Kharcho

E. Europe / House Blend

This traditional seasoning for Georgian beef soup has a distinctive flavor from fenugreek leaf and caraway with additional savory spices and a touch of chile. Try this blend in beef or lamb stew, or pot roast.

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Paul Weiss
5 months ago

Kharcho is a terrific "white" beef stew! This is a combination of 4 different recipes from books I have, all of which are a bit different.

1 1/2 to 2 lbs beef chuck, cut into bite-sized cubes. Trim it well, so there won’t be too much fat skimming to do while cooking the beef.

Put the beef into a pot of lightly-salted water; enough to generously cover it, and enough to end up with a soupy stew. Start off only with some salt and a small handful of whole peppercorns in the water. Don’t over-salt; you can always add more later, but…

Bring to a full boil one time, and scum the pot. Lower the heat to a simmer; not more.

At this point add a handful of whole parsley branches, a small fresh hot pepper (a ripe Thai bird chile works fine), some cut up carrot and celery (cut to a Mirepoix, but no onions at this point), and a couple of Mediterranean bay leaves. Simmer for 2 hours at 180ºF or 190ºF. Skim the pot of excess fat, if you’ve been sloppy about your trimming during prep.

Throw out the aromatics. Take the beef out, rinse it, and put it aside. It’s fully cooked, and will only be heated through again as the last step before serving.

Skim the fat one last time. Pass the liquid through a fine China cap or a butter cloth, then wash the pot out, or use a new pot, and put the cleaned broth back into the pot. (I use a 5 qt enameled cast-iron Fontegnac, so that’s about the capacity you’ll need) Bring it to a boil. No meat is in the pot at this point.

Put a couple of cups of the hot broth into the VitaMix with 6 or 8 dried apricots, and purée them with one large clove of raw garlic to make a slurry. Put that aside for a few minutes. (Apricot was suggested by 2 of my 4 recipes as a substitute for a more-traditional ingredient. See the note at the end of this recipe.)

Put 1/2 to 3/4 cup of raw long-grain rice into the pot. Let the broth come to a full boil again, then turn the heat down to a slow boil. Put 2 tablespoons of the World Spice Kharcho spice/herb mix (https://www.worldspice.com/blends/kharcho) in the spice grinder until it’s finely ground, and put that in the boiling soup. (Their mix is made of dehydrated chopped garlic, Fenugreek Leaf, Coriander Seed, Hungarian Paprika, Caraway Seed, Japones chile, Tellicherry Black Peppercorn, and Savory. Fenugreek leaf is the dominating flavor.)

Add a couple of tablespoons of finely-chopped or ground nuts. Walnut is traditional, but raw, unsalted, unsweetened almond butter is delicious as well.

When the rice is fully cooked, add the puréed apricot/garlic slurry back into the pot along with a couple of tablespoons of pomegranate molasses, and cook for another 10 minutes.

Soften (not brown) 2 or 3 thinly-sliced onions in butter. As the last step, turn the heat off, add the softened onions and the reserved cooked beef back into the pot, and let that stuff get reheated by the hot stew. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with lots of finely-chopped fresh cilantro; each diner throws it into his/her bowl to taste.

End of recipe.

Ingredient note:

The dried apricot is a substitution for a different and more traditional ingredient: Georgian sour plum, also known in English as cherry plum. The Georgian name (transliterated) is Tkemali. I don’t know how to use the Georgian character set, so I won’t try to write anything in it. The Russian name is Ткемали, and the Ukrainian form is Ткемалі The name is used both for the cherry plum itself, and for a condiment sauce with several other ingredients in it — spices and herbs — which is used both as a table condiment and as a cooking ingredient. The sauce is available in the US from www.GeorgianGourmet.com. I haven’t found a source for the fruit itself; it’s not available from any of the Ukrainian or Russian grocery stores I go to.

The cherry plum fruit is also made up into a fruit leather called Tklapi, which might work just as well (or even better) for Kharcho instead of the prepared sauce. The Russian name for that fruit leather is Тклапи, and the Ukrainian name is Тклапі. If I find that, I’ll whiz it up just as I do with the dried apricots. If you find it before I do, please tell me how it worked out, and where you got it!

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Garlic, Ind. Coriander, Fenugreek Lf, Paprika, Caraway, Blk Pepper, Savory, and Japones
  • Double sized kharcho whole 2
Mixed by hand,
Ground to order,
when you order