July 15 to 25 - Here's what's cooking.

posted 2 Aug 2016, 07:09 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 3 Aug 2016, 11:42 ]

July 15 to 25 - Here's what's cooking.

Shalom and thank you for the warm regards and comments.

About 50% of all the emails ask what do I serve my travelers at those times when I put on my chef's hat rather than merely running the tour.

Fair enough, let me cater to your curiosity.

The resources at our disposal enable us now, Baruch Hashem, to not only feed the most discerning kosher tourist abroad well but also let people sample the local food at its best and greatest variety.

All the more so in Caucasus, where the ingredients are fresh, full of flavour, readily available and very inexpensive.

When I board the bus to join a group, I will make sure to share a recipe for one or two local dishes a day (usually choosing the ones they will try for dinner). After the trip is over, they will receive a small brochure of recipes by email.

Welcome aboard. Rather than bore you with precise recipes, I much prefer to tease you with spoiler-like overviews.

Today on our agenda:

- Pkhali (traditional Georgian appetizers with spinach, beetstalks, chopped green beans, and other greens)

- Bozbashi (Azerbaijani mutton soup)

- Kubdari (flat meat pie from Svanetia)

- Churchkhella (Georgian traditional dessert, much loved by the mountain Jews)

Pkhali, an old Georgian favourite, is easy to make and does not demand a lot of time.

Briefly boil your greens, shock them in iced water, drain and chop finely. Add finely chopped walnuts, blitz-fried forest mushrooms in season, pepper, a whole bunch of those amazing Georgian spices that will make your pkhali both hot and mild, sweet, sour, tangy, salty and nearly tropical at the same time. Blend with a fork, form into balls and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds. Or, shape them into rolls wrapped in deep-fried strips of eggplant. Like that:


The bozbashi lamb soup is guaranteed to be a success with our crowd. The secret is to make sure you serve it at the end of a long day (ideally, somewhat rainy too).

Slowly cooked overnight with fresh lamb and chickpeas presoaked well ahead, it should only get the salt and the spices it requires at the very last moment. Even the potatoes, craftily cut into flower-shaped halves, won't come in till about 30 minutes before the end. Local freshly dried peppermint, red sumac, Aleppo pepper, and Azerbaijani red onion (remotely resembling shallots) will ensure a rich, enticing bouquet.

Update: the group finished the first pot in 20 minutes. We were sooo lucky to make 2 pots, and put the smaller one out first!


Kubdari is the mountain response to khachapuri, a cheese pastry that is prepared differently in each of the 16 regions of Georgia.

Flaky dough is filled with finely chopped beef or veal with onions, black pepper, some of that pretty hot Georgian adjika spice, a touch of garlic and a pinch of black pepper, closed in pocket-like manner, baked at approx. 200 C for about 20 minutes, and served straight from the oven.


Churchkhella (pronounced as choorch-hell-luh) is a sweet made by threading walnuts or whole hazelnuts on a string, then double or triple dipping them into thickened grape juice (sometimes with honey, always with spice), and hanging to dry in a sausage-like shape.


I know, such brief and dry descriptions give you no feeling of the actual abundance here; yet overall, we manage to serve more than 35 different dishes per day (yes, that does include bread and tea... but still).


Finally, the above message does not answer the question: where in the world is Rabbi Eli?

By the time you read this message, Rabbi Eli will be... in Warsaw! Do not worry; in a month, I'll be back in Georgia with another group, ready to tell you more about this exciting country, its customs, traditions, culinary peculiarities, and the inspiring story of the Georgian Jews.

Royal Castle Square, Warsaw  (20160802, 6:46 PM)


In front of the Great Judaica Library in Warsaw