Georgian dumplings and jonjoli.
19 September 2011
Dumplings are a classic staple in Georgian cuisine. After eating them at little outdoor restaurants this summer, buying them in the freezer section of our local grocery and listening to my kids plead for "More dumplings!" I decided to attempt making them at home.
The kids helped and together we made several trays of the treats-- half filled with local farmer's cheese and half filled with jonjoli. Yup, that's the big green weedy looking thing at the forefront of the picture and man, oh, man is it a treat. I haven't been able to find an English translation for jonjoli. It is the result of a local plant going to seed. The flowers and stems are picked, lightly brined and preserved for use in dumplings and as a condiment to potato dishes. My daughter loves it so much that while grocery shopping she asked if we could get a new jar, having run out at home. Once home, I unpacked the groceries and found two jars of jonjoli. She smiled and said, "well, I didn't want to run out!"
Our dumplings should have been rolled a bit thinner and we should have tried a combo of cheese and jonjoli, but all in all, straight out of the steaming hot water, they were delicious little bundles of joy.
adapted from The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Cheese of choice, depending on what your taste preference is (any cheese will work)
Mix the flour, salt and water together to form a dough. Add a bit more flour if too sticky. The dough should hold into a smooth ball. Choose a golf-ball size piece of dough, flatten and roll out until the thickness of a pie crust. Add a generous tablespoon of cheese to the center and close the dough around the filling, pinching to create a top knot. Set aside. Repeat with another piece of dough and continue until all of the dough is finished.
Add the dumplings, working in batches, to rapidly boiling water and cook until the dough is firm (about 15-20 minutes). Serve hot with freshly cracked pepper and lightly drizzled with olive oil, if desired.
Note: You can freeze the dumplings for later use. Take the formed, not yet boiled, dumplings and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place into the freezer and allow to freeze overnight. The next day, remove the dumplings from the tray, place into an airtight container and freeze again. The dumplings can be taken from the freezer directly and placed into a boiling pot of water. Double the cooking time to be approximately 30 minutes.