Mzhave | Georgian Cabbage Pickled with Beets

Mzhave Georgian cabbage pickled with beets

Mzhave Combosto is widely popular in former Soviet countries appetizer made with cabbage and beetroot. Since it belongs to the Georgian cuisine, it is also known as Georgian or Guria-style cabbage. Word MZHAVE literally means salted, fermented, or pickled. There are variations in different regions of Georgia (e.g., in Guria, Imereti, and Kakheti). Some cooks prefer natural fermentation when other add vinegar to pickle vegetables. Some recipes make the cabbage more hot and pungent, while other are not heavy with spices and herbs. Every household adjusts the recipe to the taste. The common ingredients are juicy white cabbage, beetroot, garlic, and chile pepper. Celery is also often in the list.
In Ukraine, we have a similar recipe — Pelyustka. The name comes from the word “petal” probably because pickled with beets cabbage leaves look like pink flower petals.

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Lamb Kabobs: Making Shashlik in Texas

Lamb Cabobs | Shashlyks

How authentic is this shashlyk? Well, let’s see. Instead of traditional mangal, I use shichirin and instead of grapevine — binchotan charcoals from Japan. While true Georgian shashlik is made of non-aged lamb, I choose conditioned lamb from New Zeland. Finally, the marinade is based on local herbs, vegetables, and spices. I couldn’t even find a good substitute for young Georgian wine and decided to use sake for its cleaner taste.

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Khashlama

Khashlama

I prefer slowly cooked beef shanks for plain khashlama and leg of lamb for festive version. A slow cooker/crock pot is the most convenient device to make this dish. Otherwise, assemble vegetables and meat layers in an iron pot, start on the stove to bring water to boiling and finish in the 300F oven by slowly cooking for another 3-4 hours. There is also a version when meat is cooked first; then it is layered with vegetables in small ceramic or clay pots and cooked in the oven to serve khashlama individually portioned. In this case, it only takes 1-1.5 hours in the oven — just to cook vegetables.

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Dumplings: Georgian Khinkali

Khinkali

Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) is a juicy Georgian dumpling, filled with seasoned minced meat (lamb or beef + pork). Minced onions, red chili pepper, and cumin are always part of the recipe, while herbs (cilantro and parsley) are optional. Khinkali is supposed to be eaten with hands (no utensils). It is picked up by the top of the dumpling (aka kudi or “hat”) and turned upside down. First, you bite a small hole to suck all the meat juices trapped inside. Than, you can eat the rest of the dumpling, except for the part you’ve been using as a holder, the “hat.”

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Ode to Texas Peaches: Peach & Pecan Churchkhella

Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather

The idea of Cowboy Peach & Pecan Leather comes from my childhood delicacy. It’s a natural fruit-n-nut snack popular in Georgia (ჩურჩხელა — Churchkhella). The main idea is to use what is locally plentiful and in season. In Central Texas, they are pecans and peaches. Unlike grape juice, 1 gallon of peach puree needs only 4 tablespoon of corn starch and 2-3 minutes of boiling to become thick enough for dipping.

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Chard Pkhali

Chard Pkhali

Pkhali (ფხალი) is a signature Georgian appetizer. Its consistency is similar to pesto and tapenade. Pkhali’s main ingredients are cooked vegetables and walnuts mixed with traditional herbs and spices. Georgians are fond of greens. Many pkhali recipes include leaf cabbages/lettuces, chard/beetroot greens, or spinach. “Pkhali” is a Georgian name of chard. Follow my recipe to make this version of pkhali — full of umami and meat-like flavors, yet vegan.

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Grin for Green! Meat Stew with Green Plums, Almonds, or Apricots

Middle East and Mediterranean spring dishes feature sour (unripe, with soft white pit) stone fruit as their favorite seasonal souring agents — almonds, apricots, and plums. Combined with fresh greens and spices, they magically transform meat and poultry stews into refreshing flavorful dishes. This recipe is a modified version of Chakapuli (Georgian: ჩაქაფული), a Georgian stew made with onions, lamb chops, dry white wine, tarragon leaves, unripe cherry plums (tkemali) or tkemali sauce, fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill, cilantro), garlic and salt. It is considered to be one of the most popular dishes in Georgia. I replaced green plums with green apricots.

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Pkhali

Eggplant Phali

Pkhali (ფხალი) is a signature Georgian appetizer. Its consistency is similar to pesto and tapenade. Pkhali’s main ingredients are cooked vegetables and walnuts mixed with traditional herbs and spices. If you don’t aim for authenticity, and rather prefer to explore your own vegetables-nuts-herbs-spices variations, play with different nuts and seeds. Use your favorite spice mixes and herbs instead of Utskho Suneli and Khmeli Suneli. You won’t be able to name your dish “pkhali”, but you’ll enjoy it for sure.

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Megrelian Kharcho

Megrelian Kharcho

Kharcho (ხარჩო) is a traditional Georgian meaty soup or stew. It is usually made with beef or chicken, but can also be made with other meats and poultry. Depending on the region, its consistency may vary. There are many recipes, many variations. What similar characteristics make them all “kharcho”?

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