What is Kubdari and how to make it
First of all, what is Kubdari and where did it come from?
This dish came from mountainous region of North Georgia, Svaneti, and is loved by all who try it, even if they have nothing to do with Georgia at all. It is a very specific dish and should be followed precisely, but it can be modified easily to fit your diet. Granted, it won’t be the original Kubdari, but when you cook, it should be more about the taste that works for you and less about the name.
In a nutshell, this delicacy is pretty much bread stuffed with meat, but the flavor that comes from the mix of Georgian spices is unmistakable. Traditional meat stuffing is made of onions, spices, and either beef, pork, or lamb, but I will be using chicken, so yes, I will make a slightly modified version, but you can use whatever meat you prefer.
The main spice that gives this dish such a specific flavor is called Gitsruli, which grows only in Svaneti region. It is so scarce, that even Georgians sometimes substitute it with a salted mix of cumin and thyme, which is what we will use in our recipe too.
I love making this dish myself, but because it involves preparing bread batter from scratch, many people prefer buying it. And you most certainly can buy it at Georgian or European stores and bakeries in all major US cities, but made by yourself food tastes better, at least I am convinced so. You also know exactly what kinds of ingredients go into the dish, how fresh they are, and if you need to make any substitutions.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the process of preparation of Kubdari:
What you will need for the bread:
- 3 cups of organic unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 cups of warm water
- 1 tbsp of organic dry yeast
- A pinch of Himalayan salt
What you will need for the meat filling:
- 3 pounds of organic skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large organic Vidalia or red onion
- 4 cloves of organic garlic
- Spices: coriander, dill, cumin, thyme, and fenugreek
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Himalayan salt
Making the yeast dough is a process that takes a few steps and takes a bit of time, so be ready for it. You can also make the batter one day, keep it in the refrigerator overnight and make the Kubdari the next day. To start the process, warm up the water, but don’t make it hot.
Stir the dry yeast into warm water and then pour this liquid into stand mixer bowl. Attach the hook attachment and start kneading slowly while adding flour.
3 cups of flour is a tentative amount, you can add more if you see that the batter is still too soft and sticky. Once it’s ready, the dough should be firm, but elastic.
Take the kneaded matter out of the bowl and place it in a wooden or plastic bowl, roomy enough for rising process. You can oil the walls of the bowl before putting the dough in. cover the bowl with a clean towel and place it in a warm place for about an hour. During this time you can focus on making the meat stuffing.
After about an hour the batter should be doubled in size. Push it down a few times with your fingers and place it back in the same spot, covered with towel, for another 30 minutes.
To prepare the meat, start by cutting your chicken thighs in as small pieces as you want. Some people even have it almost ground. This size of meat cubes is up to you.
Add all the spices and salt with pepper to the meat. My advice is to taste the meat and not go overboard with spices. It can be too much of a good thing if you let lose. Chop your onion, mince the garlic, and add everything to the stuffing. Mix thoroughly. How you chop the onion is also up to you, it can be large chunks or very small pieces.
After you are done with your meat, start preheating the oven to about 400 degrees.
Your dough should be fluffy and ready to go. Take it out of the bowl and place it on your floured work surface. Split the dough into 4 equal parts. Divide each part into two balls and then spread them, making circles out of them. Place the meat filling onto one circle, put another circle of dough on top fully covering the meat and seal them by pressing the edges together with fingers or fork.
Once you prepare all 4 Kubdari, place them on parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake them for about 15-20 minutes, until the edges of the dough start turning golden brown. If you feel that meat inside might not be fully done, you can bake them a little longer. Some chefs pre-cook the meat on a frying pan before stuffing the bread with it; it’s also up to you.
Take Kubdari out of the over, spread some butter over it and serve hot. Enjoy!