Guria is one of the regions that borders on the Black Sea, and its sub-tropical climate is perfect for growing the hazelnuts that now cover a large part of the region, having replaced both vineyards and tea bushes as a cash crop. Hazelnuts may be less prized than walnuts in most of the country but they provide interesting variations on some of the best-loved recipes.
Think of this rather dry paste as a concentrate to be diluted before use with whatever is best-suited to the dish: water for a light salad or oil for painting onto roasting chicken. Taste a few of your hazelnuts before making the paste to be sure they are fresh and not bitter.
To make a tasty but light dressing for the cucumber and tomato salad that appears on every Georgian supra table, stir 2 tablespoons of water into 2 tablespoons of paste in a small bowl, mix well and pour over the salad. That will be sufficient for 2 to 3 people; increase the quantities for a bigger salad.
- 110gr/4oz/1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 12g/1/3oz/3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp salt
- 25g/2/3oz/½ cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
- fresh chilli, to taste
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until a thick paste has been obtained. (Note: whole hazelnuts get stuck easily on the blades of the machine, so it’s best to chop them coarsely before you process them.)
Store the paste in the refrigerator covered closely with plastic wrap to stop oxidation. It will keep for a week or more. You can also freeze it in small batches for later use.