thyme.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 February 2018 at 09:21
Good morning, Brook -

Some excellent soups there. Several caught my eye, and I would really like to try them. The first one (Matsunis Shechamandi) is likely to be first one my list, with the added mushrooms and shallot. I don't recall seeing pimientos available around here, except in olives, but there are jars of "roasted red pepper" which might serve as well.

Others sound really good, too - a very wide range that is sure to capture the interest of just about anyone.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 February 2018 at 11:07
That's ok, Ron. I don't recall seeing pimientos in any of these soup recipes. So, no harm, no foul.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2018 at 02:20
Whoops! Sorry! I see it now, as a garnish for the alternate version.

There's no reason I can see to not use the roasted red peppers if pimiento isn't available. The pepper strips would be laid on each serving, to add color and eye appear---the basic function of any garnish.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2018 at 17:25
One of my biggest issues, with Georgian cuisine, is organizing the dishes. Given the nature of how food is served, Georgian dishes do not break down into courses. So, while there are many foods we might think of as main dishes, or appetizers, or sides, that’s not how it works in Georgia.

One can think of a Georgian meal almost as a series of zakusky tables, or as a small-plates meal. Either of those is closer to the mark than artificially dividing it into categories, and forcing it into typical Western service.

That being the case, in the next few installments I’m going to just present Georgian recipes, helter skelter, with no attempt at organization. If you want to do a Georgian meal, just pick and choose the ones that appeal (along with others I’ve posted above). There’s one caveat: Although a Georgian meal might seem to be an arbitrary collection of dishes, such is not the case. Georgian cooks strive for a balance of flavors, with each dish on the table complimenting all the others. And, don’t forget, that a Georgian table, no matter what else appears on it, is anchored at both ends with bread---usually two different kinds.

Keep in mind, too, that, unlike other cuisines in the region, Georgians utilize all proteins with equal fervor. Beef, lamb, chicken and other fowl are eaten with equal pleasure. Seafood is an exception, in that, other than along the Black Sea coast, most Georgian fish dishes are based on freshwater varieties, many of which are not available other than in the rivers and lakes of the country. I have not, as yet, tried any of them. But will include recipes for those who would like to.

KATAMI BROTSEULIT
(Georgian Chicken with Pomegranate Juice)


Try and find unsweetened pomegranate juice when making this dish. If not, add a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to cut the sweetness.

2 lb chicken pieces with some skin left on
Flour for dredging     
1 tbls sunflower oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion     
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed     
½ tbls dried summer savory     
2 bay leaves     
1 cup water     
1 ½ cups pomegranate juice     
Seeds of 1 pomegranate     
Salt and pepper to taste

Dredge the chicken pieces lightly in flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil in a sauté pan large enough to fit all the chicken in one layer. Brown the chicken on all sides over medium heat, turning once or twice, about 12-15 minutes.

Stir in the onion and cook with the chicken for 5 minutes or until onion starts to soften. Add the coriander seeds, herbs, water, and half the pomegranate juice, stirring well. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally, until the juice runs clear when a knife is inserted.
Remove from heat and stir in the remaining pomegranate juice. Check the seasoning. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and a few leaves of fresh thyme before serving.

ADJAPSANDALI
(Georgian Ratatouille)


Here we run into that translation problem, again. The author calls this ratatouille, but it has little resemblance to the French dish. Another author calls is a vegetable medley, which is, perhaps, closer to the mark. Either way, it’s delicious.

1 med eggplant, peeled & cut in ½” cubes
2 large green peppers in chunks     
2 med carrots, peeled & diced
1 onion, coarsely chopped     
3 tomatoes, peeled, cored, diced
Oil for sautéing     
2 tbls mint, chopped fine
1 tbls thyme, chopped fine     
¼ cup cilantro, chopped coarse
¼ cup basil, chopped coarse     
¼ cup parsley, chopped coarse
Black pepper & cinnamon to taste
Yogurt

Salt the eggplant, let stand for an hour, then rinse and dry well. Sauté each of the vegetables separately in oil until golden or medium tender. When sautéing tomatoes, add the mint, thyme, and half the cilantro, basil, and parsley. Add the pepper, cinnamon, and salt to taste; mix well.

Mound on serving dish. Sprinkle with remaining fresh herbs. Serve with yogurt on the side.

GOGRA NIGVZIT
(Georgian Pumpkin with Walnuts)


If pumpkin isn’t available, substitute butternut squash. Be careful not to overcook it. You want the pumpkin to be tender but not mushy.
     Cornelian cherries are another uniquely Georgian ingredient. Dried, unsweetened cranberries, dried sour cherries, or even dried barberries work just as well.


