It seems that every language, cultural or ethnic group who cook their food and have access to some sort of flour have their own version of the filling-filled pastry lump I know as a dumpling. Italy has ravioli, Russia has pelmeni and varenki, Poland has perogi, Azerbaijan has dushbere, Armenia has manti, Chile has pantrucas, China has jiaozi, Japan has gyoza, the list goes on.
In Georgia the local dough-filled-with-stuff-then-cooked dish is Khinkali.
Khinkali are very large in comparison to, say, a wonton, and about twice the size of a gyoza, or four times the size of Russian pelmeni. They are shaped into a knob, that looks a lot like one of those old-fashioned ice-bags for head-bumps.
They come hot, sprinkled with pepper, or plain. To eat khinkali, you hold it by the knob, and bite carefully (because broth comes out of the meat ones). You never eat the knob itself (it is dry and tough). I’ve heard tell that men line the knobs up on their plate as a evidence of their appetite, but as I mainly eat with Mr (not into manliness-affirming appetite displays) and women, I haven’ noticed this in real life.
Khinkali are usually filled with meat, of course, however a long tradition of religious fasting here in Georgia means that there are versions available that are made without meat or dairy. I have been able to buy them from the supermarket (although the flavour was a little like tinned mushrooms), have made some myself, and will soon (tonight I think) brave the language barrier and have some in a restaurant. (We’ve been taking a little holiday from being foreigners and tourists, and have not really done anything outside the house for a few weeks- It has been so cozy!).
There are many recipes for them online, but here’s what I did to make mine:
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 to 2 cups water
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups mushrooms, chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
- 1 tsp coriander seed powder
- by rights it should also have some dill – I hate dill, so I don’t know how much would be an acceptable amount.
- salt to taste
- Make the dough. I just mix water into the flour with my hands until it turns into dough. Scientific, I know. The dough needs to be fairly soft so it can stretch out. Leave the dough to sit on a floured surface for 30 minutes.
- To make the filling: heat the oil in a frying pan. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for another 5. Add Mushrooms, coriander powder, and pepper, and fry until mushrooms are cooked. Remove from heat and toss through the fresh herbs. Add salt to taste. Allow to cool.
- Roll the dough out to about 3 mm.
- Use a large cup so cut circles of dough. Fill each circle with filling, and pull the dough into a knot, twisting the top to seal.
- Once you have made all the khinkali you can freeze them for later, or boil or steam them immediately, and serve with cracked pepper.
I still need to work on my twisting technique, but I really enjoyed the flavour of my first home-made khinkali experience. They feel like a bit more work than my usual dumpling standby (usually jiaozi or gyoza), but they are also much bigger, and (if you get them right) look pretty impressive on a plate.
What kind of dumplings have you tried? Which are your favourite? I love the chive steamed dumplings, and basically anything fried.