Tell me the truth. When you read Georgian, did you think the state of Georgia? If so, I got you:) Because this post is about the country of Georgia, Azerbaijan’s immediate neighbor.
Azerbaijani town of Balaken borders the town of Lagodekhi in Georgia. When I was a kid, my relatives, who live in Balaken, and I took a few trips down to Lagodekhi. My recollection of the town and of its food in particular is very limited as it was long ago but I remember the town itself as beautiful, green, clean and warm and I would love to visit there again. Next time I go, I’d love to see as much of Georgia as possible.
Georgian food is delicious. I know. I have sampled some of the country’s traditional dishes in Georgian restaurants in Baku. Azerbaijanis are familiar with and love Georgian cheese bread called khachapuri which is one of the most popular snacks sold on Baku streets and in many bakeries across the city. Although Georgian food is distinct in many ways (think lots of cheese and lots of walnuts), it shares similarities with Azerbaijani food. For instance, Georgian cooking incorporates the use of fresh ingredients in every dish, just like Azerbaijani cooking does, and in both the concept of freezing anything besides meat is almost non-existent.
In the following recipe for chakhokhbili, a traditional Georgian dish, too, for example, the key is to use the freshest ingredients available. Here, chicken is simmered down with the freshest ripe tomatoes (don’t be tempted to use canned tomatoes if you want to make this dish truly Georgian) and plentiful of fresh herbs, to yield the most flavorful and delicious meal. This Georgian dish is a staple in my kitchen as I make it pretty often. You will love it too, I am sure. Enjoy!
Georgian Chicken with Herbs (Chakhokhbili)
Adapted from “The Georgian Feast” by Darra Goldstein
Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
One 3-pound (1 1/2 kg) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
4 medium onions, peeled and chopped
8 medium tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Generous 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, tarragon, basil, dill)
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large skillet and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Stir in the chopped onions and cook for 10 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.
Add the prepared tomatoes and cook, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
Stir in the garlic, herbs, hot pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, covered, 5 minutes longer.
Let stand 5 minutes, covered, before serving.