This month I wanted to highlight the food of Georgia. This tiny nation east of the Black Sea mixes some of the best influences of Asia and Europe to create its cuisine. Famous dishes include the khachapuri (brick oven bread filled with cheese), lobio (a type of bean stew), khinkalli (delicate dumplings). One of the most appealing aspects of their cuisine is the use of fresh ingredients such as pomegranate, tarragon, cilantro, and parsley. I’ll be posting one recipe a week in February.
A couple years back in Brighton Beach Brooklyn a brick oven bakery called Berikoni opened up. In addition to the famous cheesy breads, person after person ordered a mysterious spinach concoction. I left with a half pound and was not disappointed. The fresh spinach gives it a wonderful earthy quality. Vinegar provides a tang and walnuts impart the underlying nuttiness.
For making it at home, I followed the recipe from Anya Von Bremzen’s “Please to the Table.” This phkali tastes for you’ll feel like you can lift a car like Popeye. It’s delicious eaten with tortilla chips, crackers or any type of soft bread such as pita. Note that some versions use a blender but coarser is traditional. Note that to keep more of the nutrients the greens were steamed instead of wilted. Also note that it will taste great when first made but chilling helps the flavors to mix.