Sunday, January 3, 2010

Georgian Spreads

Georgian cuisine has recently become one of our favorites (it is also especially excellent when you share a meal with a happy Georgian crowd and a few shots of homemade vodka). A basic dish served almost every meal is Mkhali, a garlicky walnut spread with herbs and always mixed with some sort of vegetable. Lucky for us we have a recipe in "The Geogian Feast" cookbook by Darra Goldstein, which we own, and that turns out so good it makes us go "wow" each time we taste it.
This recipe uses beets for the vegetable part, but regarding which vegetable you use, the options are endless. We tend to adapt it with something new every time.


500 gr beets (on different occasions we also used spinach, celery and cauliflower)
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried summer savory (if you can't find it - use dried sage)
1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp red wine vinegar

The recipe:

First prepare the beets. The best way is to bake them in the oven until they get soft (1-2 hours). You can also boil them but then the beets lose a great deal of their taste. We usually steam them in a steamer which also works well for other vegetables. This makes the process quick and the fresh taste of the vegetable is preserved.
While the beets are cooking, grind the walnuts, garlic and salt finely. Then, add the fresh herbs and continue grinding to make a fine and smooth paste (very important). Transfer to a bowl.

When the beets are soft, peel and grate them in a food processor. Mix the beets with the walnut paste and stir in the remaining ingredients. Taste. The Mkhali should be slightly tart and you might want to add a bit more vinegar.
Keep in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving, but serve at room temperature.


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