Fabulous flavors come together with fenugreek, garlic, and walnuts in this naturally low carb, gluten-free traditional Georgian dish. Out of all Georgian food, Georgian eggplant with walnuts, or badrijani nigvzit, is definitely a staple at any Georgian dinner party!
My husband just got back from visiting family for Orthodox Easter in Georgia (the country not the state). Georgians take great pride in hospitality and welcoming guests into their homes and do a fabulous job of it. Much emphasis is placed on the Georgian supra, or dinner party, where plates of traditional foods are stacked one on top of the other.
Georgians give toasts to God, peace, the guests, the children, Georgia, your country, and many others. While I love the Georgian cheese bread (khachapuri), desserts, and meats, one of my favorite keto-friendly side dishes is badrijani nigvzit.
Georgian eggplant with walnuts. I love Georgian food!
Okay, I admit when I first tried it, I was not used to eggplant. Actually, I had to work up my courage to taste and then enjoy it. To an American palate, it’s not a regular dish but once you do the flavors are oh so good! There’s a reason it’s on a plate at nearly every Georgian table on special occasions.
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When I was alone, I lived on eggplant, the stove top cook’s strongest ally….
What Georgian food will you find at a traditional dinner supra?
Like I said, my husband just returned from Georgia, and after Easter Georgian households celebrate and tend to eat a lot! They take great joy when friends, neighbors, and family come over to share a meal. The food and wine are traditional, abundant, and accompanied by music and laughter!
Before Orthodox Easter, or აღდგომა aghdgoma, religious Georgians fast from animal products, eat little, and are almost vegan for a time. Therefore, when it’s time to say, “Christ is risen!” a celebration and feast for days begin.
Plate upon plates are stacked on top of each other, filled with amazing dishes. Guests are encouraged to eat and drink as much as possible and have a good time. Guitars are brought out for singing and dance.
It’s also a fun time to prepare food with the family! Generally, the women bake sweet and savory breads, prepare salads, and make sure there are enough different kinds of meat and side dishes. There’s wine, coffee, and dessert, and people can sit at the table all day.
What about it? Shall we make one of those side dishes?
To make Georgian food you’ll need:
- a spatula
- skillet or frying pan
- measuring cups and spoons
- food processor or mortar and pestle
- large bowls
- mandolin slicer (optional)
🍆 How to select an eggplant
When I first started to make this dish when I returned to the United States, I bought normal bulb eggplant. Unfortunately, the finished recipe did not taste or look like I remembered. The problem with the big eggplant is that it is slightly more bitter and eggplanty, and not the right size for folding like the eggplant used in Georgia.
I looked around at local grocery stores and finally found what I was looking for. In Georgia, they use a long thin eggplant. Therefore, the closest I have found to the same variety is called a Chinese eggplant in most stores.
I’ve found it most often at my local Sprout’s farmer’s market, and you may also have more luck at smaller natural produce or farmer’s market-type locations.
I’m even planning to grow it this year in my garden!
How to make fried Georgian eggplant with walnuts
To begin, gather all the ingredients and supplies together. Second, slice the Chinese eggplants lengthwise to about ⅓ of an inch thick. I like to use a mandolin slicer for this process but a regular knife works if you prefer.
Now we’re going to let the eggplant “weep” and get as much of the bitter flavor out as we can. Lay the eggplant out on towels and salt it liberally. Next, leave it there untouched for about half an hour and turn it over and salt the other side. Then let it sit another half hour or so.
The eggplant should “weep”, and the bitter liquid seeps out. Now rinse off the liquid and salt and pat them dry.
Next, get out a skillet or frying pan, and heat the oil over medium heat. Now fry the eggplant slices in batches for about 2 minutes on each side. When they’ve slightly browned, remove them to a dish and cover.
How to make the filling
Next, for the filling, take out a food processor (or pestle and mortar) and place in it all the rest of the ingredients: the walnuts, water, garlic, coriander, vinegar, salt, pepper, and fenugreek (or Georgian utskho suneli and kviteli qvaveli if you have it).
Process it all on high for forty seconds or so then unplug and spoon down the sides with a spatula. Continue to process it on high until everything’s thoroughly combined in a rough paste.
Tip: Refrigerate the filling for 2 hours or overnight, as the flavors need time to set and blend together. If the garlic tastes a little strong, the next day it shouldn’t (so says the garlic-lover).
Allergy tip: Can I tell you a little secret? Most of the time I actually substitute blanched almonds in this dish instead of walnuts. Why? Well, I love walnuts, but another in the household has a severe allergy to walnuts but not almonds. If you need to work with an allergy, try other nuts or even seeds that aren’t a problem.
How to fill the eggplant
First, take one strip of the eggplant and spread about a tablespoon of filling on half of it. Second, fold the strip in half evenly like a book with the filling in the middle.
Lastly, arrange them on a plate or serving platter and garnish with some chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds if they’re in season! The Georgian foods look an array of colors during the summer.
Lately, I’ve not been able to get pomegranates but love that little tang the seeds bring and aesthetically for the beautiful color! Soon, soon my pretties!
Georgian food and traditional recipes
Over the next few months, I’ll be featuring different traditional Georgian recipes. Some are already gluten-free and low carb like this staple side dish, Georgian eggplant with walnuts. Others, like khinkali, or meat dumplings are not, but I’ll share recipes for the traditional way to make them and a gluten-free option!
So if you’ve been to Georgia or just like to try another culture’s classic dishes, I hope you follow along on my Georgian food journey. Until next time! Nakh vam dis!
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🌍 Learn more about the country of Georgia
Check out these other articles on Georgia:
- Georgian Language Phrases for Travelers
- Unforgettable Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia
- How to Make Traditional Georgian Bread
- Top 10 Things to do in Batumi, Georgia with kids!
- Tbilisi, Georgia: Doors and Windows
- 3 medium-sized Chinese eggplant
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp ground fenugreek (Georgian utskhro suneli)
- 1 tsp ground corriander
- ¼ tsp red pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup water
- cilantro to garnish
- pomegranate seeds to garnish
- Slice the Chinese eggplant lengthwise to about ⅓ of an inch thick. Use a mandolin slicer or regular knife.
- Lay the eggplant out on towels and salt it liberally. Leave it for half an hour and turn it over and salt the other side. It should "weep" and the bitter liquid seeps out. Rinse and pat dry.
- Heat the oil over medium heat and fry the eggplant slices in batches about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a dish and cover.
- For the filling, take out a food processor (or pestle and mortar) and place in it all the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro and pomegranate seeds for garnish. Process on high for forty seconds or so then unplug and push down the sides with a spatula. Continue to process on high until thoroughly combined in a rough paste.
- Refrigerate the filling for 2 hours or overnight, as the flavors need time to set and blend together.
- Take one strip of the eggplant at a time and fill each with about a tablespoon of filling, folding the strip evenly like a book with the filling in the middle.
- Garnish with roughly chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Serve at room temperature.
Servings 18.0 Amount Per Serving Calories: 78 Total Fat 7 g Saturated Fat 1 g Monounsaturated Fat 3 g Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g Trans Fat 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 33 mg Potassium 158 mg Total Carbohydrate 4 g Dietary Fiber 2 g Sugars 2 g Protein 1 g
Nutrition Information:Yield: 18
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Unsaturated Fat: 0g
*Nutrition Facts per MyFitnessPal.com. For the most accurate facts, calculate your own with the exact ingredients you use in the recipe.