Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings)
Who knew that brown butter was the best dipping sauce?
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour
for the dough:
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 ½ - 3 cups|10 ½-12 ounces|300-350 grams all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
for the filling:
8 ounces|250 grams equal parts beef and pork (nice fatty cuts)
1 ¼ cups|5 ounces|150 grams onion, finely diced
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 green chili, diced (if you like less heat, leave this out)
1 teaspoon good-quality black peppercorns, freshly ground
sea salt flakes
brown butter, to serve (optional)
1. To make the dough, pour ⅔ cup (5 ounces/150 ml) water and the oil into a bowl, then gradually mix in the flour.
2. Knead the dough on a well-floured work surface for a good 5 minutes to get the gluten to develop. The dough will be very tight and this is what you want, as it will need to hold quite a substantial filling and you don't want it ripping in the pan. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 15-30 minutes- leave for longer if possible.
3. To make the filling, using a very sharp knife, cut the meat into very thin strips and then cut the strips across. You should end up with very small pieces of meat. You can use a meat cleaver to hand-mince the meat if you are confident with it.
4. Mix the meat with the onion, garlic, 3 tablespoons cold water, the cayenne, green chile (if using), black pepper, and some salt. The pepper is used here as a spice, and you should be able to taste its heat in the resulting khinkali. Leave the mixture to stand for about 15 minutes, then add 3 more tablespoons cold water and leave to stand again for about 10 minutes. If it's your first time, add less water- it will be much easier to practice shaping the dumplings.
5. Roll out the rested dough on a floured work surface into a 14-inch (35-cm) square sheet about ⅛ inch (2.5mm) thick. Bear in mind that you will be rolling the dough out more once the rounds are cut out, and also that you will be using a rather wet and heavy filling, so the dough mustn't be too thin- otherwise, the dumplings will burst in the pan. Khinkali are sturdy dumplings- there is none of the delicacy of the ethereal raviolo here.
6. Using a glass about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter, stamp out rounds from the dough. Roll each round out a little thinner, about 3 ½ inches (9 cm) in diameter.
7. If making for the first time, start with less filling than you should ideally put in, as it will be easier to practice shaping the dumplings. If you have made them before, place a tablespoonful of filling in the center of each round. Using the tips of your fingers, start bringing the edges of the round up over the filling, pleating and pinching firmly as you go, resulting in a money bag shape. Pinch the "neck" of the money bag really well, and either remove the tip or leave it in place. They say that 19 pleats make a truly perfect khinkali. I can manage about 12 without straining too much, and that works fine for me. Keep any filled khinkali covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out before cooking.
8. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil and cook the khinkali, in batches of 8, for about 8 minutes- they will float to the top when ready. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well, and serve hot, with brown butter, if you like. Oh, and top with a bunch more freshly ground black pepper.
Khinkali are supposed to be spicy, but if you don't enjoy spice, adjust the flavor to your taste. You can soak the seeded green chiles in iced water to get rid of some of the heat while retaining the chile flavor. Ketino added all sorts of beautiful flavorings, such as wild caraway and thyme; or garlic and chopped cilantro, although others say that such additions aren't right. But cooking isn't about rules. As long as your khinkali are well seasoned and full of juice, they're a winner.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This recipe was reprinted with permission of the author from Kaukasis: A Culinary Journey Through Georgia, Azerbaijan & Beyond.