Abkhazian Khachapuri, and baking away my feelings.

Word on the street is that my recent blog post about why I moved home was offensive to a lot of people in my previous home, which surprises and saddens me because I didn’t say anything incriminating about Georgia.  Anyone who has followed my blog for the past year knows that I have said a lot more positive things about Georgia than negative.  So, I’m feeling a little stressed and sad these days… again.  What better way is there to relieve stress than baking cookies?  And eating them all?!  (OK, there’s meditation, yoga, running, etc., but that’s just not going to cut it today).

Before I begin my cookie-baking frenzy, I’d like to share with you an interesting Georgian dish a friend made for me.  I may have already mentioned the wonderful and ubiquitous Georgian cheese bread, khachapuri.  I don’t think I ever went more than a few days without eating khachapuri in Georgia.  It’s everywhere.  They use a “Khachapuri Index” as a measure of inflation, for crying out loud.

Khachapuri comes in many regional varieties.  Most often, it’s a round pie of spongy bread filled with salty cheese.  The most common ones I saw were Imeretian and Mingrelian, which look a bit like pizzas without the tomato sauce.  My personal favorite was Adjarian, which is shaped like a boat and filled with thick slabs of butter and an entire egg (or two) floating in a sea of bubbling cheese.  Peep this:

Adjarian Khachapuri

Adjarian Khachapuri

This is Ossetian khachapuri, which looks a lot like Imeretian but has an additional filling of potato.  Tasty.

This is Ossetian khachapuri, which looks a lot like Imeretian but also has a potato filling.

You can even get khachapuri-on-a-stick!

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They took out the stick before they served it. I was very disappointed, for the sake of my photos.

When the lovely and gracious Irina offered to show me how to make achma, or Abkhazian khachapuri, a few days before I left Georgia, I was surprised to discover yet another variety and eager to stuff my face with it.  Apparently there is no limitation to what humans can do with cheese, bread, butter, and time.

Abkhazian khachapuri (which may sound familiar if you remember anything about the war with Russia in 2008, which left Georgia lacking two chunks of property along the Russian border:  Abkhazia and South Ossetia) looks like sauceless lasagna.  It tastes like buttery macaroni and cheese stacked in crunchy, gooey layers.  I doubt I could ever recreate this masterpiece, but for my brave and curious readers, I’ll show the process step-by-step.

Sorry in advance for missing details!  I’m working on getting more exact measurements from Irina, which I will add later.

Ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • More butter than you would ever anticipate
  • Cheese (If you’re not able to find Georgian cheeses, so you can technically replace with mozzarella or muenster. However, I think that lacks some of the salty tang of Georgian cheese, so I’d mix in some feta.)
  • Some more butter

Step 1:  Distract the sous chef.

P1130015

2.  Make some dough:

Combine flour, eggs, … and probably some other stuff.  Don’t remember.

3.  The dough will be split into 6 even parts.  Roll one of the sections into a thin layer, one eighth or one quarter of an inch.

P1120976

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4.  Ok this next part is a lot harder to explain in words than I expected, so bear with me.  Two of these sections of dough are going to serve as the first and last layer of the khachapuri, and will not be boiled.  But the remaining four will be boiled individually, which will give them a pasta-like consistency.

So, press the first layer of dough (un-boiled) into a lasagna pan.  On top of this, brush a healthy coat of melted butter, followed by a layer of shredded cheese (whichever cheese mixture you choose).

5.  Roll out another very thin layer of dough.  Gently drop this layer of dough into a large bowl or pot of boiling water, and let it boil for two minutes.

Abkhazian Khachapuri 1

Then, carefully transfer the boiled sheet of dough to a bowl of ice cold water.

Abkhazian Khachapuri 2

Carefully lay this sheet of dough on a towel and pat dry.  Then, lay it onto the khachapuri, and follow with another coat of melted butter and shredded cheese.

Abkhazian Khachapuri 3

6.  Repeat with the next three sections of dough.  Finally, top it with the final un-boiled layer of dough, and brush with melted butter.

7.  Then, pre-cut the khachapuri into squares, because those bad boys are about to get nice and crispy on top.

8.  Bake for like… thirty minutes?  I don’t know.  TBD.

Abkhazian Khachapuri 4

9.  Serve hot and eat your way to heart disease!

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Abkhazian Khachapuri 5

Death by khachapuri

Again, my apologies for the missing details.  Once I gather them from my Georgian pals, I’ll fill them in here!

