Khalia – Georgian Beef Stew

This is the incredible, densely flavored beef stew that I enjoyed so much at a Georgian restaurant in St. Petersburg, Russia. I’ve been searching for this, and finally I nailed it. I had this served in a sizzling cast iron pan in Russia, and while I didn’t serve it that way to my dinner guests last night, it tasted just as good. You’ll want to serve this with basmati or jasmine rice, or Faro or brown rice if you’re being healthy. You’ll want that rice to absorb the delicious and powerful gravy. I’ve tried emulating this before, and I think the sour plums is what I was missing. If you can’t find them, or the substitutes I mention below, I’d use regular prunes and add a teaspoon of lemon juice to give it the sourness. The eventual stew does not taste sour at all, but I think the sour plums add a dimension that is missing without them. This is really a treat and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds beef stew meat
  • 1 1/2 pounds yellow onions finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

For the Stock:

  • 2 ounces Sour Plums, dry (also called golden prunes or aloo or aloocheh. Can be purchased at a persian market)
  • 2 cups Stock (beef)
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Paste

For the Spices:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fenugreek seed or dried Fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (ideally Hungarian)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

For the Seasoning:

  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 cup Walnut pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper, black
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Tarragon or 1/2 Tbsp fresh Tarragon

Instructions:

  • Cut the meat into 1/2 to 3/4 inch small cubes. Optional: Put in water to cover, bring to a boil, drain and rinse to remove all scum. This will prevent the beef from exuding water while you’re trying to fry it.
  • Put a Tbsp of olive oil in a large saute pan on medium high heat and brown the meat on all sides (about 5 minutes). Do in batches if the pan is not big enough to hold all the meat at one time. Add the onions to the pan, along with all the browned meat and the rest rest of the olive oil (3 Tbsp). Saute the onions until translucent but not browned.

Making the Stock:

  • Soak the dried sour plums for an hour, then chop fine. If you using golden prunes (aloo) that are moist, you do not need to soak them. Just remove the pits and chop them. If you can’t find either of these, you can use 3 Tbsps of Tamarind Paste (found in most middle eastern or Indian groceries) or 3 Tbsps of Tkemali sauce (sauce made from dried plums found in Russian groceries).
  • Put the stock, sour plums, and tomato paste in a blender and puree.
  • Grind the spices together and add the stock and the spices to the pan with the beef and onions. Cover and simmer slowly for 1 1/2 hours. The sauce should be a thick gravy…not dry but not thin either. If necessary, add more beef stock.
  • Put the seasoning ingredients (garlic, walnuts, salt, pepper, cilantro and tarragon) into the blender and grind very fine. Add the seasonings to the stew, stir, check for flavor and add more salt, pepper, or tarragon if desired. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

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Khalia – Georgian Beef Stew