The delicious aroma of a fresh cheesy pita wafts out of a hot tabun (brick oven), tantalizing the taste buds of every passerby on a Tel Aviv street. But this is no pita; this delicacy is called khachapuri, a specialty of the Gruzinim, the Jews of Georgia.
Jews have lived in Georgia, on the border between Asia and Europe, since Babylonian captivity in the sixth century BCE. The first Jews arrived after Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. They were ruled successively by the Persians, Mongols, Russian tsars and the Soviet Union. They are neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardi. Georgian Jews have their own customs, language and practices. They were among the first Soviet Jews to make aliyah in the 1970s.
The Gruzinim introduced Georgia’s national dish, Khachapuri, to Israel. This staple of the Georgian diet is a bread baked with three types of cheese, and topped off with an egg at the end of the baking process. Georgians love this bread so much that they consume it more than pizza! In Israel, khachapuri is a very popular choice for brunch.
(Adapted from Georgian Recipes )
For the dough:
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 tsp. yeast
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- Heat the water and milk to 115 ℉.
- Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cover with a clean towel and put in a warm place.
- Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
- Punch the dough down, and allow it to rise again for 30 minutes.
For the filling:
- 1 ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 ½ cup shredded muenster cheese
- 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 5 eggs
Mix the three types of cheese together in a bowl.
To assemble the Khachapuri:
- Preheat the oven to 500 ℉.
- Roll out the dough.
- Cut out 4 ovals.
- Roll up the sides and pinch the ends to make your Khachapuri look like a canoe.
- Stuff each one with the cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Take the khachapuri out of the oven.
- Beat one egg with 1 teaspoon of water to make an egg wash.
- Brush each Khachapuri with the egg wash.
- Break one egg in the center of each Khachapuri.
- Return the Khachapuri to the oven and bake for an additional 4 minutes or to taste.
Serve with a pad of butter. The butter and egg are mixed with a fork and knife, and then the crust is dipped into the egg, cheese and butter center.