You can visit my friend Emma’s blog, Cookies and the Caucasus, for her own rendition of “Simplified Southwest Khachapuri”, and lots of great information about expat life in Georgia.

PS- My apricot nectar cookies are finished, but I don’t even want to eat them any more, because I licked too much cookie dough off of my fingers and lost my appetite.  Darn you, cookie dough!Apricot Cookies

39 comments

  1. Jen

    I love your blog, really, it’s such an inspiration for new bloggers like myself! If you don’t mind me asking, how did you do the collage thing with the photos? Did you change anything in the theme? 🙂

    Jen
    ** if you want to take a look at the Philippines (my country), you can check out my blog: http://jennicawanders.wordpress.com/

    • Thank you Jen! I use a wonderful website called Picmonkey to create collages and edit images. Many of the functions are free, or you can pay a monthly fee for advances functions. I highly recommend it.

      http://www.picmonkey.com/

      And yes, I will definitely check out your blog. I really want to visit the Philippines some day!

      • Jen

        I’ll check that out! Thank you so much, Meghan. 🙂

        I hope you will! There’s so many beautiful beaches here. What you’re doing with microfinance is admirable. 🙂

    • Yes, Georgian food and drink is delicious. They know how to really relax and enjoy a 4 or 5 hour meal (at least, the men do). Try to visit in the summer if you get the chance, the countryside is spectacular.

  2. Oh my gosh. This looks incredible- thank you for sharing so many pictures of the entire process! I may attempt this if I’m willing to suffer from eating two of my allergens at one time (which I know I will be someday). I’ve never seen any dish like this yet, excepting like an enchilada or quesadilla, which would obviously have a very different taste. Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad you found it interesting, Veggie! I just felt bad that I forgot so many details. I should have had a notebook with me… (granted, it was being explained in Russian, so I might have misunderstood some of it anyway!). And I’m not sure there are many people on earth who would have an easy time digesting this concoction. Eating it, yes… digesting it… not so much.

  3. These look so good! I am an idiot in the kitchen and I don’t like to cook and this looks way beyond my abilities. But I think I can probably try to find a place in NYC that serves this. If I do, I will let you know!

    And I’m sorry you’re getting heat for your last blog post. You have definitely been very positive about Georgia. The only thing you did was be honest about why you left. Some people may not be happy about the way you perceived things, but everyone’s reality is very different and nobody lives an experience the same way. It’s what makes life interesting (and difficult sometimes).

    • I’m also a kitchen idiot, Amelie, so I will probably never attempt this one! But regular khachapuri might be doable.

      And yea it was really hard to hear that people were upset with my post, especially because I was in such a terrible state of mind when I first returned from Georgia. The funny thing is that it was all Georgian women who were offended. I can’t wrap my mind around that, haha. Oh well. Can’t please everyone.

      Thanks Amelie 🙂

  4. This looks so delicious! 😀

    And don’t worry about the people who’re taking offense to nothing. I wrote about how much I loved Mexico for a year and a half but my one post about the five cultural differences I thought I’d never get used to (written in a light-hearted way) always attracts haters who feel I’m criticising them rather than acknowledging how quirky and different our two nations are. People are always going to jump to the wrong conclusion. As I said in my earlier comment, you wrote with such positivity about Georgia, I would never have guessed you were having such a hard time.

  5. Pingback: Georgian Cuisine All-Star Team | Soulshine Traveler

  6. I LOVE khachapuri. I’ve had it travelling in Russia, where I’ve always made sure to go to a Georgian restaurant. It seems fairly similar to all those “pies” in this region–like burek in former yugoslavia too. I’ve tried to make strudel dough which is similar and it’s certainly an art to get the dough rolled out that thin!

    • I love it too, Sara. One month has already passed since I left Georgia and the khachapuri cravings are really creeping up on me now! I really enjoy bureks too. I had some in Astoria a few years ago.

  7. That looks like a lot of PT. I enjoy cooking, but that’s serious labour. Think I’ll give it a miss, not to mention those terrifying amounts of butter … and then more butter – I bet it tastes divine!

  8. Meghan, even a wise man would always have those who disagree or oppose to everything he says. So, don’t let anything or anyone make you unhappy. Just make khachapuri and you’ll know life is not bad after all. 🙂

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