Chakhokhbili. I can’t blame you if your first urge was to say Gesundheit when you read this. Yes, sounds a lot like a sneeze, and for some people it is very hard to pronounce. Khokhobi in Georgian means pheasant. Traditionally this dish was made with pheasant, but chicken took its rightful place right next to pheasant because it is so inexpensive and easily obtained. And while pronounciation might be a bit troublesome to you, putting this flavorful dish together is ridiculously easy and requires no special skills other than chopping onions and herbs.
Like with anything else wildly popular, there are plenty of versions of this dish available. The only requirement for chakhokhbili is to have a bird, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Everything else is up to a cook. I’ve read somewhere that one of the requirements is to cook chicken without any additional fat for 15 minutes before adding anything else to the pot. I would probably do so, had I not had skinless boneless thighs. To cook that without fat is calling for trouble. Next time I have the whole chicken, or at least some skin and bones with the meat, I will definitely try this technique.
Below recipe is my spin on chakhokhbili. I added green peas to it, just for color and added textural interest. I also cooked it with white wine, which I often do when I am out of stock. The herbs I used were that special “whatever is in the fridge” bouquet. I happened to have a nice variety simply because I love herbs and have a variety on hand most of the time. This is not a must. But you do need fresh herb(s) of some sort if you want to end up with fragrant dish. Fresh ripe tomatoes will work best, but frankly they are not in season right now and therefore aren’t as flavorful; also I don’t like to deal with blanching, peeling, seeding and chopping, so canned version will do just fine in this case. I happened to have canned organic fire roasted tomatoes which are very tasty and work their magic in any dish no worse than the fresh ones.
Enjoy the recipe and feel free to improvise.
Chakhokhbili With Green Peas
- 4 tbsp chicken fat or butter
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 6-8 cloves garlic, slivered
- 3 lbs chicken meat, preferably a mix of white and dark, best with skin and bones for added flavor
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp dry basil
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- juice of 1/2 lemon (about 3 tbsp)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes or 6-8 ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup white wine or chicken stock
- 1-1/2 cup green peas
- variety (or at least one) of fresh herbs, finely chopped — dill, parsley, cilantro (best), basil, mint, tarragon (best)
- Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add onions and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5-6 minutes, or until onions are no longer juicy and are translucent and very fragrant.
- Add chicken, stir well and let it cook with onions until it’s no longer pink anywhere. Stir once in a while to rotate.
- Add dry spices, salt and pepper to taste, stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, stock (wine) and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes
- Add peas at this time, and about half of the herbs you chopped. Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add the remaining chopped herbs and stir.
Serve with rice or flat bread.