Even though it is located in the Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union, Georgia has a style of cookery that has a closer kinship to that of the Middle East than to that of Russia.
One of the things that gives Georgian cookery its unique flavor is the liberal use of fruits and nuts together with meat and poultry - walnut and plum sauces being favorites. The region also boasts an enormous variety of heavy but delicious breads that vary in taste and texture from village to village.
1 chicken (about 1 1/2-2 kgs.)
1 small onion
1 sprig each tarragon and parsley
olive oil as required
400 gr. walnuts, shelled and finely ground
6 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup coriander, chopped
hot paprika or several dashes of Tabasco, to taste
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp. fenugreek
1/4 tsp. each turmeric and coriander
Wash the chicken under cold running water and then dry well. Place the whole onion, tarragon and parsley in the cavity of the bird, and then brush the skin with olive oil.
Place the chicken in a roasting pan and put in an oven that has been preheated to very hot. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to medium and roast the bird until it is tender (40 - 45 minutes).
Heat about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet and saute the chopped onion until it is translucent. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Serve this spice mixture in a sauceboat. Serves 4.
This bread comes from Georgia, where it was made by Jews to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, and by Christians to celebrate the holiday of Pentecost.
1 cup lukewarm milk
2 packages (60 gr.) dry yeast
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar
about 4 cups of flour
125 gr. butter, softened
675 gr. mild Camembert or Brie-type cheese
375 gr. feta cheese or other tangy goat cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
about 2 Tbsp. melted butter
In a small glass, mix together 1/2 cup of the milk, the yeast and 1 tsp. of the sugar. Let stand at room temperature for 10 - 15 minutes and then add this mixture to the remaining milk.
Place 3 cups of flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the milk, remaining sugar and the softened butter. Stir with a rubber spatula until a firm dough ball is formed.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. When the dough is elastic and no longer sticky, transfer to a greased bowl, turning it so that it is coated on all sides. Cover with a lightly dampened cloth and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours).
Punch the dough down and let rise again until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).
Grate the Camembert cheese and crumble the goat cheese. Combine the two, add the egg and mix well.
Punch the dough down again and then roll out on a lightly floured surface to a circle of about 50 cm. in diameter. Fold the dough into quarters and place the point in the center of a 23 cm. pan with sides about 5 cm high. Unfold the dough and let the excess hang over the sides.
Spoon the cheese mixture onto the dough and then pick up the excess dough hanging over the edges and pleat it over the cheese. Make sure all the pleats go in the same direction. Gather the ends of the dough in the center and twist into a small knob. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Brush the top of the dough with melted butter and bake on the center shelf of an oven that has been pre-heated to 190° Celsius (375° Fahrenheit), until the bread is golden (about 1 hour). Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
1/2 kg. canned or 4 cups cooked kidney beans
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. crushed, dried chili peppers
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. minced coriander leaves
salt to taste
1/2 cup damson plum jam
about 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
If using canned beans, strain the beans and rinse lightly under cold running water.
Drain the beans thoroughly and turn into a serving bowl. With a mortar and pestle or blender, crush the garlic together with the chili peppers, basil, coriander and a pinch or two of salt. Work to a smooth paste.
Rub the jam through a fine sieve and mix together with the herb paste, thinning with vinegar, a few drops at a time. Season the sauce to taste with salt and gently fold it into the beans with a wooden spoon. Let stand at room temperature for 2 - 3 hours before serving. Serves 6.
Note: If the fish suggested in this recipe are not available, substitute trout fillets and/or bass fillets.
1/4 kg. dried apricots, pitted
1 cup port wine
2 cups burghul (cracked wheat)
1/4 kg. dried prunes, pitted and halved
1/4 cup parve margarine
2 large onions, chopped coarsely
2 stalks celery, without leaves, chopped finely
1 tsp. sage
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup beef stock
1 turkey (about 4 1/2 kgs.) dressed
In a mixing bowl, soak the apricots in the port overnight. Remove the apricots with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve the wine.
In a separate bowl, soak the cracked wheat in 4 cups of water for 2 hours and then drain well.
Melt the margarine in a large heavy skillet and saute the onion and celery until the onions are translucent. Add the cracked wheat and saute for 5 minutes longer. Season with the sage and salt and pepper to taste, add the prunes, apricots, pine nuts and stock and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. With this mixture, stuff the bird.
Truss the bird well and place on a rack in an oven that has been preheated to very hot. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to medium and bake, allowing about 55 minutes per kg., basting often with the wine and pan drippings. When the bird is done, let it cool for 10 minutes (or slightly longer) before carving. If desired, make a gravy from the drippings and serve in a sauceboat. (Serves 6 - 8).