Aug 17, 2009


(If you don't love cheese, this post is not for you. Sorry.)

When God was distributing portions of the world to all the peole of the Earth, the Georgians were having a party and doing some serious drinking. As a result, they arrived late and were told by God that all the land had been distributed. When they replied that they were late only because they had been lifting their glasses in praise of Him, God was pleased, and gave the Georgians that part of Earth He had been reserving for Himself. (from here)

I was first introduced to khachapuri at a dinner party that led to a the consumption of large volumes of rooibos, analysis of the Pretoria sex industry, a highly unproductive next day at work and other similarly good things. That was a long time ago. Then I was reminded about it recently, and with a friend's birthday barbeque as excuse, I made it myself.

It is a traditional Georgian (the country, not the period) bread, which comes in many varieties - all usually stuffed with something. Of particular interest, is the one stuffed with cheese. The boat-shaped Ajarian khachapuri, which is also filled with cheese and then topped with a raw egg also looks interesting. I was vaguely following Nigella's recipe, but often conflating it with several others. Then there is this video showing someone who has obviously done it before, that left my inspired. And as the combination of the two great loves in my life, namely bread and cheese, there is very little that can go wrong...

You need a lot of cheese. A lot. And different types, to mimic a Georgian mountain cheese which neither I nor you will probably ever taste. I used some mozarella (for melting), a bit of halloumi (texture), beyaz peyneri (a Turkish cheese that is almost like feta, for flavour) and some mild cheddar (in the foolish belief that I needed more bulk). It was more than 800 grams of cheese. Yes! I don't think I have ever used this much cheese anywhere, ever. Ever. The cheeses are grated, mixed by hand with an egg and chopped herbs - lots of fresh oregano in my case, with a good scoop of paprika too. Taste it (before adding the egg, if you're trained to believe that). Amazing? Of course!

Then a dough: 3 cups flour, 2 eggs, salt, 2 teaspoons soda and 2 cups yogurt, because a bit more dairy at this stage won't make a difference. Mix and knead briefly - the dough should be smooth and soft. Divide into halves, roll one part into a disk, about 5mm thick. Scrape the filling onto it, squashing it down thoroughly to form a disk of solid cheese, up to 2cm from the edge. Cheese. It is mesmerising. Cover with a similar disk, sealing the edges carefully. If you are doing a smaller one you could try to imitate the YouTube clip, especially the spinning part looks exciting. Some people fry this in a dry pan on medium heat till golden, but I did not have anything big enough. So I joined the group whose grandmothers baked it. At 180C, for about 45 minutes or until it was golden. (Did I say it was huge?)

Served vaguely warm, oozing, no bursting with cheese. Super-rich, but worth it. Try it with wine.


Marie said...

Heilige koei.

arcadia said...


dis die laaste ding wat ek moet sien net na ek gaan draf het.

nou's ek rasend honger.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful..... and I love the story you strt with... I wish I could understand more of your posts but I am happy to have found you.