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Music – “Opening Ceremony Orchestra Theme” from Sochi Winter Hits 2014 – The Unofficial Olympics Edition by Chris Huelsbeck. Released: 2014
The Olympic spirit is with us once again and even diehard non-sports fans like myself, love watching the winter Olympics. I confess that until Russia won the bid for the 2014 Olympics, I had never heard of Sochi.
Russia is such a vast country, covering more than 17,000,000 square miles. Compare this to the USA, with 3,794,000 square miles! Russia shares borders with 14 countries, compared to the USA, with 2: Canada and Mexico. The Russian geography ranges from tundra, taiga, mixed forests, steppes, and semi-desert, where Sochi is located, on the Black Sea. There are 9 time zones in Russia, which gives one an idea of its sheer size.
In my cookbook collection, I have a number of Russian cookbooks, and being fired up about the Olympics, I browsed through them last night. There is such a variety in the cuisine, by region, by geography and by influence from neighbouring countries, that it is difficult to summarize Russian cuisine easily. I did learn that in the area around Sochi, popular dishes include Circassian Chicken, Shish Kebabs of many varieties, Solyanka Soup and “Khinkali”.
In “Culinaria Russia”, which includes recipes from Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, I found a recipe for “Khinkali”, which are filled pasta pockets, a kind of dumpling. According to Culinaria Russia, which is edited by Marion Trutter and was published in 2007:
“Housewifely virtues are measured by the skill in forming the bag of dough: the more folds of pasta dough that can be pressed together over the filling to form a knob, the greater the devotion of the woman to her family”
To eat Khinkali, the knob is held in the fingers and bits are bitten off carefully. In this way, the juices of the filling generated during cooking do not run over the hands and clothes. Very practical, those Russians.
Here is the recipe:
For the Filling
1 ¾ pound ground lamb or mixed ground pork and beef
3 large onions, chopped very fine
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
For the Dough
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
about 2/3 cup lukewarm salt water
Knead together the ground meat with the salt, pepper, onion, cilantro and about 7 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Prepare a smooth dough from the flour and salt water, roll it out thinly and cut out 6 inch circles using a saucer. Put about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the meat filling into the center of each circle.
Gather up the edges of the dough to the center over the filling and pinch neatly together. Put the Khinkali in a large pan with boiled, lightly salted water and simmer very gently, gently agitating them with a wooden spoon now and again. When they float to the surface, continue to simmer for about 6 minutes, then remove from the water using a skimmer, sprinkle with black pepper and serve hot.
Don’t forget, the more folds you make, the more devoted you are to your family! Enjoy!