Two international students share a favorite recipe
Meet Edisher Uriatmkopeli and Levan Tsiklauri. Call them Eddie and Levan. These two junior business majors are from a Georgia half a world away.
They hail from Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia, the largest city in a mostly rural country, with a population of about 4.5 million.
Situated on the Black Sea, between Russia and Turkey, Eddie describes his people as “warriors.” Through more than 20 centuries and numerous foreign occupations, Georgia has managed to retain its cultural heritage and distinctive language. “There are only 14 alphabets in the world and Georgian is one of them,” Levan says.
The two, who have been best friends since childhood, wanted to study at an HBCU in America so they could experience something completely new. “I wish we could stay longer,” Eddie says.
During their semester-long stay on campus they have demonstrated their cooking skills and shared their efforts with lucky roommates and neighbors. “In Georgia, both men and women cook,” Eddie explains. “We grow up in the kitchen, helping our families. It’s a tradition,” Levan adds.
Because Georgia is rural and agricultural, their native dishes are easily made from locally sourced, organic ingredients. Their favorite to make and share (and eat) is khinkali, a type of dumpling that is a traditional staple in Georgian households.
“It’s not too difficult,” Eddie says. “But you may need to try it a couple of times to get it just right.”
With a large grin, Levan states: “And to be Georgian, make sure you eat it with your hands!”
Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) is a very popular Georgian dumpling made of twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat and spices. It is considered to be one of the national dishes of Georgia. Different regions of Georgia make khinkali with different fillings. The most popular filling is a pork/beef mix. In the mountains, khinkali is often made with a lamb filling. Fillings can also include Imeretian cheese mixed with cottage cheese, mushrooms and mashed potato.
Makes 30 khinkali
1.4 kilo / 3 lb flour
450ml / 15 ½ oz warm water
700 g / 1.5 lb ground beef / pork mix
½ tsp dried red pepper
¼ tsp ground caraway seed
2 small onions
17 oz water
Water and salt for cooking
Preparation of dough: Add 1.1 kilo of flour to a mixing bowl. Make a depression in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Add 450 ml of warm water. Mix the ingredients from the middle of the bowl until all of the flour is mixed. The dough should be formed into a ball. Divide the dough into two pieces.
Sprinkle a work surface and one of the balls of dough with flour and knead (very firmly) and fold the dough. Continue kneading and folding until the dough is very firm. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Cut out circles of about 2 1/2 inches in diameter with a drinking glass. Carefully remove the excess dough. Use a rolling pin to roll each circle into a thin eight inch round. These rounds will be filled with a meat and spice mixture to make khinkali.
NOTE: Repeat the whole process of kneading, folding and cutting and rolling of rounds with the remaining ball of dough. You will then have enough rounds to make about 30 khinkali.
Preparation of the filling: Add the meat, spices, 2 finely chopped onions (optional) and salt to a mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients by hand and then add 25 ml of water and squash and squash the mixture. Repeat this process 20 times until you have mixed at least 500 ml of water with the meat. This will ensure that your khinkali have lots of ‘juice’.
Making the khinkali: Take one round of dough from your pile of rounds. Add 1 heaped tbs of the meat mixture to the center of the round. Use your thumbs and index fingers to make an accordion type fold all around the outside. It will become easier with practice! 19 folds are considered to be ideal. Roll the nubbin of the dumpling between your finger and thumb and pinch off extra dough. Put each khinkali on a board or work surface that has been dusted with flour. Carefully place the dumplings into a deep pan of boiling salty water, about 10-15 at a time (depending on the size of your pan). Boil for 12 to 14 minutes. If the dough has been made properly the dumplings will not burst.
Serving: Khinkali are served hot with no garnish other than black pepper.
This article first appeared in Impressions, Fall 2016