Dolma (Ottoman Turkish: طوٓلمه) is a family of stuffed dishes common in Mediterranean cuisine and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Stuffed with lamb and rice grape leaves is one of the version. I was never impressed by what is sold or served as dolma in the U.S. Most of the time it is dry and tasteless. As a result, I never attempted to make it at home, thinking it’s not my thing. That was until some of my friends bragged about their homemade dolma with fresh grape leaves. The recipe below is my first try and I consider it very much up to my taste!
It’s been five years since Boring British Food project came to an end. It was a lot of fun to collaborate with my friend Katya who published more than a dozen books about the Victorian era. We discovered a remarkable number of dishes from the British Islands that became regular in my kitchen. The Yorkshire Pudding is one of them. Our version makes fast and easy dinner, and it is true to Yorkshire Pudding historical roots. Winter is an excellent time to enjoy it!
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.
If you are with me for a long time, you already know about my roots and my fascination with layered dough. They come together in this recipe. I’ve seen dargin khinkal on pictures and videos only and know about its taste and texture from somebody else’s descriptions. The combination of boiled beef and garlicky tsahdon (sauce) is the treat from my childhood, one of the dishes my grandma used to make for me.
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.
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.”
The recipe below is a modified version of Chakapuli (Georgian: ჩაქაფული), a Georgian stew made with onions, lamb neck, unripe cherry plums (tkemali), fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill, cilantro, tarragon), garlic and salt. It is considered to be one of the most popular dishes in Georgia.
Choosing the right lamb cut for the dish is crucial. This dish is cooked low and slow to make sure all flavors are developed. Lean lamb will become tough and dry at the end of the process. We need something with bones and connective tissues. The best cuts, in this case, are the leg and the neck of lamb. The neck is often sold as a cross cut steak and makes this dish very flavorful. This recipe doesn’t use any additional liquid. The meat is cooked in its own juices.