This very colourful vegetable stew from Pheasant’s Tears chef, Gia Rokashvili, resembles ratatouille but combines root and summer vegetables (and has no courgettes/zucchini). The vegetables cook together: cut them into good-size chunks so they retain their flavours and bite. You can adapt ajapsandali to whatever vegetables you have available. What makes it so Georgian is the quantity of fresh herbs that bring it to life. The original recipe calls for a whole head of garlic, but I find that’s too much unless you have fragrant fresh garlic to hand, so just use as much as you like. Ajapsandali is as good cold as it is hot or warm.
SERVES 8-10 · PREP 25 minutes · COOK 45 minutes
- 500g/1lb 2oz potatoes
- 300g/10 oz carrots
- 30g/1 oz/2 tbsp butter
- 6 tbsp sunflower oil
- ¼ tsp dried summer savory (kondari) or wild thyme
- 675g/1lb 8 oz small aubergines/eggplants, sliced crosswise
- 2 red peppers, cut into bite-size chunks
- 115g/4oz smaller, pale green peppers, seeded and quartered
- 450g/1lb tomatoes, peeled and sliced
- 400g/14 oz onions, chopped
- 30g/1 oz garlic/8 garlic cloves, or to taste, roughly chopped fresh green chilli, to taste
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 20g/2/3 oz/½ cup red and/or green basil, chopped
- 20g/2/3 oz/½ cup coriander/cilantro, chopped
- 10g/1/3 oz/¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Peel and chop the potatoes and carrots into large, bite-size pieces. Heat the butter and oil with the kondari or thyme in a large heavy saucepan. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover, and cook them over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until they start to soften. Stir occasionally.
Add the aubergines/eggplants to the pan, stirring well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the red and green peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilli and salt and stir well. Cover. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables give up their juices, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Test the aubergines/eggplants and potatoes for doneness. When they are tender, and the other vegetables seem cooked too, add the herbs. Stir them into the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Allow the ajapsandali to stand for at least 5 minutes before serving hot or at room temperature.