excerpted from The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia by Darra Goldstein
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Khachapuri connoisseurs are well acquainted with adhzaruli khachapuri, the extraordinarily rich, boat-shaped cheese pie from Adzharia, an autonomous republic within Georgia on the shores of the Black Sea. Less well known is the Adzharian version of chirbuli, a widespread Georgian dish in which eggs are scrambled with vegetables. Here, the eggs are kept whole and dropped into a spicy tomato sauce seasoned with the sour-plum condiment tkemali. It’s really a wonderfully vivid, Georgian-style shakshuka. Although some cooks add ground walnuts, I prefer the texture without.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons cornmeal
One 28-ounce can tomatoes in purée
1/2 cup Plum Sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat until they begin to brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, pound the garlic and salt into a paste in a mortar with a pestle. Set aside.
When the onions are ready, sprinkle the cornmeal into the skillet and simmer for a minute, stirring. Then add the canned tomatoes, including the puree, breaking them up with a spatula. Stir in the plum sauce, pounded garlic, cayenne, and black pepper to taste. Stir to mix well. Cover the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes.
Make 8 indentations in the sauce. Break the eggs into the indentations and sprinkle them with salt. Strew the basil around the eggs so that the yolks remain visible. Cover the skillet and simmer until the egg whites are barely set and the yolks are still runny, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve the chirbuli right from the skillet, with crusty bread.