Saturday, 5 January 2013

Khachapuri - the food of the gods

Mmmm, khachapuri
So, we went to Moscow about a year ago, and - apart from the Kremlin and other irrelevances - the best thing was the Georgian food.  And the best thing about the Georgian food was khachapuri.  I could try to describe it but it wouldn't really work - you just need to try it.  There are variants but, essentially, it's flat bread with cheese on top and eggs cracked in and cooked on the hot bread.  I know, what you're thinking, "I can eat bread, cheese and eggs any time", but khachapuri is just SO much more than the sum of its parts.  It is glorious stuff.

As soon as we came back, we investigated Georgian restaurants in London - Tamada, in St Johns Wood, is pretty good but, really, I wanted to make it at home.  I was thrilled to see that Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook, which I have out from the library, had a recipe, so I gave it a whirl.

It was great fun to make - particularly the final bit where you had to make little boats with the dough (made in a similar way to this recipe) and put an egg yolk in each one, along with as much of the egg white as you could fit in.  The recipe suggests that you  pinch two ends of dough and then straighten the side "walls" but I found it easier (after a bit of trial and error) to make the "walls" first and then pinch the ends.
Khachapuri boats

They were yummy.  Key, I think to them, is the spicing - za'atar, along with some lemon and salt and pepper.  It's odd because I hadn't previously realised that khachapuri were spiced but, as soon as I'd spiced the cheese mixture, I knew it was going to taste like the khachapuri of Moscow.  The mixture of ricotta, halloumi and feta also worked well but I'd be inclined - next time - to have more cheese mixture: dough ratio.  And probably to make a couple of bigger ones to split rather than the small ones as they are a) fiddlier and b) mean that there's more bread than eggy/cheesey goodness!

Putting egg yolks in the khahapuri
Putting egg yolks in the khachapuri

Khachapuri with yolks ready to go into the oven

Khachapuri all done!

It does all make me realise how geographically close Gujarat is to Georgia/other Middle Eastern countries generally, "khachapuri" means "undercooked bread" in Gujarati, doubtless referring to the fact that the egg cooks on the bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment