WALNUT PASTE NIGVZIS SAKMAZI
“This recipe is a cornerstone of much Georgian food, particularly in the central and western parts of the country,” says Marina. [Based in Chardakhi, Marina Kurtanidze – owner of the wine label, ManDili – is the first woman in modern Georgia to make and bottle her own wine.] “Each family has their own favourite recipe for it but the basic ingredients are good fresh walnuts, herbs, garlic and some spices. It’s used on all sorts of vegetables, stirred into stews, and is a delicious condiment to have in the fridge to liven up hard-boiled eggs, cheese or cold meats.” Use this as the basis for your own signature walnut paste, adding extra chilli, garlic, salt, herbs or spices to taste.
In Georgia, tradition decrees that the walnuts should be pounded slowly by hand with the garlic and spices in a mortar and pestle, but a food processor makes an easy second choice if you don’t have a good mortar.
Store the paste in an airtight jar in the fridge for 1–2 weeks, pressing a piece of plastic wrap right onto the paste to stop it oxidizing. You can also freeze this paste in small batches for later use. For a great dipping sauce, combine 120 ml / 4 fl oz / ½ cup fresh pomegranate juice (the juice of about two pomegranates) with 120 ml / 4 fl oz / ½ cup of the paste.
MAKES about 240 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup PREPARATION 10 minutes 150 g / 5 oz /1/2 cups walnut halves 12 g / 1/3 oz / 3 garlic cloves, or more to taste 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed 1/4 tsp ground fenugreek 1 tsp salt 1 tbsp chopped mint 3 tbsp chopped coriander / cilantro leaves 1 tsp minced dill fresh chilli, to taste 1/a cup water
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have an even paste. Some dishes are best with a more granular mixture while others call for a smoother texture – there are no rigid rules. Store tightly wrapped with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
You can also freeze small batches of the paste, wrapped in foil for quick use at a later date. This paste is quite concentrated and should always be loosened with a little water before being used, so follow individual recipes to see how much liquid is required.