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About Georgia

from 30 April, 1999


Georgian Cuisine : MeatsKhinkali
Pickles and Preserves
Breads and Grains
Wines and Spirits

Note: This section is in update process


Khinkali are made with a variety of fillings. In the mountains the choice is usually ground lamb, since that is most readily available, but elsewhere the filling more often is a mixture of beef or pork. These dumplings may also be filled with cheese and/or greens. I tasted some excellent ones just North of Tbilisi in a town of Pasanauri. They tell it is the water. I always loved my grandmother's because she had "golden hands".

One trick to making good dumplings in to mix flour with warm water, which yields a more tender dough. Shaping the dumplings is also important, too, and takes some skill. Pleats are important. The idea is to make as many pleats as possible as you bunch the dough around the filling: anything less than 20 is considered amateurish.

Khinkali are served hot, with no garnish other that coarsely ground black pepper. And there is an art in eating them. The doughy top, where the pleats all meet, is never consumed, but used as a handle for holding the hot dumplings. I personally used to keep the tops apart after each dumpling, placed them aside, and after finishing off the dumplings, went to the cupboard and got my reliable bottle of soya, sprinkled it on the dumpling tops and ate them with chopsticks. The Georgians would turn over in their graves. But since I was born in China, I can get away with it. This way nothing was wasted.

If you do not finish all of the dumplings during one sitting, they are better the next day, fried in butter with yogurt for breakfast.

Makes 25 dumplings

4 cups of unbleached white flour 
1 1/4 teaspoons salt 
1 1/4 cups of warm water 
1 pound of mixed ground beef and pork (not too lean) 
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt 
Pinch or two of cayenne 
1/4 teaspoon of ground caraway seed 
3 small onions, peeled 
1/2 cup of warm water or beef bouillon

Combine the flour, salt and warm water to make firm dough. Knead for 5 minutes, then let it sit, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix the ground meats and spices. Grind the onions and stir them into the meat mixture. With your hands, knead in water or bouillon.

Divide the dough into 25 pieces. On a floured board, roll each piece out to a 6-inch round. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Make accordion pleats all the way around the filling by folding the edges of the dough in toward the center. Move in a clockwise.

Direction, allowing each fold of dough to overlap the previous one until the filling is completely enclosed in the pleated dough. Holding the dumpling firmly in one hand, twist the pleats together at the center to seal, breaking off the excess dough at the topknot.

Cook the dumplings in salted, boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.



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