Georgia is a famous place for it’s cuisine. I could bite my fingers every time the food is served. Khachapuri, khinkali, pkhali, lobio, churchkhela… is a never ending story in Tbilisi. From breakfast to lunch and from lunch to dinner, and from dinner to breakfast, and so on, and again. So delicious food, that I couldn’t stop eating.
COOKING IN TBILISI
For the reason to bring some recipe back to Latvia I have visited some local villages in order to make my own Georgian bread Puri and sweets called Churchkhela.
October is a perfect time for visiting Georgia. This is a season of grapes and we had a chance to taste young wine and make fresh churchkhela.
We have visited wineries in Khakheti tasting very good Georgian wines, enjoying walk in wine yards, beautiful view to the mountains along the road and cooking Georgian traditional food with locals.
Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian sweet, which rather looks like a sausage, but don’t judge it by it’s appearance. It is very qualitative sweetness made only from natural ingredients and very delicious, especially if you are a connoisseur of dried fruits and nuts, who I am.
Georgian lady shared her experience for cooking traditional dishes with us.
Churchkhela is being cooked from two prepared ingredients.
- Filling. It consists of nuts, rather walnuts, but other nuts also can be used. Take whole pieces and needle with thread. Thread the nuts through the center and knot both ends. Make a strips around 20cm long and put aside.
- Tatara. Is a dough, which covers the nuts and made from grape juice cooked for 40 minutes with adding flour and sugar. The mixture should be is sticky and dark brown colour.
Take the strip with nuts and put it down in the tatara holding the edge of the strip. Take it out and hang it for drying. Drying can take up to 3-5 days until it stops be sticky.
Freshly made churchkhela (right away at the season of grapes) is the total love and joy. The biggest mistake is to try stale churchkhela, which can spoil all impression about this special product. Be picky, especially when you buy pieces for souvenirs. There are only one spot in Tbilisi airport with good fresh churchkhela in the main hall before you move to gates control.
Georgian bread Puri is made simply from flour and water, but the interesting thing about this bread is a special technique how it is being cooked in a deep circular clay oven called tone. That was very nice experience to make Puri myself, but this is impossible to repeat it at home. I will need to come back to Georgia to repeat it again 🙂
TOMATO-CUCUMBER SALAD WITH WALNUTS
A standard salad served in any Georgian restaurant as appetizer. The main specialty of this salad is the sauce made with walnuts. Grown in Georgia fresh cucumbers, ripe and juicy red tomatoes, and red onions are delicious by itself, but salad dressing make it even more special. Salad sauce cooking style varies from place to place. Some make it creamy by blending nuts in food processor, but some grinding in a pestle. I do choose second option, since I love to feel small pieces of nuts.
Sunflower oil (I am using a walnut oil)
Vinegar (I like to use pomegranate vinegar)
Salt and pepper
It is too simple to describe long.
- Cut cucumbers and tomatoes in medium size pieces and slice red onion.
- Cut cilantro and grind walnuts.
- Mix all dressing ingredients together and put over cut vegetables.
Enjoy the taste of Georgia at home any moment 🙂