I have been very fortunate in the past 12 years to have travelled extensively for my work, and to have lived in a number of countries abroad. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about local cuisines and have a list of favourite dishes from places all around the world. I hope in this blog to recreate some of my favourite dishes, and today was tossing up between cooking a wonderful Kosovar/Albanian dish of lamb cooked with yoghurt or a Georgian dish of chicken with walnut sauce. In the end, after extensive discussion with H-Gusto we decided to go for Georgian chicken and will save the lamb cooked in yoghurt for another time.
There are many recipes for Chicken Satsivi on the net. I read several, and tried to draw from my memory of what the dish tasted like when I visited Tblisi some 9-10 years ago. I recall every dinner being a feast with dish after dish of gorgeous meats and salads coming out. As I recall, the chicken with walnut sauce came last, and by the time it arrived on my plate I would be stuffed full, but would push through the pain barrier in order to have a few bites. While most of the recipes I found on the web were similar to each other, there were occasional differences. This recipe boiled the chicken rather than roasted it. That recipe used pomegranate molasses and another tamarind paste. Still another recipe poured the cold sauce over cold chicken, whereas I recall the dish being served piping hot. In the end I did a mix of a couple of the easiest recipes and hoped for the best.
1 large whole chicken
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tbspoon flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves, cinnamon, saffron, if you have it. (We did not).
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 crumbled bay leaf
1 cup crushed walnuts- this should be as powdery as you can make them.
large bunch of finely chopped parsley
pomegranate seeds to sprinkle.
The photos I took this evening are not great, but we have the following;
I decided to ‘poach’ (boil) the chicken rather than roast. I have never done this before and had absolutely no idea how long it would take, so wacked it into a large pot and hoped for the best.
Then in a pan with melted butter I sauteed the onion and garlic. Once it was translucent, I added the flour and chicken stock to thicken.
Then I added all the spices, the parsley, the cider vinegar and the crushed walnuts and stirred. It gradually thickened and I put it aside.
I have no idea how long the chicken took to poach. I was concentrating on the sauce and failed to take any notice. But, I recommend that after the poaching liquid starts to boil to check the chicken every 15 minutes. I THINK the whole thing took an hour.
The final photo is extremely unattractive, but both H-Gusto and B-Gusto were bleating for their meal, so I hurried my clicking fingers. I cut the chicken into pieces, poured the sauce over the top, sprinkled pomegranate seeds and we had this with parsley potatoes; honey sesame carrots and broccoli.
It was utterly yum. The sauce was multi layered- yet not at all how I recall it in Tblisi. The cinnamon really came through, with the other spices so that it was hard to pin down each aggregate sensory experience. But it was very very good indeed. I am afraid my photos do not do this dish justice, but I can highly recommend this as a really unusual, and tasty dish. H-Gusto always classifies my experiments as ‘keepers’; ‘tweakers’; or ‘forget it’. This was a definite ‘keeper’ .