Dishes of Mountainous Racha
is one of the most beautiful and distinctive places in Georgia. One article is not enough to fully describe it.
The region is located in the north-eastern part of western Georgia, in the valley of the river Rioni and its tributaries. Oni
are the municipalities
Historically and geographically Racha is divided into three parts: Mountainous Racha, Upper Racha, and Lower Racha. The area around the village of Tsesi is considered to be the dividing line between Upper and Lower Racha.
Racha, like almost every region of Georgia, needs a deep and specific introduction. That can refer to its nature, historical monuments, cuisine, or typical customs of Rachvelian people.
As a person born and raised in Tbilisi, I feel sorry that I can not speak in the Rachveliani dialect. Listening to my aunts and other Rachvelian people, it is impossible not to feel sorry for that. They call everything differently and change the names of objects in a way to express their fondness, whether it is an animate or inanimate object, child, water, chair, or tree ... I promise I will write a separate article about the Rachvelian dialect. And now I want to guide you to Rachvelian cuisine. Let's get acquainted with the dishes, that you most likely won't be able to taste in Tbilisi, or if you taste them, they won't have the taste, aroma, and look, that the food prepared by native Rachvelian, with his own hands and natural products.
Delicious Foods In Racha You Should Try
I will start the list of typical soups of Mountainous Racha with Rachvelian Khavitsi, which is one of the specific and even daily dishes of Rachvelian people.
As you know, erbo (boiled butter) is made of butter, and for Khavitsi, we need the part that stays at the bottom while boiling erbo. After the boiled erbo is filtered, a white precipitate remains at the bottom, which is called "peri" in Racha. Little salt and flour are added to the peri, boiled on low heat, and the Khavitsi is ready. The dish is eaten with bread. It is nourishing and is eaten quite often in families.
You will agree, it is a very strange name. You might never think it is a name of a dish.
So, I will tell you how this strange dish is made.
Specially prepared cottage cheese, which is prepared in mountainous Racha, goes well with Tskaldashmula. The cottage cheese, which is pressed by heavy objects from above, is stored in a large container for the winter. To prepare the Tskaldaskhmula you will need 1-2 pieces of mchadi, one spoon of erbo, and a few tablespoons of cottage cheese. You will pour boiling water into them, and when the mchadi is dipped in this juicy substance and, the cottage cheese is mixed with it, the dish is ready.
By the way, this dish is known only in the village of Ghebi.
Qalakoda (Arum orientale)
Qalakoda is a plant from which the pkhali is made. Visually it is a deciduous plant and looks like spinach. It is grown in the woods and its season is the end of May. After picking the qalakoda, the Rachvelian people plait it like a woman's braid, dry it in the sun and store it until winter.
The pkhali of qalakoda is prepared in the following way: dried qalakoda is sliced up with scissors, then the water is poured, and placed on heat; while cooking a little flour is added, and the dish is ready. In the end, salt is added, and tkemali also goes well with it.
This sauce is known in Ghebi and Gona.
Machkvinara is a variety of mushroom that is found both in the field and on the tree during the August rains. It is a light reddish color. You can prepare it as soon as it is picked, or you can dry it and keep it in jars for the winter.
Machkhvinara is prepared in two ways in mountainous Racha: one way is boiling, and the other is roasting-stewing.
- In the first case, it is boiled first, then it is tenderized with a wooden spatula; during boiling, garlic, salt, a little erbo, and cold milk are added and, a juicy dish is ready. The sour cream goes well with it too.
- The second option is to move the boiled mushroom in a dry condition (without juice) to the pan, fry it, preferably in erbo, and add herbs and garlic.
Machkvinara is very tasty prepared in both ways!
Jorma is a tail fat of sheep wrapped in the rumen.
So, the rumen is washed thoroughly. We cut it in slices. Then we wrap the raw tail fat in slices, like in cabbage leaves, seasoned with herbs and garlic. It is wrapped like a tolma. The thread is wound around it so as not to break apart, and boiled in a large cast-iron pot. When it is ready, it is cut before serving.
You may have heard about nettle pkhali. In the cities, this plant is not used as food, though in Racha it is very popular and, as the locals say, it is very delicious. The nettle is picked in spring because by summer it will be old. Only the heads of it are cut with scissors, not the stems, cause only the leaves are fit for eating, which are boiled and then pounded. After pounding it must be boiled again. Mint is a necessary ingredient for seasoning. It is served with bread.
