Chanakhi (Georgian lamb stew)

ChanakhiWow!  This is a remarkable dish.  I made it last night for the first time, and it blew me away.  I dream about dishes like this: a slow-braised lamb stew with cubed potatoes and eggplant, and enormous amounts of chopped herbs.  The flavors melt together in a clay pot and create an intensely flavored broth.  Darra Goldstein, in her fantastic cookbook The Georgian Feast, recommends braising in the oven.  But it’s also an ideal recipe for a Crock Pot.  Just make sure that for this recipe, you’re using at least a 6-quart pot.  The 4-quart variety isn’t nearly big enough. Continue reading

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Charkhlis Mkhali (Georgian Beet Salad)

BeetsThe Georgian table is always filled with a vast array of salads and appetizers.  Often at a Georgian restaurant, I don’t even make it to the main dish because I stuff myself on starters.  This is one of the culprits.  Mkhali (or pkhali) is a general term for a vegetable puree mixed with herbs and ground walnuts.  Yesterday I made the version with beets.  You could just as easily substitute spinach or other greens.  This recipe comes almost verbatim from Darra Goldstein’s masterpiece The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Continue reading

Lobio (Georgian bean salad)

LobioAlong with generous amounts of khachapuri, the other item that I almost always order in a Georgian restaurant is lobio.  It comes different ways.  This particular recipe is fairly standard.  This recipe is a perfect example of how the Georgians can take something as ordinary as kidney beans and turn them into something wondrously exotic.  If your friends are deathly allergic to walnuts, you can leave them out, and the dish doesn’t suffer too much.  This dish can be served either at room temperature or hot.  The hot version usually has the consistency of a stew and is often made with hot pepper. Continue reading

Khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread)

KhachapuriKhachapuri may be the most popular food in Georgia, and each of its many regions has its own distinct style. Imeretian khachapuri, the most common, is circular and filled with cheese.  Mingrelian is similar, but with more cheese added on top.  Adjarian khachapuri is shaped like an open boat and topped with a raw egg. Abkhazian khachapuri (Achma) is made of multiple moist layers of pasta-like dough, almost like lasagna.  Ossetian khachapuri has potato in the filling.  The economics school at Tbilisi State University has recently developed a “khachapuri index” to measure Georgian inflation, using as its market basket the limited set of ingredients used to make khachapuri, including the energy used to power the oven.

This recipe is a combination of the dough used in Darra Goldstein’s recipe in The Georgian Feast (the ultimate Georgian cookbook, in my opinion) and my favorite filling from Anya von Bremzen’s recipe in Please to the Table.  The picture above is what I produced yesterday.  It was very good, though not exactly the most common look. Continue reading