A crispy canoe of fluffy, homemade bread flooded with three phenomenal types of gooey cheese. Need I sell you more on Khachapuri – Georgian Cheese bread?
If you think pizza can claim ownership to the most fabulous combination on earth – crusty dough and melted cheese – think again. In a land wedged against the Black Sea, the love affair of bread & diary has been ongoing for generations.
They call it Khachapuri.
Despite staying in Moscow for one and a half years, I never got around to trying the famous Eurasian dish. It was while I visited Moscow a year or so back, that I got my first taste of Khachapuri, or as others call it, Georgian cheese bread.
I had it again during my jaunt to Minsk and fell in head over heels in love.
What is Georgian Cheese Bread?
A traditional food of the Republic of Georgia, Khachapuri is a flatbread shaped like a boat and filled to the bursting with cheese. Each region of the country has its own favorite iteration of the savory bread. Khachapuri Adjaruli (the one I’ve made) simply eclipses them all.
How to Make Georgian Cheese Bread?
Making Georgian cheese bread takes a tad bit finesse, but the outcome is more than worth it.
Who doesn’t love to dip soft, chewy bread in molten cheese? Right?
First, make the dough.
Knead flour and salt with a mixture of tepid water, sugar and yeast. When it starts to come together drizzle in some olive oil to make a soft, supple and elastic dough. Put in a well-oiled container and cover with a damp cloth.
FYI, you can use any of your favourite pizza dough recipes. This one is my go -to , no-fail pizza dough recipe!
While you wait for the dough to rise (which it will in less than an hour or so if you’re living through the same sweltering heatwave I am), get to creating the cheese filling.
Second, make the cheese filling.
I used cashew ricotta cheese; regular, Amul mozzarella, and some feta I happened to have around. You can use any cheese you have at home. For the ricotta, if you know how to make a homemade one, now is the time to make some.
I added some fresh thyme and purslane from my garden to the cheese. The purslane was sautéed in olive oil for a tad 2-3 minutes, till it wilted just a soupcon.
Those who are new purslane, it’s also called kulfa ka saag. The green leafy succulent grows wildly during summer, and most people mistake it for a weed.
It is not.
The entire plant is edible – leaves, flowers and all – and filled to the brim with nutrients. It has Vitamins E, C and A. It is rich in dietary fibre. And it has loads of omega-3 fatty acids.
I’ve used it to make cheela, and I love its piquant flavour in dals.
If you don’t have purslane growing in your garden, look for it at your local vegetable vendors.
Variations of the filling:
You can leave the purslane out and add fresh herbs. Spinach works in a pinch. Grilled shredded chicken is a great addition or even cooked minced meat.
Go the traditional way and you don’t need anything other than cheese.
Give soft crumbled paneer a try, too. The only condition is that it has to be freshly made and soft.
Third, bake the Khachapuri – Georgian cheese bread
Once the dough has risen, punch it a few times and cut it in four pieces. Cover them with a damp cloth again for a few minutes. Roll out each piece and form a canoe shape.
Add in the cheese mixture and slide it in the oven till the sides are beautifully brown and crispy.
Dig in while the Georgian cheese bread is hot but not before the final flourish: hunks of butter.
Eggless and vegan variations of Georgian cheese bread:
I made an eggless Georgian cheese bread because neither the daughter nor the mothership delight in it.
But the original recipe of Georgian cheese bread has egg. Five minutes before the bread is done, you take it out, crack an egg and put it back in the oven. You bake it just enough that the white solidifies and the yolk is deliciously runny.
For a completely vegan Georgian cheese bread, use plant-based cheese and butter. You can replace the butter with a drizzle of olive oil, too.
Finally, Serve the Georgian Cheese Bread
Khachapuri is best savoured straight out of the oven.
You tear off a piece, use it as a spoon to stir the melting pats of butter in the bubbling cheese and then find bliss!
I made four bread boats (for the four souls in my abode) and served with a side of a light salad as a meal. The crust was exquisitely crispy and not one bit soggy – the bane of bread and cheese combos. I think it was because I didn’t overstuff the bread with cheese as our love for cheese comes in moderation.
The deliciously light Georgian cheese bread is excellent as a snack too. It doesn’t leave you with that chunky, heavy feel of overtly cheesy bread.
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Khachapuri _ Georgian Cheese Bread
- 2.5 cups All purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Dried active yeast
- ¾ cup Water, lukewarm
- ½ cup Milk, lukewarm
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing the dough
- ⅓ cup Cashew ricotta* You can use regular Ricotta or cream cheese
- ¾ cup Grated Mozzarella I used Amul pizza cheese
- ⅓ cup Feta Cheese
- 1 cup Purslane/ kulfa ka saag, chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1-2 tsp Fresh or dried Thyme
- 2-3 tbsp Butter, cut into cubes
- Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
- Combine the lukewarm water, milk, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for 5 -10 minutes., for the yeast to get bubbly.
- In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture.
- Knead them together till the dough almost starts coming together. Now add in the olive oil. Knead well till the dough is smooth and elastic. This will take about 8-10 minutes. " See notes "
- Place the ready dough ina greased bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a draft-free area for about an hour till the dough doubles. Mine doubled in 30 minutes, it's so hot here!
- In the meanwhile, saute the chopped purslane for a couple of minutes in olive oil. Let it cool.
- Combine the cooled purslane, cashew ricotta, mozzarella, and feta cheese in a bowl. Mix in some fresh or dried thyme and coarsely ground black pepper. I didn't add any salt as the cheeses were salty enough. But do add some if you prefer.
- Preheat the oven to 225C. Line a baking tray with baking paper or Silpat.
- Punch down the proofed dough and knead it gently for 2-3 minutes. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts and cover for 10-15 minutes with a damp kitchen towel.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out into a 6" – 7" circle or oval. Roll up the sides towards the center and twist the sides, to make a boat shape.
- Fill the center of the boats with the cheese mixture.
- Carefully place the baking paper or Silpat on the baking tray. Brush the edges with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.
- Place 2-3 cubes of butter on the hot breads, serve immediately and enjoy!