One country that has recently really piqued my interest is Georgia. It’s a sovereign state located in the middle of the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. I was first drawn to it through the travel/cooking blog, Georgia About. They do a really great job of promoting their beautiful country…so much that I told Hubby that I would really like to visit there. Both the urban and rural landscapes are beautiful with grand mountain ranges, beautiful valleys and rivers as well as some very interesting architecture both old and new. There are picturesque stone arched bridges, medieval fortresses and castles.
Georgia’s rich culture is reflected in its colourful festivals and interesting cuisine. It is influenced by several neighbouring countries including Russia and Turkey. When a recipe for Khachapuri was posted I just knew I would try my hand at making some. Khachapuri consists of a yeast bread dough which encloses some sort of a filling. It is very similar to a Borek which I buy quite regularly from the Turkish vendor at the Crossroads Farmer’s Market. The beetroot leaf and feta filling is a specialty from the South Ossetia and neighbouring region. While I was making it, I couldn’t help but think of several alternative filling options. I would love to make them into some sort of ‘hand pie’ type lunches for the family to take to school and work.
I used the recipe and step by step photos from the Georgian recipes section of the blog but I found I really had to think about what I was doing, re read many of the steps, and make my own adjustments according to feel specifically when adjusting the amount of flour, milk/water, greens, and feta used.
The ingredients for the dough call for a whole kilogram of flour but when I read the method, only 600 grams were used initially with another 150-200 grams added after the proofing. I ended up adding 800 grams up front (as well as some extra water) and omitted adding more after the dough was finished proofing. After two hours I had a decent springy dough which I separated into four equal portions, wrapping in cling film and set outside as the day was quite warm. Ten minutes later I had some pretty nice puffy dough.
While the dough was proofing I set about making the filling. I really didn’t have a whole 400 grams of beetroot leaves so I substituted about 200 grams of finely chopped spinach in addition to the 200 grams of beetroot leaves that I did have. I only used 400 grams of crumbled feta as opposed the 600 grams the recipe called for.
After the salt had worked it’s magic on the chopped greens, I added portions of it onto a paper towel and squeezed the extra liquid out.
Then I combined the two together to make the filling. In hindsight I would probably add some lemon juice to the filling next time. Next, I flattened each dough portion into a plate sized circle and placed the filling in the middle.
By bringing the outer edges of the circle inward and folding them against each other, I was able to make a dough pocket around the filling. A final pinch to make sure the dough held together and the Khachapuri was ready to be flattened.
I found that no matter how careful I was flattening the dough pocket by hand, there always seemed to be a weak spot when I was finished. Perhaps I will get better with practice! The Khachapuri were fried in butter (my choice of fats) for about 5-7 minutes per side, then cooled on a wire rack.
These handy little bread pockets practically flew out of the kitchen. With the cooler weather I am already craving home made soup so I made a nice curried carrot soup to serve alongside the Khachapuri for dinner. The rest were divided up and eaten in school and work lunches the next day. I already have a request to do some sort of a meat filling…really the possibilities are endless!
FOR THE DOUGH
- 800 g flour
- 300-400 ml milk
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tbsp yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
FOR THE FILLING
- 1 tbsp salt
- 400 grams feta
- 400 grams chopped greens (beetroot leaves, spinach or a combination)
- lemon juice to taste (optional)
FOR THE DOUGH
- Warm the milk up to 35 C and dissolve the yeast in it for about ten minutes.
- Put flour, salt, and sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Add the milk/yeast and egg and combine to make a dough.
- Turn out onto a surface and knead for about five minutes.
- Cover and place in a warm spot for two hours.
- After two hours, divide the dough into four equal portions, wrap in cling film and let sit for another ten minutes.
FOR THE FILLING
- Chop the greens up and add the salt. Combine and let sit for a good half an hour.
- Strain to get rid of the extra liquid then mix with the feta. Add lemon juice if using.
- To make the Khachapuri take a portion of the dough on a floured surface and flatten it with your hands into a large circle measuring about 30 cm.
- Place 1/4 of the filling in the middle of the circle and start bringing in the edges of the dough to the centre of the circle, folding the dough together as you work your way around the circle. Pinch to seal.
- Carefully flatten the dough with your hands until you have a circle almost as large as the original.
- Heat a pan on medium heat, brush with butter and place the Khachapuri inside.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes, then carefully flip and repeat.
- Cool on a wire rack so that it stays nice and crisp.