Citizens, the love that the Crown Prince of the Caucasus – YOUR TFD! – has for His spiritual homeland of Georgia is both passionate and pure! It is for this reason that I have sought to maintain a unique repository of the best Georgian recipes in English (now 32 and growing!) that you will find almost anywhere on the Web.
As such, today I have descended from on-high to share an easy but totally delicious recipe from a particularly gorgeous part of Georgia – Racha! The Rachuli blackberry sauce is a variant of the classic Georgian Makvali blackberry sauce, but with different spicing – and today TFD Nation shall be apprised of its secrets!
Wild blackberries can be found throughout Georgia’s mountainous Racha region (Georgian: რაჭა) and the berries are used extensively in local cuisine. Blackberry sauce is used for special occasions and celebrations and it is one of my favorite sauces – tart, redolent with spices and a perfect foil for the blank canvas that is roast chicken.
As noted in this excerpted article from georgiantravelguide.com:
Racha is the historical-geographic site of Georgia that is situated in the north-east side of west Georgia. It is quite rich with cultural monuments and diverse nature. Racha is well-known with the masterpiece of Georgian architecture, Nikortsminda that is characterized with rich and sophisticated ornaments. In addition to the interesting cultural sites, you can enjoy chilly forests, alpine lakes, beautiful waterfalls and stunning views in Racha.
Racha is a region with a great history – the first traces of human life were found here in the Bronze Age! Culture is diverse and interesting in Racha, with its folklore, cuisine and traditions. Racha folklore is distinguished and many explorers mentioned it. Famous Rachuli songs are “Kvedvrula”, “Rashovda”, “High in the mountains” and so on. The folk poetry of Racha is also preserved. There are a lot of legends about the establishment of villages and the etymology of their names.
Racha is famous for carpentry. In many parts of Georgia, you can find unique houses built by the Rachvelebi (the people of Racha). These houses are characterized with beautiful decorations and ornaments. Rachuli cuisine is delicious and it attracts gourmets with its pot beans, Rachuli ham and Lobiani ( a bread with beans, Georgian traditional dish). The winemaking tradition is developed in the region, high-quality red wine, naturally semi-sweet Khvanchkara.
Racha is at 2000 m above sea level and the climate is humid, winters are cold and long, summers are short, warm and sometimes hot. There are many important cultural monuments in Racha from different periods. You can find magnificently decorated temples, interesting frescos, special patterns of Georgian architecture that harmoniously blend with beautiful nature of Racha. The fresh air, the waterfalls hidden in the greenery, the crystal clear alpine lakes, glaciers and lush meadows make it a real paradise and will leave adventure lovers speechless.
Unlike many Georgian recipes, this one can be quickly assembled – even more so if you choose to use this with a supermarket roast chicken! The Rachuli blackberry sauce is PERFECT with this dinner mainstay, or you can also quickly shallow-fry some flour-coated chicken breasts, a variant I heartily endorse.
The blackberries are best when fresh, but you can certainly use frozen blackberries if that is all you have access to. The Khmeli-Suneli spice mix is best made fresh, and my version is particularly resplendent and authentic, but this version sold on Amazon is also quite satisfactory.
For sourness, a true Rachuli would use verjus, the juice from unripe grapes that is less acidic than vinegar – and that is my preference as well. You can buy an excellent verjus from Amazon here. Worst case, you can just use lemon juice, but do try the verjus – once you sample its flavorful delights, you’ll use it throughout your cooking, I promise.
Citizens, this is a delicious recipe from an ancient and special place in the world – I hope that you enjoy it and consider visiting Georgia in the near future once the scourge of coronavirus is eradicated from our lives!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
- 1 roast chicken or 4 chicken breasts, coated in flour and shallow-fried
- 1 lb. blackberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
- 3 cloves garlic, finely-minced
- 3 ½ Tbsp. cilantro, finely-minced
- ½ Tbsp. fresh dill, finely-minced
- ¼ tsp. microplaned lemon zest
- ½ tsp. verjus (preferred) or lemon juice
- ½ tsp. Khmeli Suneli Georgian spice blend
- Pinch of cayenne
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
- Keep the chicken warm in a low oven.
- Place the blackberries (leaving a few to garnish) in a fine wire strainer.
- Press the berries in the strainer to extract the juice.
- Add all remaining sauce ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Plate the chicken, drizzle with the sauce and garnish with the remaining berries.
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