Let's visit Georgia, in Eastern Europe, where we'll find Charkhlis Chogi, this flavourful side dish made of beets smothered in a sweet-tart sauce made of sour cherries and onions. It'll wake up your taste buds and add vibrant colour and pizzazz to any meal. (Skip to recipe.)
This month in our Eat the World recipe challenge we visit the Republic of Georgia. While perusing recipes hailing from this eastern European country I couldn't help being excited by the flavour profile of the delicious foods I found: lots of vegetables, bean dishes, cheesy breads, savoury spicy stews, nuts (especially walnuts), noodles. Then this beet dish caught my eye.
Charkhlis Chogi. It's a simple dish of sliced roasted beets heated in a sweet and sour sauce made of onions and tart dried cherries, all strewn generously with fresh herbs. It's the tang of dried sour cherries that makes this sauce come alive, and since I have a few jars of the wrinkly jewels dried from our bumper Evans cherry crop last summer, I was excited to try this recipe.
Beets have always been one of my favourite vegetables - their earthy sweetness is like candy to me. I love them boiled, roasted, shredded, pickled, in juice, in soup, cooked in salads, and raw in salads. Beets are a healthy vegetable workhorse in feeding your family; they contain a lot of nutrients for few calories (high in manganese, folate, and many other valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants). They are also a glamourous, show-stealing star no matter how they're prepared, always shouldering their way to the front of the crowd and screaming for attention with their gorgeously intense ruby-red colour. In this dish, they get the full glory to themselves.
How Easy is it to Make a Bowl of Charkhlis Chogi, those Gorgeous Georgian Beets?
Let me show you.
Wrap up a few beets, drizzle them with a bit of oil, and roast them in the oven. (While you're at it, why not roast up a few extras to slice into salads for the coming week?)
Let them cool a bit and peel off the outer skin. It slips off easily (disregard all those warnings that say your skin will be stained forever - by the time you've washed a few dishes, your hands will be clean.)
While the beets are roasting, chop up an onion and a handful of dried sour cherries.
Sauté up those onions in some olive oil and butter, add the cherries, a bit of seasoning, and some water and simmer for a few minutes. At this point, some recipes whiz the ingredients into a smooth sauce, but I prefer to leave it rustic and chunky (plus, I'm lazy).
Then slice up the warm peeled beets, and toss them into the pan.
Look at that gorgeous colour! What other dish can rival that? You've got the sweetness from the beets dancing with the tang from the cherries. So simple yet so unforgettable.
Once you add a generous handful of fresh green herbs - parsley, dill, or cilantro - you've got a dish fit for a king, or a queen . . . or just a common royal like yourself. Serve Charkhlis Chogi with any kind of roasted or grilled meat, poultry or fish. It's a great side dish or salad, and if you have any left for the next day, it'll be even better.
This Georgian dish is a winner.
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I betcha springtime in Georgia is lovely and warm right now, nestled as it is between the Black Sea, Turkey, Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
Not like March here in northern Alberta:
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Kitchen Frau Notes: I used sour cherries I've dried myself, which have no added sugar, so I found that just adding a teaspoon of sugar helped mellow out the sauce. If your sour cherries are sweetened at all, omit the sugar.
I haven't tried them, but I think dried cranberries would work here, too, although the dish would be a bit sweeter (still great, though).
- 1 lb (454gms) beets - 3 or 4 medium sized beets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion (1 cup, finely minced)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup (60gms) dried sour cherries (substitute with cranberries if cherries are not available)
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 1 teaspoon sugar, optional - add only if your dried cherries are very sour
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoon chopped dill or cilantro
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Scrub the beets but don't peel them. Cut the tops off, leaving a half inch (1cm) of stems attached. Lay the beets onto a double thickness of aluminum foil paper. Drizzle them with a bit of oil, and seal the foil tightly. Lay the packet onto a baking sheet. Bake the beet packet for 1 to 1¼ hours, until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork. (You can poke right through the foil with the fork to test them.) Open the packet and allow the beets to cool just enough so you can handle them. Peel them while still warm by scraping the outer layer off with a knife and trimming the tops.
While the beets are cooling, heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet. Finely dice the onion onion and coarsely chop the dried sour cherries. Add the onion, salt, and pepper to the oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the cherries and the water, and cook on low heat until the water has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. You can, at this point, puree the sauce with an immersion blender or leave it rustic and chunky.
Cut the peeled beets into thin wedges and add them to the cherry onion sauce, tossing to combine them evenly. There should be a layer of liquid in the bottom of the skillet - if not, add a splash of water to moisten the dish.
Allow to cool to lukewarm room temperature, transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle the top generously with the chopped herbs (or stir in most of the herbs, reserving a few as a garnish).
Serves 4 as a side dish.
Check out all the wonderful Georgian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Bernice: Fresh Herb Walnut Tomato Cucumber Salad
Camilla: A Georgian Salad Duo: Ispanakhis Pkhali and Charkhlis Mkhali
Tara: Khabizgina (Ossetian Cheese and Potato Bread)
Juli: Satsivi - Georgian Walnut Turkey
Evelyne: Georgian Ajika Dry Spice Paste
Amy: Georgian Chicken Stew with Tomatoes and Herbs [Chakhokhbili]
Margaret: Charkhlis Chogi (Georgian Beets with Sour Cherry Sauce)
Amy: Lobiani (Georgian Bean-Stuffed Bread) #EattheWorld
Wendy: Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings)
Simply Inspired Meals: Fruit Leather aka Tklapi
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Check out my past ‘Eat the World’ Recipe Challenge posts:
- A Taste of Ireland: Dublin Coddle
- A Taste of Thailand: Shrimp Laksa (Khung)
- A Taste of Kenya: Maharagwe with Ugali (Red Beans with Cornmeal Slice)
- A Taste of Sweden: Swedish Meatballs with Cream Gravy
- A Taste of New Zealand: Classic Pavlova
- A Taste of France: Axoa d’Espelette (A Simple Stew from the Basque Country)
- A Taste of Argentina: Red Chimichurri Sauce
- A Taste of India: Kerala Upma (Fluffy, Kerala Style Breakfast Upma Recipe)
- A Taste of Poland: Polish Honey Cake
- A Taste of Ethiopia: Four Ethiopian Recipes for a Fantastic Feast
- A Taste of England: Gluten Free Fish and Chips and Mushy Peas