Thursday, November 30, 2006

Georgian cheese bread: Hatchapuri/Khachapuri

Hatchapuri / Hatšapuri
Photo from April 2008

I - finally - made some hatchapuri. Hatchapuri, for those of you who don't know it, is a famous Georgian cheesebread. Somehow - not sure where I got the guts to do that! - I ended up wholeheartedly defending Georgian cuisine in general and hatchapuri recipe in particular over at Kuidaore during my very early blogging days. Il Forno's Alberto wrote about hatchapuri (or khachapuri, as he spells it) already in early 2004. More recently, my fellow Edinburgh blogger (until I moved back home, that is) Melissa so eloquently wrote about it on The Traveler's Lunchbox. There's a recipe in the latest Nigella book, as well as Darra Goldstein's almost scholarly book The Georgian Feast. This very cheesebread is positively 'in' at the moment. However, as both of these books of mine are still in sort of transit from Edinburgh to Tallinn and I won't get my hands on them until Christmas, then I had to look elsewhere for a suitable recipe. The simple recipe below is adapted from an Estonian food enthusiast who writes under the name of Volks Vaagen, who has got it from a Georgian lady called Natalya.

Now, before we proceed, remember that just like there are loads of different pizzas, there is a huge range of hatchapuri breads out there. The type and name of your cheesebread depends on where in Georgia you're trying to bake and/or eat it. There's Imeruli hatchapuri (flat, round bread, using imeruli cheese), Acharuli/Adjaruli hatchapuri (a suluguni cheese bread 'boat' topped with raw egg and then cooked; sometimes also referred to as Georgian pizza), Achma hatchapuri (a very rich and layered cheesebread) , Megruli hatchapuri (has cheese both inside and outside the bread), Svanuri hatchapuri (also known as chvishtar), Rachuli hatchapuri, Phenovani/Penovani hatchapuri (with a flaky pastry, formed as a triangle), Ossuri hatchapuri (filled with cheese and mashed potatoes), Guruli hatchapuri (thick and crunchy, with lots of cheese, formed as a log).
I'm pretty sure the list is not exhaustive (I'll report back when I compile a definitive list of various hatchapuris:)

You should really use imeruli/emeruli cheese or suluguni cheese for this recipe, although brynza cheese would work, too, as it is similarly salty. I used suluguni here. Suluguni is a whole milk cheese from Georgia (as in the Caucasus, and not in the US, obviously) , which can be grilled (I'm thinking of using suluguni instead of halloumi in the recipe for roasted red peppers with cumin-scented halloumi). Luckily, there's a considerable Abkhasian Georgian community in Estonia, and they've set up a small suluguni cheese factory in Kehra near Tallinn. It's not readily available in supermarkets, but you can easily buy that at local markets here. If you live in the US or UK, then try the Russian stores. Or see what alternatives Melissa and Alberto recommend.

I'm pretty sure it would be a fantastic accompaniment to Chakhohbili, the Georgian chicken stew with loads of herbs and wine. There's garlic in the cheese filling of this hatchapuri, which gave a real extra kick to the flavour. Feel free to leave it out, if you prefer a milder taste sensation.

Georgian cheese bread Hatchapuri
Yields 6 generous wedges.

For the dough:
250 grams sour cream
150 grams butter or margarine, melted
1 egg, slightly whisked
350 g plain flour (or a bit more, if necessary) (about 600 ml)
a pinch of salt
0.25 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar

For the cheese filling:
200 grams suluguni cheese, coarsely grated
1 egg, whisked
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (optional)

Mix sour cream and melted butter. Add salt, baking soda and sugar, whisk in the egg and add flour in installments. Knead slightly, until you've got a soft & pliable dough. Divide into two, roll each into a large circle (25 cm or so).
Grate the cheese, mix with egg, sour cream and chopped garlic.
Place one dough circle on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Spread the cheese filling on top, leaving about 1 cm from the edges clean. Cover with the other dough circle, press the edges firmly together.
Brush with egg or sour cream, pierce with a fork here and there. Bake at 200C for 20-30 minutes, until hatchapuri is lovely golden brown colour.


Anonymous said...

It looks delicous, Pille! It reminds me of a stuffed bread with feta and cottage cheese which we made at school many many years ago. I still have the recipe and I'm planning to do it pretty soon.

Anonymous said...

This bread looks wonderful!

Kalyn Denny said...

Looks fantastic. I hope you don't miss your cookbooks too much before they get there! I might have serious withdrawl symptoms without my cookbooks.

Anonymous said...

WOW! This looks and sounds incredible! I can't wait to try it!! Thanks, Pille! :)

Mrs. M. said...

Thanks for writing about hathapuri, Pille. I've had a lot of luck with Nigella's recipe that Melissa posted, but now I want to try yours. I'd like to try it suluguni cheese, too. I always used feta and mozarella in the past.

