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Chicken.Kiev >> «Chicken.Kiev» internet-magazine >> World cuisine

Georgian cuisine

When hearing the term "Georgian cuisine", the famous chakhokhbili comes to my mind, naturally and automatically. I remember a rather tasty dish made of chicken, plentifully seasoned with fried onions, coriander, basil, garlic, red pepper, mint, estragon, and other spices. Everything would have been fine, if my mother had not overdone it several years ago, when she prepared enough chakhokhbili for the next 10 years. It would be a pity to throw away that "creation", and I did not want to offend my Mom either, so I choked on the "wonderful" Georgian meal in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings, for a very long time. Much wine has been drunk since those days, but even now I can't look at chakhokhbili without an ironic smile. It is not the only specialty though, that Georgian cuisine is rich with!

Once, I was lucky enough to get invited to the real Georgian wedding, where the main dish was the bull on the turnspit. It may seem to be the simplest thing: you just put the bull onto the stake, and that's it! Well, in fact, not! In reality, to make "the bull on the turnspit" is a whole art.

Into the whole bull carcass, cut along the center of its belly, the cook-magician had carefully put a calf. Into that calf, he had put a lamb, into that lamb a turkey, into the turkey a goose, into the goose a chicken, and between all these animals, as well as inside them, he had put various herbs and spices. And despite the fact that the outer layer of the bull had become charred, everything underneath it was so juicy and tender that I admitted wholeheartedly that no magic theft of a bride, which "happened" at the wedding, could be compared with this dish, being the tastiest one in the whole world.

The only thing is, we had to wait so long first, until they brought the bride back, and then, until "the bull on the turnspit" was ready!

The bread is the king of all!

Every Georgian region has its distinct kind of bread that differs not only by the way it is baked, but also by the ingredients used.

In Eastern Georgia the yeast dough bread is popular, which is baked on the surface of the inner walls of a large clay oven or cylindrical jug with fire burning on its bottom. The bread there has different names. Some call it "madauri", others "kutkhani", "trakhtinuli" or even "dedaspuri" (meaning "the mother's bread").

In Western Georgia, they make "mchadi" corn bread made in special clay frying pans (ketsi). They also make "Ivishtari" (corn patty with cheese or kidney beans).

In the Georgian regions of Megrelia and Abkhasia, the bread is substituted by a very thick corn dish called "Gomi" resembling polenta, to which either "Satsivi" or "Suluguni" are added.

It is worth noting that Suluguni is not the only traditional cheese that is made by Georgian ladies in pitchers and hide-bags using a pickling solution. There are also other "Georgian salty" types of cheeses, among which are spicy "Tushynsky", "Imeretinsky", and aromatic "Kobi". Unfortunately, you won't find them in our stores

However, practically all famous sauces you can prepare with your own precious hands.

In order to make "Satsivi" sauce you have to brown 250 g of onions and 20 g of garlic in butter with fat skimmed from a chicken bouillon. Then add flour and 500 g of boullion, simmer, and put it aside for a while. Then mix finely crushed walnuts (300 g) with dried and fresh potherbs, ground red pepper, two egg yolks, saffron and boiled wine vinegar (100 g) and other spices. Put the mixture into the previously prepared sauce, and heat while stirring, not allowing it to boil. Serve with poultry, fish and other dishes.

The "Satsebeli" sauce is a much easier recipe: 200 g of crushed walnuts are stirred in 200 g of wine vinegar, 500 g of bouillon is added (a meat bouillon for meat dishes, a fish one for fish dishes), as well as large chopped onions (200 g), crushed garlic, salt, red pepper, parsly and dill to taste. The sauce is served with meat, fish or vegetables.

The most delicious tomato sauce is made in the following way: ripe tomatoes are sliced into four parts and boiled until they form a thick substance that is then rubbed through a sieve. Into this puree, a lot of pepper and garlic, herbs including coriander, and salt are added. It is served with fried meat.

Enough of that! Describing Georgian sauces can take hours. I apologise to all French chefs, but your Georgian colleagues have outdone you in this very aspect.

Not by meat alone

Regardless of the fact that the Georgians are meat-eaters to the bones, their meals include lots of vegetable dishes, which can be raw, fried, baked, marinated or pickled. One of them I would like to tell you about is "Lobio with butter".

Soak lobio (meaning kidney beans, preferably the red type) in water beforehand, and then boil. Drain the beans and season them with browned chopped onions, a large amount of chopped dill and parsley and red pepper, and salt to taste. This recipe is often served without a side dish.

"Mkhali" is made in a very peculiar but very simple way from white cabbage, and it is cheap and tasty. Clean the cabbage, remove the stump, and cut the head into two. Boil it in a small amount of water, cool, drain from the water, and then chop. Separately, pound 100 g of walnuts with 5-6 big cloves of garlic, mix with finely chopped coriander, parsley and dill. Also add pepper, salt, and wine vinegar, and stir. Cover the prepared cabbage with this mixture. If you don't like cabbage, then you can use beetroot, spinach, sweet pepper, or green or large onions, with the same method of preparation.

Pigs in outer space

Once we visited one of Kyiv's Georgian restaurants. In our company we had a true "dhigit" - a Georgian gentleman, who came down from the mountains to dine with us and to honor the owners of this establishment with his presence. I will make no secret of the fact that the waiters were unpleasantly surprised when, after having opened the menu and seen the price of "regular Georgian shashlyk", the respectable-looking Dato exclaimed in his accent, "Are you farming these poor pigs on the Moon, yes?" That raised some eyebrows as people started looking over at us We tried to explain to Dato that the pigs were from Kyiv's Volodymyrsky Market, and it's just that this is a prestigious restaurant, therefore prices are also "prestigious". The dzhigit mulled for a second, and the next minute he angrily looked at a young waitress who was quietly standing behind us all this time, and said:

"And you why are you standing here? Don't you have anything to do? Go to the kitchen and do your job! Here at this table the true dhigits have gathered, and they pour vodka into their glasses themselves!" Then his eyes were looking in my direction but that's another story!

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Budmo, hey! (Let's be!) The first thing which comes to my mind... No, that's not what I should say. The first picture which my imagination paints when I hear the words "the Ukrainian cuisine" is an episode from the movie of Hohol's "Evenings in the hamlet near Dykanka", where varenyky, having rolled around by themselves in sour cream, jump into Patsiuk(The Rat)'s mouth. What a great moment! What a great delicacy! And what a great way to eat it! It is certainly a pity that nobody has yet invented a "remote control for the mouth and the plate", and the above method of delivering food into the mouth is just the devil's trick or Hohol's project that is impossible to implement. But then, the amount of halushky (by the way, in a big, big bowl) is just right for our healthy and inspired Ukrainian appetite! Never mind how other people eat, but we, not so rich people, or one can even say people very far from being rich, are used to eating in grand style. It is not without reason that our phrase, "Love comes and goes, but you will always want to eat!", simply does not translate well into other languages - probably foreigners simply just do not have such words. So, what am I talking about? Oh yeah, about the unmatched Ukrainian cuisine! "There's no fish better than tench, and no meat better than pork." Among all the dishes of Ukrainian cuisine, for example, that of the very beginning of the XX century, one can single out several subcategories, which were the most popular among native Ukrainian people: those made from grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Note than in the old days, dishes made from meat were considered food for festive days only, and among all the existing kinds of meat, the undisputable preference was given to pork and certainly (could there be any doubting it?) salo - oh, our Ukrainian salo!

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