Beet Pkhali – Favorite Georgian Appetizer

Pkhali is a traditional Georgian dish which comes in many forms and colors. It’s usually made with different vegetable, fresh herbs, garlic, and of course plenty of walnuts. In Georgian they make it with beans, beet leaves, and chard, but two of the most famous variations, which were adopted by other countries, are Beet and Spinach Pkhali. Those saturated vegetable juices add not only distinguished flavors but also attractive bright colors to a dish which otherwise may look like a plain grayish paste.

However, color and flavor are not the only differences. The consistency varies as well. It goes from a thick paste you can shape into a ball, or a bullet, to a pate-like spread. That’s why sometimes people serve them formed as individual pieces arranged on a platter, or in a more rustic way – just in a shallow bowl as is. But no matter the style or consistency, the garnish is always very traditional – cilantro, pomegranate seeds, and walnut halves. Very often, the most delicious stuff doesn’t require any additional decoration.

I always cook Pkhali at my pop-up dinners, and it quickly became one of my signature starters. People love to eat it with Lavash – Georgian Flatbread or even spread it over some rye bread, which is more Ukrainian way to enjoy this dish. Today I will share my Beet Pkhali recipe with you. Hopefully, it will become one of those simple dishes that will wow your guests and become a favorite party appetizer. For more interesting facts about Georgian cuisine, you might want to check my post The World According to Georgia. I also added a more advanced recipe – the one and only Adjarian Khachapuri. This one is definitely a show stopper and one of the most gorgeous looking cheese bread in the world.

Beet Pkhali - Favorite Georgian Appetizer

Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 medium size beets, about 1 lb total
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • small bunch cilantro
  • small bunch parsley
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Method

  1. Put the beets in a medium large pot fillet with water. Bring to a boil and cook the beets until tender, about 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the beets from the hot water and them let cool down for 15 min.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food possessor, process the cilantro, parsley, walnuts and garlic. Set aside.
  4. When the beets are cool enough to handle peel and then grate them using a fine grater.
  5. Mix the grated beets with the walnut paste. Season to taste with the vinegar and spices.
  6. Refrigerate the Pkhali for at least an hour before serving. Georgian people say it's always better the next day!

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