By the way, I made your curd cheese cake with apples for Thanksgiving, and it was excellent! Moist and yummy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, I'm definitely trying this version! It looks very good, and the addition of garlic is brilliant. Is that traditional?

also, your description of all the different variations on hatchapuri is fascinating - I wonder where I can possibly find recipes for them all?

As a side note, have you run across 'Please to the Table' by Anya von Bremzen? She has a good selection of Georgian recipes in there, along with other interesting ones from all over the former USSR. It's a goldmine of little-known cuisines (well, little known to ME! ;)

chili&vanilia said...

Dear Pille, what a great post!A couple of months ago I made the recipe from Nigella's book but unfortunately is was a disaster (I think I used the wrong flour). Then a reader pointed me to a Georgian restaurant in Budapest where I tried the real hachapuri. It was fantastic. I wrote about it, the restaurant then contacted me and promised to give me their recipe. In the meantime I might try yours! Thanks for the recipe!Zsofi

Anonymous said...

What a yummy sounding bread...I'd love anything with a cheese filling and with garlic even better :) I don't think I'll be able to find that cheese here but I see Yulinka has used feta and mozarella which is more available here...Thanks for sharing these thoughts of Geirgian cuisine, I would not have known about it if not for you and now I'm eager to know more :)

Anonymous said...

I eat Katchapouri every week. I think I am alone in Norway doing that. I have to admit it is slightly modified with bacon inside. As for Adjaran kachapouri it is a struggle to eat. The eggs really makes me want to...well you know :-)

Kachapouri for the people! Long live Georgian Kiychen!

Anonymous said...

Great job with your bread. Very cool!


thepassionatecook said...

this looks delectable! we have loads of delicious bread where i come from, but i've never seen a stuffed version. must try this soon... even though kneading is the job i least enjoy in the kitchen ;-)

Pille said...

Dagmar - sounds delicious, I'm looking forward to reading your post about it soon!

K & S - thanks!

Kalyn - believe me, I'm having bad withdrawal symptoms! Luckily I should have most of them by Christmas and a few extra by mid-January.

Michelle -you're welcome (in all senses of the word:)

Yulinka - very glad to hear that you liked the apple cake. Also, please let us know if you find a source for suluguni cheese in the US!

Melissa - I've got no idea whether the addition of garlic is traditional or not, but it certainly worked well! I'm still in the lookout for all those hatchapuri recipes myself, but here are recipes for adjar hatchapuri, atchma hatchapuri, and puff hatchapuri (?!?).
Thanks for the book reference - I haven't seen that one before.

Zsofi - sorry to hear that Nigella's recipe didn't work. Hope you'll have better luck with this one, and please write about the Georgian restaurant recipe soon (in English:) It's interesting to see all those different versions of hatchapuri.

Joey - I'm glad to hear that. Interesting to read how the feta and mozzarella combination works. As I can get the real thing here, I'm not sure I'm going to try the substitutes myself:)

Writer'n - well, I guess half-cooked eggs are an acquired taste. I'm quite sure I'd love adjar version myself. Must check if my local Georgian restaurant sells that one.

Paz - thank you!

Johanna - I quite enjoy kneading, though having a beautiful red KitchenAid now, I'll be doing less of that. But then, this bread didn't require too much kneading in the first place..

Jeanne said...

Oh good grief, this bread has my name all over it!! Like a giant, ethnic grilled cheese sandwich! :o) Seriously, although my bread-baking and kneading skills are non-existent, I would be willing to make the effort to produce this. Thanks for an interesting post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, just made this with the suluguni cheese you brought me! I used the garlic like you recommended, and it is SOOOO good. Much, much better than Nigella's version, and also much richer. In a way I'm glad I can't get the suluguni here, since if I could I would probably have to make this once a week at least. And considering how much of it I've just inhaled, well, that probably wouldn't be a good thing... :)

Anonymous said...

Forgot to ask - is the measurement for flour really 600ml and not 600g? I used 600ml and found I had to add a lot more to get it to a kneadable consistency.

Pille said...

Jeanne - I like your transcription of it as a "giant grilled ethnic cheese sandwich" :)

Melissa - so pleased to hear that you liked my hatchapuri and that you liked it more than Nigella's, especially as I like Nigella's recipes a lot. Quite a compliment:) And yes, I'm pretty sure the amount of flour is what I used - the components and quantities of the dough match the one I use for hortapita, so it's one of my 'staple' doughs. Maybe the characteristics of flours available in Estonia and UK are to blame? In any case, feel free to add as much flour as it takes to get a soft, yet kneadable dough.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

oh Pille this is such a great post and recipe. This reminds me of a similiar type of bread we used to get in Qatar at our fave Lebanese bakery. You really make it sound easy, so I think i will give this a go!

Sarah said...

In the end, khachapuri is basically a cheese-filled pie–the Pizza Hut stuffed crust that never was. It’s perfect winter food, ideal for cutting into big slices and sharing with friends.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

I'll try your recipe as the Georgian Feast recipe didn't seem right!