Taking a break from the meat-heavy dishes on this blog, here is a Georgian vegetable stew that’s very simple to make. I cooked it the other day together with some cheese bread, and didn’t even notice I was eating a vegetarian meal!
This recipe is from Практическая энциклопедия грузинской кухни (A practical encyclopedia of Georgian cuisine) by Elena Kiladze.
Eggplant (1 large)
Potato (2 medium)
Tomatoes (3 medium)
Onion (1 medium)
Red pepper powder
1. Cut the eggplant and potatoes into half circles, the onions into half rings, and the tomatoes into quarters. Finely mince the garlic and greens.
2. Fry the onions over medium heat until they are golden brown, then add the potatoes and fry these for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the eggplants and tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
4. Pour in 1/3 cup of water, turn down the heat to minimum, then cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and eggplants are soft.
5. Add the garlic, greens, salt, pepper, and mix well. Turn off the heat and let sit covered for some time. Enjoy!
Khachapuri is probably the most famous Georgian dish, and for good reason. It is incredibly simple to make and very tasty. If you like cheese and bread, you will love this dish.
There are several different varieties of khachapuri but they are all variations on the same idea: cheese stuffed with bread. Adjaruli is a boat-shaped bread filled with cheese and topped with egg and butter, mixed before serving. Megruli is a round-shaped bread filled with cheese and/or egg, sometimes with cheese on top. If you have enough dough and cheese, you can make both types at the same time.
In Georgia, khachapuri is filled with Georgian cheese, typically suluguni. I use a mix of mozzarella and feta or goat cheese. The idea is a cheese with the consistency and melt of mozzarella but with saltiness and tang. If using goat cheese, I would not use the rind.
Cheese (equal parts mozzarella and feta or goat cheese)
Butter (optional, for adjaruli)
1. Make a dough out of flour, warm water, yeast, and salt. Knead this for ten minutes, then rest covered in a warm place for 1 hour.
2. Mix your cheeses together with an egg white and a bit of salt depending on how salty your cheeses are. Mix well until you have produced a cheese mix of solid consistency.
3. When your dough has finished resting, take a piece and roll it out into an oblong shape. Not too thick or thin, maybe 1/2 cm thick.
4. Roll the long edges of the dough inwards and press the ends together to make the boat shape. Experiment with shapes; some people make a more fat and round shape, some twist the ends together, etc.
5. Fill the dough boat with cheese. You can brush the dough with egg yolk if you want the resulting bread to have an extra golden crust.
6. Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the filled dough onto a pan lined with parchment paper or oiled foil. (It may be easier to fill the dough directly on the pan so you don’t need to move it). Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Take the bread out, make a small indentation in the middle of the cheese, and crack an egg onto it. Return the pan to the oven and let it bake for a few minutes longer until the egg white has set.
8. Cut two slices of butter and stick into the cheese on each side of the egg. Mix everything together well before eating.
3. When your dough has finished resting, take a piece and roll it out into a round shape. Not too thick or thin, maybe 1/2 cm thick. Place a ball of cheese on top. You can mix the cheese together with egg yolk, but make sure it doesn’t get too runny.
4. Fold up the edges of your dough around the ball of cheese.
5. Press down to flatten the ball into a round disc of dough. Flip the dough back and forth a couple times to widen out the disc.
6. (Optional) Brush the top of the bread with egg yolk and sprinkle some extra cheese on top.
7. Rip a little hole in the top of the bread. This is an important step that will prevent the bread from rising up and bursting inside the oven.
8. Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the filled dough onto a pan lined with parchment paper or oiled foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Kutab (qutab, кутаб) comes from Azerbaijan: a Turkic country on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, formerly part of the Soviet Union. Although they don’t share a border, Azerbaijanis can understand Turkish and vice versa to some extent.
Kutab is a wonderfully simple dish that makes a great brunch: thin dough stuffed with filling and grilled on a saj (or in my case, a frying pan). The filling can be vegetables, cheese, and/or meat; I made mine with cheese and realized how similar it was (at least in concept) to a quesadilla.
Cheese (your preference; I used a mix of mozzarella and feta)
Greens (up to you; I used spring onions and cilantro; dill, basil, or parsley would be nice too)
1. Make your filling: mix the cheese, greens, and some oil together in a bowl.
2. Make a dough of flour, water, salt, and oil. It will be easier to roll out the dough if you let it rest for a bit (30min-1hr, covered so it doesn’t dry out). No need if you’re in a hurry, though.
3. Break the dough into small pieces as above. Lightly oil a piece, then roll it as flat and wide as you can. It should be almost paper-thin and slightly translucent when it is thin enough.
4. Spread the filling on one half.
5. Fold the dough over and press hard around the filling so the dough seals.
6. Cut a nice round shape out of the dough.
7. In a frying pan or on a griddle, grill the kutab on medium heat until the bottom has golden brown spots (should take 3-5 minutes). Flip the kutab over. The other side will get done much more quickly, so be attentive – after 1-2 minutes it should be nice and golden brown. Eat by itself, or with melted butter, sour cream, or yogurt. Enjoy!
Georgian food is quite different from Central Asian food; if I had to describe it simply, it’s like a fusion of Russian and Turkish cuisine. I’ve only had Georgian food in restaurants here in NYC, but loved what I’ve tried. Some foods, like the famous khachapuri cheese bread, are rich and hearty, reminiscent of Eastern European cuisine; others, like khinkali dumplings or tolma stuffed grape leaves show the influence of Central Asia or the Middle East.
Chakhokhbili is a Georgian dish of stewed chicken made with a special mix of herbs and spices called khmeli-suneli. Reading the label, khmeli-suneli has: marjoram, dill, thyme, basil, celery, mint, parsley, coriander, safflower, summer savory, red pepper, hyssop, black pepper, fenugreek, and bay leaves. I found it in Kalustyan’s. If you can’t find it, just use your favorite herbs. Probably just marjoram and thyme would be a decent substitute.
This recipe is from BigGeorgeHighlander, watch his Youtube recipe here (in Russian).
Chicken, chopped into medium sized pieces – 1lb
Onion, diced – 1 medium sized onion
Garlic, finely diced – 4-5 cloves
Basil, roughly chopped
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Diced tomatoes – 1 can or a few tomatoes
Khmeli-suneli spice mix
Red chili pepper, finely diced
1. Sautee the chicken in oil over high heat.
2. After the chicken is browned, add the onion and cook until soft.
3. Add the red chili pepper and cook everything for a bit.
4. Add black pepper and a few teaspoons of khmeli-suneli and mix everything together.
5. Add the diced tomato and a bit of sugar.
6. Turn to low heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Add salt, garlic, and the basil and cilantro. Cook everything together for a bit. Complete!