Shocking discovery: Satsivi is not chicken! Contrary to what most people believe, Satsivi is a spicy walnut sauce. Chicken under Satsivi sauce is called Katmis Satsivi, but friendly and hospitable – and extremely enterprising! – Georgians go along with common misconception, so in every Georgian restaurant outside of Georgia Satsivi means chicken. Actually, Satsivi is one of the most versatile sauces in Georgian cuisine. It could be served with vegetables, fish, or meats, hot or cold, as a part of an appetizer or a part of a main course. Served with meat, it is usually not only hot, but also actually cooked for a while with it in order to blend flavors better. And this is how the chicken legend was born.
I have made a batch of satsivi. Part of it will go towards the ubiquitous chicken (coming to my table tomorrow), and the rest is reserved for other goodies, such as fried eggplant or grilled zucchini, for example.
The most important part of this sauce is, of course, walnuts, and lots of them. Lots of garlic, too, and a good bunch of fresh cilantro, stems and all. A couple of tablespoons of cornmeal thicken the sauce, and white turmeric adds a bit of lemony tartness. Wine vinegar is a standard component, but I also use cinnamon, and, of course, salt and pepper. Most satsivi recipes include hot pepper or chili pepper; however, my recipes are spicy without being too hot. I would just put hot peppers on the side for people with fireproof stomachs, like my son.
Basically, you throw those walnuts, garlic, and cilantro into a food processor and pulverize them to death. I use a mini food processor for sauces, so I do each one separately. They will eventually blend together when they cook – if you keep stirring diligently!
Once the main three ingredients are processed to your satisfaction, they go into a saucepan together with everything else. I grate turmeric into the pan using a tiny mini-grater that was a Mother’s Day present from one of the grandkids. I love it!
Add a cup of water, bring this mess to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and don’t forget to stir often. It will only take a few minutes to thicken, and it’s ready.
It could be served just like this, warm or cold, and I am tempted to dip a piece of pita bread in it right now – for lack of lavash! I only hope that no Georgians are reading this because I’ll get sued for blasphemy. No-no-no! That was only a joke – I would never think of defiling this delicacy by using it as a simple dip!
P.S. Katmis Satsivi, i.e. the chicken, is coming up tomorrow.
- 1 cup walnuts, crushed
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- Large bunch of cilantro, crushed
- 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon vine vinegar
- Grated white turmeric to taste
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup hot water
- Use food processor to crush or grind walnuts, garlic, and cilantro, or do it by hand.
- Place in sauce pan, add the rest of ingredients.
- Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and stir often.
- Simmer for a few minutes until liquid evaporates and sauce thickens.
- Remove and serve cold with appetizers or use as sauce for main dishes.