Satsivi – Georgian Walnut Sauce
Satsivi – one of the most famous Georgian recipes is a sauce for dipping bread or served with poultry. It is served cold. Today, we are making this earthy and pungent, creamy walnut sauce.
Georgia is one of the most ancient countries of the world. Enveloped in legends and lore, the country of Georgia is something of a mystery to many. It is a small country, which sits on the Black Sea in the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Russia borders the north, and Turkey and Armenia sit to its south. To the southeast is Azerbaijan.
Tbilisi is Georgia’s capital and its largest city. Currently, its population is 4.5 million with just over 1 million living in Tbilisi. It is a country rich in farmland and livestock with a wide range of terrains and climates. Citrus, grapes, tea and hazelnuts are grown here. It is a country of warm and kind people, beautiful landscape and incredible history in wine making.
Wine plays a vital role in Georgian life. Georgians are not only credited with inventing wine but keeping the tradition of making it for thousands of years. They grow over 500 varieties of grape. Qvevri is a clay vessel used for making, aging and storing wine. The qvevri is sealed and buried in the earth for six months before it is served. In 2012, the Ministry of Culture of Georgia produced a video, “Here Lives Wine”, which explains the importance of wine to this culture:
14 Interesting Facts about Georgia
- Georgians call the country Sakartvelo, a toponym translated as “all Kartli”, which is a historical region where Tbilisi is located.
- Georgians were one of the first to adopt Christianity. According to one of the most widespread versions, it happened in 319. Today, Orthodox Christianity is the main religion in Georgia.
- Georgians use three writing systems, Asomtavruli, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli. This script is used to write all Kartvelian languages.
- There are no capital letters in Georgian script.
- Georgians have a unique numbering system. Numbers from 30-99 are made up with a base-20 system. For example, 33 would be twenty-thirteen, and 78, three-twenty-eighteen.
- Colchis is an ancient region on the coast of the Black Sea and is considered the first state or earliest territory of Georgia.
- Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), leader of the Soviet Union, was Georgian.
- At the time of the Soviet Union, Georgians delivered 95% of tea and 97% of tobacco. 95% of citrus also went to regions of the USSR from Georgia.
- In 1991, Georgian anthropologist and paleontologist, David Lordkpanidze, excavated 5 skulls, 73 stone tools, and 34 bones at Dmanisi. These fossils are over 1.8 million years old and the oldest hominin remains found outside of Africa.
- Shish kebabs and khinkali can be eaten with hands.
- In spite of Georgia’s traditionally high level of a homophobia, physical contact between Georgian men is very high. It is perfectly acceptable to hold hands while walking or while sitting in coffee houses.
- Georgia is the birthplace of wine. The earliest archeological evidence of viniculture that was discovered in Georgia dates back to 6,000 B.C. Today, Georgia cultivates over 500 varieties of grapes. Almost everyone participates in Rtveli, the annual wine harvest and festivities.
- Georgians are known for their hospitality. The guest in the house is more important than the owner. Therefore, in the Georgian homes, it isn’t accepted to take off footwear.
- Georgians are known for a love of long toasts. However, not all know that when Georgians drink beer, toasts can’t be said!
A few of the many staple foods in Georgia include:
- Khinkali (dumplings). It is said Georgians can’t have a party without khinkali.
- Khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread Georgians are extremely proud of.
- Kubdari (meat filled pastry)
- Kotleti (beef patties)
- Pkhali (patties made with spinach, nettles, cabbage or beetroot and walnuts)
- Shkmeruli (chicken cooked in milk and garlic)
- Chashushuli (meat or vegetable stew)
- Satsivi (walnut sauce)
Satsivi was originally just a sauce made with walnuts, garlic, and spices, but the name became synonymous for recipes with poultry prepared with the sauce. As vegetarians, we used whole crimini mushrooms instead of meat.
Also, it is important to introduce you to a traditional Georgian spice mix called Khmeli Suneli. I was lucky to find this spice mix in a Russian market. I am sure you can find it somewhere close by to where you live or order it online. But in case you can’t find it, here is the recipe:
Equal proportions of:
Savory or summer savory
2%–ground red chili pepper
- 2.5 cups walnuts
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2.5 cups vegetable broth
- 2-3 tablespoon white wine vinegar or pomegranate juice
- Bunch of parsley
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Mushrooms (package about 300 grams)
- 1 teaspoon Khmeli Suneli Spice mix
- Sauté chopped onions in olive oil. After a few minutes add chopped garlic and walnuts. Cook until onions are caramelized and walnuts are little roasted, about 5-7 minutes.
- In blender, add walnut mixture, vegetable broth, vinegar or pomegranate juice, and spices (khmeli suneli, salt, pepper, cinnamon). Blend until smooth.
- In a heavy skillet, preheat olive oil and add whole mushrooms. (Cut extra large mushrooms in half, if needed.) Cook for about 10 minutes.
- When mushrooms are golden brown, add walnut sauce and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Take off the heat and add chopped parsley.
- Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top when serving.
- We served it with rice and roasted carrots.
- It can also be used as a dip for bread.
Shakti Chris Nekrasova