Georgian cuisine in the Soviet Union was perceived like French cooking in Western Europe; sophisticated, exquisite, generous. Both hugely desired and, well, envied.

Not surprising. The abundance of vegetables and herbs, grilled meats, liberal use of nuts, and accompaniment of  lush Georgian wine (many varieties are Unesco protected) make the food of Caucasians stand out from its (sometimes thought of as bland) Eastern-European siblings.

This recipe is my invention based on the flavours of Georgia. Lamb is the most popular meat in that region but this recipe works just as well with pork – stuffing! Here I use prunes and beetroot, but you can easily substitute for cranberries and parsnips. The Borodinsky crumble adds lovely texture and aroma (you can find this slightly sweet bread with coriander seeds in many Eastern-European shops or even some supermarkets these days but can replace it with any rye bread, just add more sugar, or omit all together). 

Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf, 8-12 slices)

For the crumb

2 slices Borodinsky bread, whizzed to crumb in a processor

30 gr walnuts, chopped

1 Tbsp of soft brown sugar

A little butter

For the beetloaf

2 small onions, chopped (about 200 gr)

1 clove garlic, crushed

400 gr pork mince

3 small beetroot, cooked grated (not the vacuum pack variety)

8 prunes chopped (about 50gr)

A little leftover cranberry sauce should you wish

1 Tbsp cumin ground

¾ Tbsp coriander seeds crushed in pestle and mortar

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

20 gr walnuts, chopped

Handful (about 20gr) fresh coriander, roughly chopped

5 Tbsp breadcrumbs (about 50 gr)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Method

  1. To make the crumb, fry the crumbs and walnuts in butter with sugar till they start to caramelise (about 10-15 mins, depending on quantities). Put aside to cool.
  2. Sweat onions in a little oil for 20 minutes or until soft and pale. Add garlic and sweat for another 10 or so minutes. If vegetables start to catch, add a little oil or a splash of water (I normally do both intermittently). Cool.
  3. Turn the oven to 180C.
  4. Whilst the mixture is cooking, mix well lamb mince with prunes, cranberries, cumin, coriander, chilli, salt, pepper, walnuts, fresh coriander, breadcrumbs, egg. Once the onion mixture is cooled, add that into the meat mixture.
  5. Prepare the bread tin by oiling it slightly and putting parchment paper in so that the loaf can easily be taken out once cooked.
  6. Boil a kettle of water (for the bain-marie).
  7. Transfer the meat mixture into the tin, even it lightly. Cover loosely with a piece of foil.
  8. Put the tin with the mixture into a larger tray, put the tray into the pre-heated oven and pour water into the tray.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes. Take out and remove the top foil. Turn the over to 200C. Sprinkle the rye breadcrumb on top liberally and return the tin into the oven for another 15 mins or so (until the internal temperature is at least 70C).
  10. Take out of the tin and eat hot or cooled down. Amazing enjoyed with grains such as rice, kisir, or best buckwheat. And of course a glass of Georgian wine.


Recipe provided by Russian Revels
Photo by Skånska Matupplevelser.