Khachapuri Chinchari – Georgian bread with cheese and nettles

I first met Nata in May last year on a wild food foraging walk at Treloan. Having spent an amazing 8 weeks in the Republic of Georgia (in Tbilisi & Mirzani) in 1998 on an artists residency, it’s always good to meet a Georgian here in the UK.

Nata lives in Falmouth, and as Rachel was giving us recipe suggestions for nettles we chatted about Khachapuri – the most delicious Georgian cheese filled bread.  Would she teach me how to make it & could we put nettles in the cheese filling? ‘of course’ she said  ‘already nettles are used in Georgia’.

so.. here we are making a version that’s egg free (due to my request as I don’t eat eggs), and pan cooked so that we can include the recipe in the Caravanserai  discovering what’s on our doorstep ‘guidebook’ for Treloan visitors.

Nata Bukia-Peters shows us how to make Khachapuri (pronounced ‘hatcha puri’ – khacha is Georgian for curd cheese and puri is bread) notetaking by Alyson Hallett & camera by yours truly (annie).

In Georgia there are many ways of making Khachapuri, the best version according to Nata is made with yeast (a normal bread dough recipe will work for that) but here we are using baking soda as its quicker in a camping situation – in Georgia Khachapuri is thought of as a fast food.

ingredients:

cheese 300g mozarella, 400g feta
(in Georgia they use imeruli a fresh crumbly cheese mixed with sulguni a layered cheese with a stretchy texture like mozarella)
plain white flour 750g
nettles (in Georgian chinchari)): half a carrier bag of young plant tips, not too stalky- use gloves and scissors to harvest.
spinach or beetroot greens can be used instead of nettles
margarine 3 tablespoons
bicarbonate of soda 2 level teaspoons
yoghurt 500g

1. wash nettles and dry them in a tea towel (wrap and shake vigorously) or use a salad spinner

2. grate cheeses and mix together

3. heat yoghurt in pan to room temperature, take off heat and mix in flour to get a doughy texture (not too wet)

4. flour a wooden board and knead dough with hands to form a round ball, roll into a flat circle (half inch thick – the thinner the better) sprinkle a third of the baking soda on to the rolled dough followed by a tablespoon of margarine smeared over the round, fold the dough (right into the middle, left into middle, bottom into middle, top into middle and roll out into circle again – repeat the process 3 times.

5. return folded dough to the pan, cover with a cloth and put in fridge or coolbox for 15 mins minimum (the longer the better – till the next day would be best)

6. break up or chop the nettles and mix with the grated cheese, Nata says a nettle sting is good for you as it makes your blood move faster

7. take a quarter of the dough and make into a ball, dust with flour and roll out

8. put a generous handful of the nettle/cheese mix into the middle and draw up the edges, fold to the centre and flatten (its ok for it to be open in the middle)

9. place in heated heavy frying pan / griddle (or on barbecue), brush with oil, cover with a plate and cook on low heat checking every so often and turning once browned.

10. slice, share and enjoy

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