Chanakhi (Georgian Lamb and Eggplant Stew)

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Chanakhi1 lb boneless lamb shoulder, cut into small strips (save the bones for stock)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 large eggplant, cubed, unpeeled
6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups lamb stock (*see below the recipe)
5 cloves garlic, pressed
3 yellow waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed, or small salad potatoes, peeled (immerse them in cool water until ready to use)
1 tbsp khmeli suneli (**see below the recipe)
1 dry cayenne pepper
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
3 tbsp cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste


Braised cabbage with potatoes

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cabbage24 cups pale green cabbage, julienned
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup water or cooking stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil

1. Saute the onion in oil until soft and yellowish-brown, about 25 minutes.

2. Add the cabbage, saute while stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.

3. Add liquid, adjust the seasonings, and arrange the potato slices over the cabbage. Reduce the heat, cover and let cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

4. Mix the potatoes into the cabbage, adjust the seasonings, cover and let cook 5 more minutes.

5. Sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving, if desired.

Cepelinai (Stuffed Potato Dumplings) with Creamy Horseradish Sauce.


Cepelinai“Zeppelins” are a Lithuanian specialty (not technically Russian, so sue me). Boiled dumplings are, in general, extremely popular in Central European cuisines. Jaroslav HaĊĦek, a celebrated Czech writer of satire, was a great aficionado, and mentioned a tremendous variety of dumplings in his unfinished novel “The Good Soldier Svejk”. The roster of dumplings made in this region is so great, this variety of food is hard to define, except as something boiled made from something starchy and incorporating bacon at some point. The Lithuanian cepelinai are giant potato dumplings filled with pork and dressed with either sour cream or some kind of a cream-based sauce and usually garnished with crumbled bacon. I chose to make a creamy horseradish sauce, whose sharpness complements potato dumplings particularly well, in my opinion.

Before we begin, there are a couple of things that make boiled potato dumplings tricky. First, grated potatoes tend to turn bluish-gray when boiled, so I add lemon juice to improve the color. Second, the only binding agent is the potatoes’ own starch and a small amount of starch added to the cooking liquid. (No self-respecting cook will “cheat” by adding flour or more starch to the dumpling mix.) For this reason, it’s important to use a starchy variety of potatoes, such as russets.

As you can see from the recipe, this is a labor-intensive dish, but you can make the task easier by preparing the pork filling and the sauce a day ahead. For the sauce, use fresh horseradish. Canned horseradish is usually cut with vinegar, and would make the sauce far too acidic.

And now, without further ado: More


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Autumn is here, and that means making borsch again. As is often the case with iconic ethnic dishes, no recipe is definitive. Every Russian family believes their borsch is the only right borsch, and broaching the subject on Russian cooking message boards can lead to some spectacular showdowns. Truth is, the recipe varies — depending on the region, the season and personal preferences.

However, there are certain basics that define a true Russian borsch. To begin with, the term refers to a category, not a specific dish. Any soup made from a fresh leafy vegetable is a borsch. Without qualifiers, however, the word describes a specific kind of borsch that has three main ingredients: cabbage, tomatoes, and beets. Other ingredients, as I’ve said, vary greatly — although whatever the variation, the ingredient list is typically long.

Most Russians are Orthodox, and historically, the observance of Lent was of paramount importance. This means that, while borsch typically contains meat, vegetarian versions are not unheard of. Kidney beans and/or mushrooms are typically added to Lenten borsch to enhance its flavor.

So here is my family’s recipe. A couple of things: do not add any sour cream during the cooking. Sour cream is added to individual bowls only at the table. Also, use the palest green cabbage you can find, the kind whose color actually tends more towards white or yellowish. Truly green cabbage leaves are too bitter and have to be salted and drained before cooking. More

Svekolnik (Cold Beet Soup)


This is a Russian summer favorite, perfect for lunch on a hot afternoon.

6 medium-sized beets
1 lemon, halved
1 large yellow potato, diced
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1 hardboiled egg yolk
2 tbsp pickled shredded horseradish
3 pickling cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup minced scallions
1/3 cup minced dill weed
3/4 lb bologna, diced (optional)
10 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream (optional)

– Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

– Clean and trim the beets. Take one of the beets, drizzle with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt, wrap in aluminum foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool, peel and dice.

– Peel and shred the remaining five beets.

— Bring water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and the shredded beets. Squeeze juice from one lemon half. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Take off heat, let cool, and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Strain before serving and discard the shredded beets.

— Combine the egg yolk with a pinch of Kosher salt, the horseradish and the juice of the remaining half of the lemon. Mash until smooth and stir into the soup. Adjust the seasonings

— Add diced potatoes, diced beet, chopped egg and diced bologna (if using) to the soup and serve.

— Serve the cucumbers, scallions, dill and sour cream separately.

Potato and Sardine Salad

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4 medium-sized yellow potatoes
6 oz canned sardines or sauries preserved in water, drained, deboned and broken up into bite-size pieces
2 dill pickles, diced
1 small onion, quartered and sliced very thin
2/3 cup canned peas, drained
2 tbsp minced fresh dill
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sunflower oil
salt and pepper to taste

– Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water with skin on until just cooked through but still firm enough for dicing, about 25 minutes. Drain, let cool until safe to handle, then peel quickly and dice. Dress the diced, still-warm potatoes with vinegar, cover and let cool to room temperature.

– Add the sardines, pickles, onion, peas and dill. Season to taste. Dress with sunflower oil and mix, taking care not to mash the potatoes or the fish.

This salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.