At the table, it is easy to distinguish a real Georgian from a stranger by who eats khinkali in the same way
Anyone who has been familiar with this dish since childhood will never spill the broth and drop pieces of minced meat on the table. Eating khinkali is a real art. Devices cannot be used. You need to hold the khinkalina with your hand by the heaps – a tail of dough that fastens it from above. First, they carefully bite the dough from the side, drink the spicy liquid through the hole, and only then proceed to the filling with the dough. And heaps -a bundle of dough -are left on a plate and then thrown away.
Khinkali is the only dish in Georgia that you can not eat to the end. For the ponytail, a hop-hop plastic clip appeared this year, which allows you to eat the dish without burning yourself. An excellent tool for foreign guests, but Georgians themselves are unlikely to use it.
Judging by the fact that no plates or cutlery are needed for khinkali, this dish is very ancient. There are many legends about its origin. They say, for example, that khinkali appeared after battles with the Persians in the 18th century: supposedly after these battles, a special dish of minced meat was prepared for wounded soldiers.
It seems that khinkali is much older. If you look at them from above, then khinkali resemble the sun with divergent rays, which are formed by folds of dough. Borjgali looks the same way – the oldest Georgian solar symbol denoting fertility. Perhaps, khinkali served as a gift to the gods even in pagan times: the highlanders brought this dish to chapels to appease Morige -the supreme deity and Mzekali -the goddess of the Sun.
The meaning of the word “khinkali” remains unknown. Scientists are trying to find family ties with the Avar khinkal. A dish with this name is prepared in neighboring Dagestan and Chechnya. For him, they also use meat and pieces of dough, only boiled separately.
One thing is clear: khinkali were born high in the mountains, in the historical regions of Tusheti, Pshavi and Khevsureti, bordering Dagestan. Even today, getting to these areas is quite difficult, and in winter they are still inaccessible. At such a time, grain and meat become the main food products for local residents. You can roll out the dough in the mountains simply on a flat stone, chop the meat for the filling with an ax or a dagger, collect water in a mountain stream, cook khinkali on a fire in a kvabi cauldron and eat with your hands.
A native of the city of Kaspi and a chef tells how to eat khinkali and what to drink at the same time
— The right khinkali should be a lot of meat?
– Dough and meat should be equally divided. The dough is made smooth, plastic, and minced meat, on the contrary, is loose. He shouldn't be lumped together. Before cooking khinkali, take it by the knot and turn it over so that the dough is soaked with meat juice on top. Then dip into boiling water. Seasonings and sauces for khinkali are not required. Previously, minced meat was simply salted and hemp seeds were added to it. Now they are being replaced with coriander seeds. Fillings can be not only meat, but also with nettle, spinach, mushrooms, cheese, potatoes. But fish and chicken do not make good khinkali, because their protein inside quickly folds during cooking and tasteless lumps appear. Only in Tianeti they make khinkali with duck.
— Where should you try this dish?
– In Tbilisi, khinkali is prepared in many cafes and restaurants, but for my taste, the best ones are made in sakhinkle (khinkali) on the Tbilisi-Mtskheta highway. Here they are molded with soul. And the size of khinkali here is many times larger than the city ones.
– Khinkali should be washed down with red wine?
– No way! Khinkali goes well with chacha (grape vodka), arak (homemade moonshine) or strong homemade beer – in mountainous areas it is brewed from barley, corn or fruits.
The dough for khinkali is well kneaded and rolled into a thin layer. Girls learned to sculpt khinkali from an early age, practicing the art of firmly and beautifully fastening a knot, quickly forming folds (in Georgian they are called naochi – “wrinkles”). According to tradition, khinkali should have at least 17 folds, and ideally 28.
Here is how the traveler Zinaida Richter described the preparation of khinkali in 1923 in her book “In Sunny Abkhazia and Khevsuretia”: “The whole family, not excluding men, begins the sacred act – preparing dinner. The owner himself, choosing the fattest piece of lamb from a wooden trough, prepares minced meat. Women knead the dough and roll it into thin cakes, which are passed to the men. They put minced meat in the dough and make pies that look like Siberian dumplings. The table replaces the kind of bench where an old pshavka woman arranges jugs of araka and dishes with steaming dumplings, which are eaten with a spicy seasoning of crushed garlic. Knives and forks are not allowed, they eat with their hands. The women dine separately.”
If you are going to experience the generous Georgian hospitality, remember some simple rules. You always need to leave the guests a little staggering (even if you are sober as glass). So you will demonstrate to the owner that you are full and satisfied. And in parting, do not forget to wish “joy and fun to this house.”
For how many servings: 1 serving – 10 pcs .
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Calorie content per 100 g: 234 kcal
For the test:
Premium flour — 500 g
Salt — 10 g
Cold water — 170 ml
For the filling:
Medium-fat lamb meat – 400 g
Onion — 150 g
Fresh hot pepper — 1 pc.
Ground black pepper — 5 g
Salt< /strong> — 7g
Coriander Seeds — 2g
Fresh cilantro and parsley — 20 g
Cold water — 150 ml
Pour the dough into cold water. Put it in a vacuum dish for 15 minutes. Then knead until smooth. Cut the finished dough into pieces of 50 g and roll into circles 1.5 mm thick.
Finely chop the meat, herbs, onions and peppers (minced meat for real khinkali should be chopped). Mix all ingredients and season with salt. Gradually pour cold water into the minced meat. Mix well for a couple of minutes.
Place minced meat in the center of each circle of dough. Take the circle by the edge and connect with the opposite to make a fold. Holding the glued edges and moving the dough clockwise, add new folds (there should be at least 17 folds in total), move the dough clockwise. Connect all the folds from above into a neat knot.
Pour 3–3.5 liters of water into the pan. Boil. Salt well. With a slotted spoon, lower the khinkali into boiling water one at a time and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Take out and serve immediately, sprinkled with black pepper.
Photo: Grigory Polyakovsky
The material was published in the magazine “Around the World” No. October 10, 2018