I’m convinced that at some point in the distant past, some wrote a book (in Georgian – one of the oldest living written languages) about the wonders of walnuts, and how to make sure you eat them at every single meal. It must have been a best-seller, because really and truly, walnuts are in everything here.
But enough about walnuts.
Tonight I had another go at Lobio, or red beans, although this time I followed a recipe for a cooked version. This version is a sort of soup/stew/dip, made of onion, garlic, kidney beans, herbs and spices. I used suneli (a special Georgian spice made from the flowers of the fenugreek plant), dried mint, coriander seed, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, fresh coriander and fresh parsley. The recipe said to use raw garlic and onion, but MR is a bit of an alliumphobe, so I used roasted garlic and red onion.
It was warm and filling, but to be honest it just didn’t push my buttons like the salad version did. As kidney beans are the main source of vegetarian protein here in Tbilisi, I’ll probably try to make this again, though next time I think I’ll use raw garlic, and add more salt, more clove, and track down some fresh mint and dare I say it… dill.
The second part of tonight’s menu was stuffed eggplant. The main feature that separated this Georgian versionto all the other kinds of stuffed eggplant was the method of cooking – the eggplant with stuffing got simmered in a skillet for about 45 minutes, instead of being baked.
Sadly, this dish was also a little bland to my tastes, and I missed the oily, baked goodness I’m used to. The blandness could be because I only had kinda crappy tomatoes, or because I’m a salt-fiend. In any case if I make this again I will be using a little more salt, and maybe some nooch and lemon juice.
The saviour of the evening was the potatoes with walnuts, which is a very simple dish of boiled chopped potatoes, tossed with walnuts and fresh herbs. The original uses butter, I subbed olive oil. If you’re playing along at home, I would recommend using a butter substitute like vegan margarine for the flavour, although the olive oil was good.
I am a big fan of potato salads without mayo, so this was a winner for me.
On a tangent, I am very happy to say that as Christmas approaches, the shops have more and more “lenten” or “fasting” foods. Today I scored vegan cake slices, which we had for afternoon tea. At one lari a pop (about 70 cents), I’m looking forward to eating lots of these in future.