4 cups diced cooked pumpkin     
¾ cup walnut halves
1/ tsp coriander seeds, crushed     
¼ tsp ground fenugreek
2 garlic cloves, chopped     
¼ tsp salt
2 tbls white wine vinegar     
3-4 tbls water
1/3 cup scallions, white & green, chopped fine
¼ cup cilantro, chopped fine     
¼ cup sliced Cornelian cherries or dried cranberries     
¼ tsp finely sliced green chili (op)     
12 toasted walnut halves

Place the cool diced pumpkin in a medium mixing bowl.

In a food processor or mortar with pestle, combine the walnuts, coriander seeds, fenugreek, garlic and salt. Process to a paste. Stir in the vinegar and process again. Turn the mixture into a bowl and stir in the water to loosen the paste. Add the scallions and cilantro.

Stir the walnut mixture into the pumpkin and mix well. Add the cherries or cranberries and mix again.

Turn the pumpkin into a serving bowl and allow to rest for at least an hour at room temperature. Decorate with the chili and toasted walnuts before serving.

GUPTA
(Georgian Meat Patties)


More than likely, this dish started life as a way of using up leftovers, rather than cooking everything from-scratch as in the recipe. Logically, most cultures probably use a similar approach to left-overs. But this is only the second time I’ve seen it start with raw meat. The other was Ana Sortun’s Turkish-influenced Galette of Tender Pork (http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/galette-of-tender-pork-with-cumin-and-cider_topic4574.html).

¾ lb stewing beef (shoulder)     
4 tbls butter
1 cup raisins     
1 med potato, boiled
½ cup shelled walnuts     
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¾ tsp salt     
Black pepper to taste
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 cup fine bread crumbs
Parsley sprigs for garnish

Bring the beef to a boil in cold salted water, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, or until tender.

In a skillet melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Stir in ¾ cup of the raisins and cook them, covered, over low heat until plump, about ten minutes.

In a food processor, coarsely grind together the boiled beef, potato, walnuts, remaining ¼ cup raisins, and the parsley. Stir in the salt, pepper, and beaten egg. Shape the mixture into 12 flat, oval patties, about 3 inches long. Dust the patties with bread crumbs.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet and fry the patties slowly until browned, turning once.

Arrange the patties decoratively on a platter and strew the plumped raisins over them. Garnish with parsley sprigs.








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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 February 2018 at 11:03
Good recipes all, Brook - I see some similarities between the chicken dish and a Persian dish that I read about once.

It seems to me that this is a very, very old cuisine; maybe it is the herbs or maybe it is the primary ingredients...maybe it is the fundamental way in which they are prepared, but I get the impression of some real ancient foodways. I could easily imagine much of it nearly unchanged for hundreds or even thousands of years, except for the "recent" additions such as peppers, tomatoes etc.
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There's no doubt that Georgia adopted the Persian technique of mixing fruit (or fruit juice) with proteins, Ron. The difference is that in Persia the tendency was to use sweet fruits (I have, for instance, in my files, a fantastic Persian dish for chicken and peaches). In Georgia, on the other hand, they go with tart flavors. Thus the pomegranate juice in that recipe.
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Continuing our look at Georgian recipes, here are some additional ones in no particular order:

CHASHUSHULI
(Georgian Beef and Chickpea Stew)


This recipe is an ideal example of the Georgian penchant for fresh herbs.
     While any stewing beef would work, I chose beef shoulder, and it worked perfectly


5 tbls sunflower oil     
2 lbs + stewing beef
2 cups chopped onion     
½ cup finely chopped ginger
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped     
1 cup white wine
3 cups cooked chickpeas     
2 cups beef stock
Chili to taste     
1 ½ tsp salt
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley     
3 tbls finely chopped mint
3 tbls finely chopped dill     
Black pepper to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy casserole. Brown the meat in batches, removing each batch to a bowl.

Preheat oven to 300F.

When all meat is browned lower heat, pour in balance of oil, and add onions, garlic, and ginger. Stir well to scrape up the meat cooking juices, cover the pan, and cook slowly for 8-10 minutes until onions are soft. Pour the wine into the onions, raise the heat, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and bring to boil.

Stir in the meat and its juices. Pour in the hot stock. Add the chili, salt and parsley and mix well.

Cover the casserole and place in the center of the oven. Cook 90-120 minutes until meat is tender. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the mint and dill and allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.

