How to make Khachapuri like a Georgian

How to make Khachapuri like a Georgian

Khachapuri, is iconic; a “cheese-boat”, baked with gooey cheese, a creamy soft-cooked egg, and molten butter. A dish that proudly hails from the country of Georgia that has found it’s a new fan base in the United States. Tear off a piece of chewy, freshly baked bread and dip into the eggy, cheese filling.  A dish that can only be eaten with your hands is the definition of, lip smacking, finger licking good.  

This afternoon I had the pleasure of participating in a Georgian cooking workshop hosted by the Young Ambassadors of Georgia in Philadelphia PA. Within the last 10 years, this Greater North East neighborhood, that used to be referred to as little Russia, has seen a greater inflow of other post-soviet era nations. Many wonderful ethnic restaurants and groceries have popped-up over the years revitalizing the community and cultural landscape of this once predominantly Russian neighborhood.  Including several Uzbeky and Georgian restaurants that now proudly call the Greater North-East home. 

One such restaurant is The Georgian Bakery and Cafe .
“Georgian Bakery & Café started from a love of food and a passion to share the Georgian culture with those around us. Family-owned and operated, our restaurant will make you feel right at home with a Georgian’s love for guests and our hospitality. Our desire to spread Georgian tradition has brought the Northeast Philadelphia community closer together.”(georgianbakerycafe.com)

Today with the Young Ambassadors of Georgia, the Bakery and Cafe was gracious enough to take us into their Kitchen and show us how to make the famous Georgian Cheese-Boat, Kachapuri.  Khachapuri has been made in the country since ancient times. Although our host, Tato, was not familiar with its exact origin, he mentioned that its possible that Khachapuri could have originated in Turkey’s Trabzon region,  which used to be part of Georgia. Tato, explained that Khachapuri is a very regional dish and each of the 7 regions of Georgia have their unique variations (Future research project.) Today we were making the Acharuli Khachapuri (sunny side egg on top) from the Adjara region of Georgia.

The Dough

The dough is a yeast leavened bread dough, is kneaded for at least 6 minutes, according to the chef.  This dough is used to make several styles of bread including Khachapuri and Lavashi. The Lavashi bread is made in a  Georgian Tone, a kiln-like stone oven similar to a tandoor oven of India. Fresh dough is stretched over a pad and stuck directly to the side of the ripping hot tone.
You can buy a huge freshly bakes Lavashi for only $2.50 at the Georgian Bakery and Cafe making it a Frugal Foodist Favorite. Khachapuri, however, is made in a convection oven, to preserve its delicious fillings. 

The Filling 

Traditionally, Acharuli Khachapuri filling includes Georgian cheeses, Imerali and Sulguni. These are difficult to obtain in the USA, the chef substitutes mozzarella and feta cheese for the filling. Grated cheese is mixed with eggs and butter which helps the cheese retaining moisture during making to achieve a creamy consistency in the final product. 

Assembly and Baking 

Approximately 500 grams of dough is rolled out into a circle and filled with one and a half cups of cheese mixture. Two ends are brought together and folded to create the boat shape. Check out the video of the Chef assembling Khachapuri below. 

The Acharuli Khahapuri is then placed on an un-greased sheet tray  and popped into a 450-degree convection oven. The bread is cooked for a total of 10 minutes, 4 minutes without the egg, 6 with egg on top. Once you add the egg, shake the tray, rotate, and top with a few pats of butter. Continue to cook,  6 minutes more and Voila! 

*Note* The above method works well for a professional convection oven. The recipe that follows makes a few modifications to accomodate a conventinal home oven. 

The Eating 

Eating this the best part obviously. At first, minding our manners, we all reached for the  knife and fork. Thankfully our Young Ambassadors were on hand to show us the way.  The traditional way to eat Acharuli Khahapuri is to first mix the egg and cheese in the center of the boats with a fork. Next, starting from the outside corner, tare a piece by hand and dip into creamy, buttery. cheesy, eggy, filling.  Check out my mom eating her Acharuli Khahapuri. 


“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” -Paul Prudhomme

But the experience is not complete without a home made Pinot Noir Rose. Although not well known in the United States, in Eastern Europe, Georgians are famous for their wines. Grapes grown in the warm climate of Georgia produce fruity and robust wines, rich with red and black fruit aromas that will delight a novice and expert wine lover alike. 

I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to the hard working team of Georgian Bakery and Cafe, Tato our gracious host and the rest of the passionate and engaging youths of the Young Ambassadors of Georgia program. Thank you for putting this together and sharing your food, wine, culture and friendship with the Frugal Foodist. 

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Acharuli Khachapuri

Course Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish, Snack
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 Servings

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 2/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil plus more for greasing and brushing
  • 1.5 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/4 tsp Sugar

Filling

  • 3 Cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese 12oz
  • 1 1/4 Cups Crumbled Feta Cheese 8oz
  • 2 each Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, grated

Garnish

  • 2 Each Eggs
  • 6 Tbsp Butter

Instructions

To make the dough

  1. Add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil and 2/3 cup of warm water (90F) to a standing mixer fitted with a bread hook attachment. Mix on low until ingredients are combined and the mixture resembles like a shaggy mess. 

  2. Increase mixer speed to medium and knead the dough for 6 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Allow rising in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in size. 

  3. In the meantime preheat your oven to 500F.  

To make the filling

  1. Combine cheeses with eggs and grated butter, mix thoroughly and set aside in the refrigerator until ready for use. 

To Assemble

  1. Divide the dough in half. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with a little flour and roll each piece into a 12 inch round.

  2. Divide the cheese mixture equally and evenly spread over the dough all the way out to the edge leaving about 1/4 inch seam.

  3. Imagine your dough divided into quadrants. First, bring the top two sections together pinching them closed. Next bring the bottom two parts together, pinching them closed. There should be ample open space in the middle and your bread should resemble the shape of a rowboat. Then fold in the middle edges slightly, about 1 inch, to create a barrier for the cheese. 

  4. Move the cheese boats to a sheet tray, brush with a little olive oil or egg-wash and bake for 15 minutes.

  5. After 15 minutes remove open the oven and carefully crack open one egg over the cheese filling. Give the sheet tray a little shake to help the egg settle. Add 3 Tbsp of butter around the egg and place back into the oven. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. 

  6. Serve Immediately. 

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