Kisi is a rare but a rather exciting indigenous white variety. It comes from the Kakheti region in the south-eastern Georgia and is at least several centuries old, though its exact origin remains unknown. A well-made Kisi wine is gorgeously fragrant, with notes of flowers and stone fruit. 

Despite its potential to produce high quality wines, during the Soviet era Kisi vines were widely replaced by the more productive and easier-to-grow Rkatsiteli grape. As a result, Kisi plantings became almost extinct. Nowadays, Kisi vineyards are gradually being restored now with more and more winemakers turning their attention to this promising grape. 

Ripe Kisi grapes

Aromas And Styles

Kisi makes stunningly aromatic dry wines with captivating notes of flowers, dried pears and apples. The most amazing feature of this beautiful indigenous grape  is that when you smell Kisi wine, you are almost entirely sure that it is going to be sweet. But then you taste it and surprise! –  it is dry and refreshing. At the same time Kisi wine overwhelms you with an extensive range of flavours.

Kisi is often vinified in the traditional Georgian style: fermented on skins in big clay amphorae known as qvevri. This gives them a lovely amber hue and brings out notes of apricots, mango, lime, orange, mint and walnuts. Kisi is often blended with other local varieties, such as Rkatsiteli, however a solo-act Kisi wine is truly gorgeous and expressive.

Shila plavi calls for several somewhat unusual ingredients, at least for non-Georgian households. The good news – all of it can be made at home or simply purchased online. Sunflower oil is the classic oil used in Gerogian cuisine and has a delicious flavor profile as well as being very healthy – you can easily buy it here. I have My own recipe for the garlic-laden, herbaceous salt known as Svanetian salt – follow My recipe or buy it pre-made from here.

Khmeli-suneli is THE classic Georgian spice blend – again, you can either go with My version and make it yourself or buy it pre-made from here. Dried porcini powder is not traditional in the dish, but I find it adds a potent and earthy flavor of mushroom to the final product that is truly addictive – buy it from here. Georgians have traditionally used the ground, dried petals of the marigold plant to add yellow color and a dusky, dark flavor profile to their dishes – buy it here or just substitute saffron or turmeric.

My Citizens – enjoy the holiday if you are celebrating it and please do keep your beloved Autarch of Authenticity in mind as you share this delightful – yet somberly-sobriquetted – recipe from the cradle of winemaking, GEORGIA!

Battle on – the Generalissimo

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The Hirshon Georgian Mushroom Funeral Rice (Shila Plavi) - სოკო შილა პლავი

The Hirshon Georgian Mushroom Funeral Rice (Shila Plavi) – სოკო შილა პლავი


  • Author: The Generalissimo

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 Tbsp. sunflower oil (preferred) or canola oil
  • 2 1/4 lbs. fresh porcini mushrooms, brushed clean (NOT washed!) – stems removed and saved for future stock making
  • 2 tsp. Svanetian salt (STRONGLY preferred, but this is a TFD addition to the original recipe) or Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed – preferably a Georgian cultivar
  • 3 cilantro roots, finely minced (optional, but recommended)
  • 1 1/2 cups short-grain rice – TFD prefers Kohuko Rose brand
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds, finely-ground
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds, finely-ground
  • 1/2 Tbsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup semi-dry white wine, preferably Georgian Anakopia, but a semi-dry Gewurztraminer or Riesling can be substituted – TFD substitutes Orgo winery Kisi from Georgia
  • 4 cups hot lamb, beef, or chicken stock, mixed with 2 Tbsp. khmeli sunneli seasoning and 2 Tbsp. dried porcini powder (adding khmeli sunneli and porcini powder are optional but recommended TFD changes, omit them for original) – TFD prefers chicken stock in this particular recipe – use vegetable stock if you HAVE to keep it vegetarian
  • 1 cup additional meat stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian), reserved if needed
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature – use sunflower oil if you have to keep it vegetarian – TFD prefers KerryGold Irish butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Georgian kviteli kvavili (ground marigold petals) (strongly preferred!) or use saffron or turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh dill fronds
  • 1 Tbsp. torn Cilantro leaves (can substitute dill if you don’t like cilantro)
  • 1 cup coarsely grated pecorino romano or other hard sheep’s-milk cheese (TFD prefers Sardinian Fiore Sardo), plus more for garnish – can be omitted for vegetarian, if you must


Instructions

  1. Take the mushrooms and cut them into small cubes. Chop up the onions and fry them in an oiled saucepan over high heat until translucent. Add ½ the ground marigold, crushed garlic, washed rice and mix.
  2. Three or four minutes later, add chopped mushrooms and let the mixture cook for 5 more minutes. Add wine, stirring continuously until absorbed.
  3. Stir in the cumin, caraway and black pepper, then pour in the wine and cook, stirring continuously, until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 1 minute more.
  4. Turn the heat to high and add 2 cups of stock and the bay leaf. When the liquid boils, turn the heat down to maintain a strong simmer and cook, stirring every minute or so, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock, the cilantro root (if using) and the remaining ½ of the ground marigold petals.
  6. Return the liquid to a boil, then simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is cooked to your liking, about 8 minutes for al dente or 11 for soft. Use the extra cup of stock if needed to achieve your preferred consistency. Remove from the heat.
  7. Add the dill, cilantro leaves, butter and pecorino and stir until both have melted, about 1 minute. Season the shila plavi with Svanetian salt to taste, then serve immediately, sprinkled with more cheese and black pepper.