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Georgian walnut sauce (Bazhe)

Walnuts are an essential ingredient in Georgian cuisine being used in several dishes from hearty stews to this elegant dip/sauce. Bazhe is a sauce that is unique to Georgia and found across the country with variations. It is essentially ground walnuts with a mix of spices, mainly marigold petals and blue fenugreek and other ingredients that are unique to the region. The sauce is used to pour over grilled meats or with meats in slow-braised dishes.

Here I wanted to highlight this sauce by making it more as a dip for crudités. The dip is nutty from the walnuts and the dried marigold and blue fenugreek add earthy tones that a wonderfully. The bright pop of pomegranate seeds completes the dish with a light sweetness. I like to leave the dip with chunks of walnuts so that my guests have some texture.

The Heritage of Georgian Taste is a massive tome that pays homage to the elegant cuisine of a new nation. I found this book in the museum in Tbilisi during my last trip and knew that I had to carry this large book back as an addition to my library. The recipes are very authentic and each recipe is introduced with a note on its history and the special ingredients used. The recipes are authentic and the flavours remind me of the fabulous food that I enjoyed during my travels across Georgia. The recipes range from essential dips and appetizers like rolled eggplant with walnuts to hearty stews and salads.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.




Ingredients:

1/2 cup walnuts

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon ground blue fenugreek

1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground dried marigold flowers

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 cup water + as needed

Salt, to taste

Pomegranate seeds


For the crudités, Use any combination of 4 vegetables at the least.

Carrots cut into batons

Cucumbers, cut into batons

Yellow bell peppers, cut into strips

Broccoli florets

Cauliflower florets

Radish cut into batons

Celery sticks

Raw beets cut into batons

Zucchini cut into batons

Yellow squash cut into batons

Others


Toast the walnuts on a dry frying pan till aromatic. Cool completely.


Add 1/2 the walnuts with the rest of the ingredients, except the pomegranate seeds, to a small blender and blitz to a smooth paste. Remove into a small bowl.


Chop the rest of the walnuts unevenly and mix them into the sauce. Taste for salt, vinegar and herbs. Adjust as needed. You want a very thick sauce. Let the sauce sit for at least 1 hour.


Serve at room temperature with the vegetables.


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