When we first arrived in Tbilisi we were cold, tired and hungry as a result of a long flight and very little sleep the night before. We stayed with a couple we met through couch surfing, and Natalia, our host, made us a really tasty dish, which she said would probably be called something like “Potatoes on the family way”. She said it usually gets made with meat, but as a vegetarian she makes it with mushrooms.
Mr and I both loved it, so as soon as we were settled into our own place, its the first thing I tried to cook.
Unfortunately, my version didn’t match the golden, crispy texture her’s had, so I wont be posting the recipe yet. For now, you get a photo of what my version-that-didn’t-quite-work looked like. I added chickpeas for protein, too.
I didn’t get a photo of Natalia’s version, because I had just met her, and felt like a dork.
The next dish I tried, again without success, was Eggplant with Walnut Sauce. I’ve seen photos on the net, and a number of recipes, and it looked fabulous. Unfortunately, I don’t actually have any blending/crushing/grinding implements in this kitchen, so my walnut sauce was more like walnut gravel, and I added too much vinegar, and my walnuts didn’t taste good, so the result was gritty, bitter and sour nastiness. I served it up with a pilaf that turned gluggy and a salad that tasted of slightly bitter cabbage and too much vinegar.
All in all, not my greatest kitchen success.
I don’t think I’ll try to make this again, as I don’t have the right gadgets, and the version of the sauce I can buy is fantastic and affordable. If you want to have a go at it, check out these recipes: Nami Nami’s recipe, Ashbury’s Aubergines, Sisauri’s version, and Tsai.
Happily, not everything has been a disaster. We have been enjoying a lot of really nice salads and soups made with my home made stock. At the moment, the vegetables we can get are limited to cucumber, cabbage, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower, the occasional capsicum, and some not-too-good tomatoes. We can always find a lot of fresh herbs, including parsley, coriander, mint, dill, spring onions, and tarragon.
My favourite salad at the moment is cabbage and cucumber, or Purple and Green Salad.
Purple and Green Salad
- 1/3 head of red cabbage, shredded finely
- 1 cucumber, sliced thinly
- 1 handful chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
- 1 small red onion, sliced very fine
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil
In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, cucumber, onion, half the mint, and all of the coriander.
In a small bowl beat together the remaining mint, sugar, vinegar, pepper and oil
Combine. Easy peasy.
If you don’t like the onion flavour you can leave it out or try this trick- before peeling or chopping, boil the whole onion for about 5 minutes. Cool, then slice as usual. It takes away some of the bite. I’m always boiling something, so I just pop it in with the pasta, potatoes or what have you.
My second favourite salad at the moment is Carrot and Cabbage.
Carrot and Cabbage Salad
- 1/3 head of green cabbage, thinly shredded
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 3 tablespoons sultanas
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a salad bowl.
The soup has been mostly a Russian cabbage soup or a Turkish red lentil soup both of which I’ll post about when I get to the Russian and Turkish weeks.