Kharcho: Georgian Beef Stew with Walnuts

This recipe comes from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Georgia became independent of the Soviet Union in 1991. There are several different regions with their own unique dishes. One of the most famous Georgian dish is Khachapuri, which is an egg and cheese filled yeast leavened bread. There are many others. If you want a full list of Georgian dishes, check out the Wikipedia entry. It is not an exhaustive list, which I’m sure a native Georgian would tell you, but it give you an idea of what kinds of dishes are out there.

As regular readers of the blog can attest, I love finding out about recipes that I have never heard of before. There are only a few dishes I like to repeat. Lentils and rice happens to be one of them. I prefer to have new dishes that challenge my tastebuds. Tasting something unfamiliar is exciting. The dish could be good, not so good, or awesome. You don’t know unless you get out of your comfort zone a little. For this week, I am adapting a recipe for Georgian Kharcho, a beef and walnut stew. The base recipe comes from The World Was Here First. I chose this recipe because it was simple. I didn’t have to go running around finding the ingredients. With the sheer amount of walnuts in this recipe, the calories are a bit high, but that’s mostly from the rather large portions. No matter, I think we can make this version a healthier version. What do you say? I say let’s do it.

Here are the original stats:

Here’s what I changed:

  • I increased the servings from 4 to 12 to reduce the calories
  • I replaced the tomato with pumpkin puree and chopped red bell pepper.
  • I reduced the amount of beef to reduce the calories.
  • I added carrot to increase the vitamin A.

Here are the final stats:

Here is the final recipe:

Kharcho: Georgian Beef Stew with Walnuts

Serves 12

  • 1.5 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into cubes (about 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 5 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 250 grams (8.8 ounces) walnuts, ground
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground blue fenugreek
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried marigold
  • 1 teaspoon dried summer savory
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more or less to taste
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
  1. Trim excess fat from beef and season liberally with pepper.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven or the saute mode on a pressure cooker, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (Georgians would use sunflower) over medium until shimmering. Add meat in a single layer, being careful to leave enough room in the pan to ensure browning, you may need to work in batches. Sear beef on one side until browned before flipping with tongs. Once beef is browned, remove from pan and transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onions, carrot and red bell pepper scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree and cook until  until bubbly.
  5. Mix walnuts, garlic, blue fenugreek, coriander, marigold and savory together in a small bowl. Add to pot and stir until all liquid is absorbed and sauce is very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef along with any accumulated juices and pour stock over the mixture, stirring to combine.
  6. Bring to a a gentle simmer and cover and allow to cook until the beef is very tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2.5 hours. Uncover and simmer for a further 30 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly. OR if using a pressure cooker, pressure cook on high for 10 minutes and allow for a natural pressure release.  

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