Dishes From Pig Intestines
Pig intestines are practically used in mountainous Racha, and we will introduce you to the two ways of preparing them.
First, they should be thoroughly washed, then boiled well, then cut into small pieces and, salted, stored in cans like canned food. In winter, they are warmed up on a pan, and seasoned, mostly with garlic. On the table, it goes well with ajika or any other sauce.
Mostly the dish is prepared while the pig is slaughtered.
The second dish made with pig intestines is Baduri. Pig intestines should be thoroughly washed, inflated, and tied from both sides. Rachvelian people leave it in such condition to dry. After it is dried, the thread from the ends is removed. In such a way, it keeps the shape. Then this inflated empty thing is filled with the following stuffing: fried or boiled meat, maybe both together. The inflated intestines are filled with ground meat. Along with the ground meat, the krichkhoni is also put in the intestines, which the Rachvelian people call the fat, released during the roasting of meat, and the fried remains, left on the pan. In the end, different condiments are added to the dish, such as salt, red and/or black pepper, etc. The intestines filled with this stuffing are stored in a cold, dry place. It is served at any time in the winter, just heat up on a pan and, that's it. It goes well with bread and tkemali.
Bread from Ghebi
It may seem that everything about the baking of bread is already well-known, however, if you visit Racha and feel the completely different taste of bread, you should know that this is because of the natural yeast we will talk about below.
There is such a shrub in mountainous Racha called Sve, and like a tkemali tree in the flowering season, this shrub also blooms in spring. The ears of these flower buds are picked in summer. They are being boiled, pressed and after they are dried, mixed with the flour, and small balls are made. After that, they are stored to dry out and, after dehydration, are kept as yeast. It can be stored for months.
Before baking the bread, first, the warm water is poured into yeast to thaw these dried seeds with the following proportion: 1-2 balls for 1-2 kilos of flour. Then it is well wrapped and left in the heat until the morning to rise well. In the morning, flour, warm water, and salt are added and, the dough is kneaded. About 30 loaves of bread are baked with this proportion. The people from Ghebi have their bread forms, which are quite large and capacious, round in shape, and to give you an accurate picture, it looks similar to the shape of a cake "tart". They also have a rectangular, long shape. The bread of this shape is called "Bukhanka". Before putting the dough, the forms should be warm and oily. Rachvelian people love to bake a lot of bread because, as they say, it is very tasty and is in high demand. Their ovens are also large and capacious, so it is impossible to bake little bread. In winter, especially many loaves of bread are baked because this bread is stored well.
Plants of Mountainous Racha
In addition to the listed above, the edible herbaceous plants are also found in the villages of mountainous Racha. They are peeled like bananas and eaten raw. They are grown in the high mountains in the spring when the snow melts.
These plants are:
I have visited Racha only twice, once - in childhood, the second time - as an adult. I remember from childhood the pancakes of aunt Nazi, similar to which I have not tried anywhere. My mom could not bake them either.
Rachvelian people make pancakes with Matsoni, 2-3 days after it is soured, and bake them on a pan in lard. Pancakes prepared with this method are very soft, fluffy, and taste amazing. The rest of the ingredients are common: eggs, flour, soda. I still remember those delicious and beautiful pancakes. Yes, yes, beautiful. I think no one has said that pancakes are beautiful. Rachvelian pancakes are exactly like that. Trust my visual memory!
Besides the grape, black cranberry is also used to make wine in Mountainous Racha.
Cranberries are harvested in autumn, at the end of October. It grows and blooms only at the foot of Chanchakhi mountain, as shrubs or as plantations.
Wine is made in a standard way, mostly in Ghebi and Oni.
And of course, the well-known Shkmeruli, Lobiani (Georgian bean-filled bread) that Rachvelian people call "Bachuli" and the famous Rachvelian ham.
Rachvelian ham is very delicious both boiled and fried with the potato, which fries in ham fat and gives a different taste to the dish called - Ojakhuri.
It is known that Rachvelian people are very fond of Rachvelian ham and beans, and the combination of these two works very well too. They often add the ham to the bean during boiling, and they are boiled together.
Nothing to say about the taste. The flavor and aroma of beans cooked and seasoned with ham are unforgettable. Just for them, it is worth heading to Racha on this beautiful road and tasting it all yourself.