Citizens, Ajapsandali is one of the most famous and delicious dishes of Georgian cuisine – and despite being vegan, is a huge favorite of the carnivore that is TFD! The name even translates into English as “how delicious you are!”
This post is part of TFD’s ongoing mission to showcase the complex flavors of the amazing country of Georgia, truly some of the finest on planet Earth! 🙂
Ajapsandali consists of eggplant, potato, tomato, bell peppers, onion, garlic, and herbs. Some variations of the dish also include potatoes and a touch of chili pepper (mine included).
This appetizer can be served either cold and hot, not forgetting the pita bread and fresh herbs. But in the process of making this simple dish, there is one small caveat – all vegetables should be cooked to the same degree of tenderness.
Be sure to fry peppers until soft, because if they stay crunchy, it will not fit into the overall soft and delicate texture of the dish. This also applies to the eggplants as well.
გემრიელად მიირთვი, Citizens! (gemrielad miirthvi – Enjoy Your Meal!)
Battle on – The Generalissimo
3 small eggplants or use Asian eggplant
3 sweet peppers, all different colors
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
2 carrots, ideally multi-colored heirlooms
3 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes
1 large onion
1 kg/2 ¼ pounds of tomatoes, ideally mixed multi-colored heirlooms
½ head of garlic, ideally a Georgian heirloom variety such as Chesnok or Metechi – buy from here
½ bunch of parsley
½ bunch cilantro
4 sprigs of purple basil or a mix of Thai Holy Bail and regular basil
⅛ cup minced fresh tarragon
½ teaspoon freshly ground coriander seed
½ teaspoon utsho suneli – ground blue fenugreek seed, buy it here. If unavailable, use regular ground fenugreek seed
½ teaspoon ground saffron threads
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the eggplant into cubes, cover them with salt and cover with cold water. After 1 hour, remove water and squeeze out any excess moisture.
Preheat the frying pan and fry the eggplant in oil until tender. Lay eggplant on paper towels.
In the same pan, reheat the oil and add more if necessary. Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes the same size as the eggplant. Fry until lightly crisp and remove to paper towels.
Cut the onion into small cubes, the peppers into strips and and grate the carrots. In the same pan, fry the chopped onion in oil until golden brown for 10 minutes. Add carrots and sweet/hot peppers and continue to fry everything on low heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Scald the tomatoes with boiling water, and then dip them in cold water to make it easier to remove the skin. Chop tomatoes.
Peel the garlic cloves and mash them with some salt into a paste. Add cilantro and pound or blend into the paste. Mix this with with the tomatoes and pound or blend thoroughly into a paste.
Combine all the fried vegetables in a pot over medium low heat. Stir and add the tomato mixture, along with shredded basil and parsley, salt, pepper, and spices.
Cook the dish for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool for half an hour.