1) Chicken with herbs (Chakhokhbili) - total preparation time about an hour and a half; recipe claims it serves 6 to 8 but in fact I found it about right for five. The recipe stipulates that you must chop up the chicken by hand yourself into about ten pieces. Probably you could do this with just pre-packed legs or breasts, but it goes against the spirit of it.
2 tablespoons/30g/1 oz butter
One 3-pound/1.5kg chicken
4 medium onions, peeled and chopped
8 medium tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Generous ½ cup chopped mixed herbs (parsley, cilantro/coriander, tarragon, basil, dill) - really worth buying them fresh and chopping by hand
pinch of dried hot red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper
Melt the butter; brown the chicken pieces; stir in the onions and cook for ten minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook, covered for 30 minutes (or until the chicken is done).
Stir in the garlic, herbs, hot pepper and salt and pepper to taste; cook, covered for another five minutes.
Let stand for another five minutes and serve.
2) Green beans with egg (Mtsvane Lobios Chirbuli) - total cooking time about 45 mins; recipe claims it serves 4 but I think that is only as a side dish (in our case, with the chicken). I found I had used too much water and butter, and had to add a second egg to even things out, with much more stirring and cooking towards the end than perhaps should have been the case.
2 sprigs basil
1 sprig tarragon
2 sprigs summer savory/rocket
1 sprig dill
1 sprig parsley
½ pound/250g green beans
1 small onion, minced
¼ teaspoon/1g salt
6 tablespoons/80g butter
1 egg, beaten
Coarsely chop the herbs. Trim the beans and cut into small pieces. Place the beans in a single layer (hah! that's what the recipe says, but it is simply impossible!) in a pan and add enough water to half cover them. Bring to a boil, stir in the onion, salt and chopped herbs. Cover and simmer until the beans are soft and the water has been absorbed, 10-15 mins. Add the butter and sauté the beans lightly until the butter has melted. Then pour on the beaten egg, cover and cook for 2-3 mins, or just until the egg has set. Stir lightly and turn out into a bowl.
3) Khinkali/ხინკალი. These are real Georgian delicacies, dumplings stuffed with meat (though you can use cheese as well) and poached. See the Wikipedia article for a picture of them. I really love them, and approached the cooking process with reverence and trepidation, not least because it is years since I last grappled with any cooking involving pastry; I couldn't actually remember the last time I used a rolling pin. I didn't use enough flour on the working surface, so found that the result was a bit sticky, and unfortunately the bottoms fell off the earlier ones I made. Still, they tasted delicious even if the presentation wasn't quite what I had hoped. This recipe claims to make 25 but my unpracticed technique delivered only about 18. It's enough food for four or five people though. Took me about two hours but that would be less with practice.
4 cups/500g white flour
1¼ teaspoons/5g salt
1¼ cups/300ml warm water
1 pound/450g mixed minced beef and pork
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1¼ teaspoons/5g salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground caraway seed (I used cumin instead)
3 small onions, peeled and minced
½ cup/120ml warm water of beef bouillon (I used beef stock)
Combine the flour, salt and warm water to make a firm dough. Knead for 5 mins, and leave, covered, for 30-40 mins.
For the filling, mix the minced meat and spices; stir in the onions; and then knead in the water or bouillon by hand.
Divided the dough into 25 pieces. Roll each piece out to a six-inch/15cm circle. Place about 2 tablespoons/30g of filling in the centre of each round. Then (and this is the really tricky bit) fold the edges of the dough in to the centre making accordion pleats; move clockwise, allowing each fold to overlap the previous one; twist the pleats together at the top to seal. (Again, consult the Wikipedia picture for an idea of what is wanted.)
Cook the Khinkali in boiling salted water for 12-15 minutes, then serve hot, with black pepper.
To eat them, hold up by the topknot, and carefully bite off the bottom corner so that you can catch the stream of juice in your mouth. After eating the meaty part, you don't have to eat the topknot itself (traditionally thrown to any passing dogs). Yummy.