Bassa’s Traditional Georgian Toast

I have always been in awe of the amazing Georgian recipes published on the tall person’s Georgia About blog so I have decided to make my contribution to traditional Georgian cuisine.

For my debut recipe I have decided to make traditional Georgian toast. I know you are thinking that this is an ambitious start but I decided to begin with something of medium difficulty to see if I had the magic culinary touch.

Follow this step-by-step photo recipe and you too can enjoy traditional Georgian toast!

Georgian Toast

Ingredients: Bread and a bit of butter. If you do not have access to Georgian ingredients you can use local substitutes but you will lose some of the Georgian ‘authenticity’ of this recipe.

Bread

Preparation: Cut two slices of bread – thick slices if you are hungry and thin slices if you are not too hungry. If you are in-between hungry you could use one thick slice and one thin slice. Once you have decided how hungry you are and have cut the bread to meet your individual needs insert the two slices of bread into a Georgian toaster (or local substitute). Now wait. Whilst waiting you could pass the time by looking at other posts on this blog – it will help avoid your tummy making hungry noises.

When the toast is ready, remove the slices from the Georgian toaster (or local substitute) and apply Georgian butter (or local substitute) to one side of each slice of toast. Applying butter to both sides is permissible but you will risk having hot, melting butter drop on your lap. We don’t want to waste that lovely Georgian butter (or local substitute)!

Butter

Serving: Serve hot, put your feet up and enjoy Bassa’s traditional Georgian toast.

Buttered Toast

Hmm, I really do think I have a talent for this.

P.S Please don’t tell the tall person about my culinary expertise or he will want me to help him in the kitchen all of the time and I’ll have less time to snooze in my shady spot in the yard.

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I love khinkali!

De’s sister Mari came to see us yesterday and we had a Khinkali party. Khinkali is a popular Georgian dish made of twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat and spices.

De and Mari made our Khinkali.

In this photo you can see the Khinkali in different stages of preparation.

The idea is to make as many pleats as possible as you bunch the dough around the filling.

The dumplings are cooked in salted, boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes.

The Khinkali are served hot with no garnish other than black pepper.

There is an art to eating Khinkali. The doughy top, where the pleats all meet, is never eaten, but used as a handle for holding the hot dumplings. Here is a picture of the tall person demonstrating the technique and making sure none of the delicious meat juices escape!

Barnaby and me also had our share of the delicious Khinkali. Here we are demonstrating our technique!

I love Khinkali!

Say cheese!

Sulguni is a very popular curd cheese that has been produced in Georgia for centuries. I like it a lot. It is made from cows milk and has a soft and springy texture and a slightly sour, salty taste. It is a favourite ingredient in Georgian cuisine, most commonly in the famous Georgian cheese-bread called khachapuri. It is great in salads and can be added to practically any dish which requires a mild melted cheese. De says it is perfect for pizzas and I agree!

De will always ask to taste a cheese before she buys it and will reject it if it is not perfect. Sometimes, she will go to three or four or more cheese stalls before she finds one she likes. The tall person says it reminds him of women buying shoes!

Tbilisi’s markets have mountains of these disc shaped cheeses but you can also buy them in little shops or from kiosks like the one in the photograph below and from old ladies who make their cheese at home and sell it to passers by in the streets.

A man in her village ate 99!

It is Mari’s birthday today. Happy birthday Mari! Mari is De’s sister and a special friend of mine. Even though it is her birthday she still had to go to work but De, the tall person and the little person had a surprise for her. They met her after work and took her to see the Georgian national basketball team play Israel in a friendly match. Mari is crazy about basketball! I would have liked to have gone – I like ball games. Anyway, Georgia won 97-91 and Mari and De and the tall person and the little person and everyone in Georgia were all very happy.

After the basketball match they went to a restaurant to eat khinkali, which are dumplings stuffed with meat and spices. Khinkali is very popular in Georgia and I have them for breakfast sometimes. They are delicious! Georgians have competitions to see how many they can eat. De told me that a man in her village ate 99!

They are home now and I think Mari had a very nice birthday.

However, I think there has been a significant oversight in the birthday itinerary – so far I have not seen any birthday cake. I will follow this up with De.

P.S. Khinkali originally came from Kazbegi, a mountainous part of Georgia. Short haired Caucasian Shepherd dogs also originated in Kazbegi.

Robert Browning and I like Bread

I love bread. In Georgia it is called puri (pronounced “poo-ree”) and is baked in a deep circular clay oven called a tone (pronounced “ton-AY”). We have a tone in our garden but we don’t bake bread in it. Most streets in Georgia have at least one bakery. They are very hot places. The tall person likes to watch the baker make the traditional long pointed bread called shotis puri. He told me that the dough is stretched on to a shovel and placed on the inside walls of the oven. When it is ready the baker uses long sticks to take it out and puts it on slatted wooden shelves to cool. It smells fantastic!

The tall person knows that I love bread and he suggested I quote a famous poet, who liked bread as much as I do.

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” –Robert Browning.

What a wise man!