CHAKHOKHBILI
(Georgian Chicken & Tomato Stew)


In Georgia, this would be made on top of the stove, rather than in the oven.
          This same stew, made with beef, is called Chashushuli. Adjust cook time to 70-90 minutes.


3 tbls butter     
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 lb skinless/boneless chicken in 1 ¼” cubes
1 tsp ground fenugreek     
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups water or chicken stock     
1 tsp salt
1 cup tomato pulp, fresh or canned     
Chopped fresh chili to taste
1 oz cilantro, tied in a bunch     
¼ cup chopped cilantro     
¼ cup chopped basil     
2 tbls chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a heavy casserole melt half the butter. Stir in the onions and cook over low heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Turn the onions onto a side plate and add the remaining butter to the pan. Stir in the meat, raise the heat, and brown on all sides in small batches. When all the meat is browned, return it to the pan with the onions, fenugreek, and half the garlic. Cook for a minute more.
Add the water, salt and tomato pulp and bring the mixture to the boil. Add the chili. Remove from heat and push cilantro bundle into middle of stew. Cover casserole and place in center of the oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 50-60 minutes, until meat is tender but not dry.

Remove stew from oven. Pull out the cilantro bouquet and discard. Stir in the fresh herbs and remaining garlic. Let stand five minutes before serving.

PRASI
(Georgian Leeks with Walnut Paste)


Here is yet another version of a dish made with a walnut sauce. In this case, the paste is actually a condiment Georgian housewives keep on hand all the time. Naturally, everyone has their favorite recipe. And everyone’s mixture is the “best.”

3 1/3 cups sliced leeks     
3 tbls walnut paste
2 tbls water     
1 tbls cilantro, chopped fine
Red pepper flakes     
Salt & pepper to taste

Prep leeks: Using whites and tender green parts, slice lengthwise, halfway through leek, then into 1-inch slices. Rinse well in a bowl of cold water to remove any grit.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Drop the leeks into it and boil for 5 minutes, until the leeks are just soft. Drain over a bowl to catch the cooking water (use it in soups or stews). Let the leeks cool in the strainer or colander.

In a cup, mix the walnut paste with the water and stir well for a minute or two. This will help release the walnuts’ flavor. Add the cilantro.

Turn the cool leeks into a serving bowl. Stir in the paste and mix well. Taste for seasoning, adding a pinch of optional chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

MIGVZIS SAKMAZI
(Georgian Walnut Paste)


1 ½ cups walnut halves     
3 garlic cloves
½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed     
¼ tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp salt     
1 tbls chopped mint
3 tbls chopped cilantro     
1 tsp minced dill
Fresh chili to taste     
¼ cup water

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have an even paste

Store tightly wrapped with plastic wrap (on the surface) for up to two weeks in the fridge. Or small batches can be frozen for quick use at a later date.

SOKO ARAJANIT
(Georgian Mushrooms in Sour Cream Sauce


Georgians share a love of mushrooms with their Russian neighbors, and recipes have criss-crossed both countries for time out of mind. Indeed, with the addition of some fresh dill, this would be a classic Russian dish.

1 lb white mushrooms     
5 tbls butter
Salt to taste     
½ cup whole milk
½ cup sour cream     
2 tbls flour
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice mushrooms into 3-4 pieces. In a cast-iron pan, melt the butter, add the mushrooms, and cook over medium heat, stirring often. Once mushrooms produce some juice, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5-6 minutes. Add salt.
Add the mild to the sour cream and stir until blended. Stir in the flour until smooth. Uncover mushrooms, increase heat slightly, and slowly stir in the cream mixture. Allow mixture to bubble gently. Continue stirring as it thickens. If sauce gets too thick add more milk.

Pour into 6 ramekins (3/4 cup), place on a cookie sheet, and put in oven. Bake 8-10 minutes or until surface of each begins to brown.

Serve immediately with a grind of black pepper at the table.     

MTSVANE LOBIOS SALATI
(Georgian Green Bean Salad)


Full disclosure: Friend Wife and I were less than impressed with this dish. There’s nothing wrong with it. But, after so many truly special Georgian dishes, this one is sort of ho-hum. Give it a try, though, and see what you think.

1 lb young green beans
1 lg garlic clove, minced
½ cup cilantro, chopped     
3 tbls olive oil
2 tbls red wine vinegar

Trim beans and cook them in boiling salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well and mix with the remaining ingredients. Chill for several hours, but bring to near room temperature before serving.
     




But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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