Monday, January 23, 2006

please to the table

I'm trying to be grateful for how much time i have on my hands right now. It's kind of doing my head in having so little structure in my life but i know as soon as i get a job i'll be wishing i had more time for lying around, reading and cooking. So instead of moping - no actually, as well as moping - i'm living my life from a series of lists i made while i was travelling. There are pages and pages of them written up and stuck on my walls - things to research in the library, things to do right now, fun things, regular things, long term ideas and of course: things to cook.

The things to cook list is all the foods i dreamt of fondly while i was away and this walnut sauce was one of the first to make the list. "Walnut sauce?!?" everyone said yesterday when i pulled some out at the harvest festival. Ya huh. It's creamy without dairy, it's garlicky and it does something unexplainably sneakishly good.

I made this first for Chrismukkah 2004 from moro, which has the Turkish version called Tarator. Then I noticed a Georgian version in my new cookbook, Please to the table so I thought I'd try that. Please to the table says that at any good Georgian party you'll get at least three vegetables dressed with this sauce. They're called pkhali. I love it with roasted eggplant, or green beans or even thinned down on cucumber. It's also meant to be good with beetroots which i'll be trying very very soon. The main thing is to make the sauce 6 to 8 hours ahead so the garlic flavour settles and to serve it at room temperature.

Walnut sauce, georgian style
3/4 cup walnuts
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsps coriander leaf finely minced
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
pinch cayenne
1/4 tsp fenugreek
1 1/2 tbsps white wine vinegar
3 tbsps water or more

Pound the garlic up in your trusty mortar and pestle. Add the walnuts and dry spices and keep pounding till they're all mushed. Add the water and vinegar until you have a sauce and then stir the coriander through. Mix through your chosen vegetables and chill for 6 hours or so.

Eggplant pkhali made a great starter the other day with warm bread - until me and Sammy pigged out on it too much and couldn't fit in the delicious cold borscht I'd made. Just chop a big eggplant or two in half lengthwise, prick with a fork a few times and whack it on a oiled tray in a hot oven. Bake until it goes all wrinkly and the flesh is soft and browning. Scoop the flesh out and mix with the sauce, thinking all the time about how the phrase "scoop the flesh out" makes you feel a bit wrong and kinda good at the same time.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have been looking for this recipe everywhere! I really enjoy this site-someone else who loves food and travel, especially together!!

Nina said...
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