Author of the critically acclaimed cookbook Mamushka, Olia Hercules has created Kaukasis, featuring culinary samplings from the Caucasus region (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, Russia, and Turkey).
This is a different kind of cookbook than what I normally see. It combines European and Middle Eastern ingredients in a fresh new way. The book is dedicated to recipes entirely, with beautiful full-page pictures and a mere two-page introduction.
As many of the recipes are unfamiliar to western cuisine, it is especially wonderful that this book includes a paragraph of explanation for each recipe. It is this kind of additional information and detail which really personalises this book and adds so much value.
Not Your Typical CookBook
The first chapter of recipes is called “roots, shoots, leaves & all”. These are vegetables recipes but include a great deal of variety. There is a “Homemade Matsoni” recipe, which is a type of yoghurt. With this recipe, you will need a special starter which may prove difficult to source. If this is the case the author invites you to contact them directly to get some. Not exactly the type of thing you’d see in a typical recipe book.
The next chapter of recipes is “flour & ash” You will find some bread recipes, pies, and another deliciousness here. Although not every recipe has its own picture, many of the pictures are actually of the regional cooks creating them, which is so much more interesting. The recipes have unique names that are not easily recognisable and use unusual ingredients. But if you want to create some authentic cuisine from the region, this is expected.
Next is the “beasts from land, sea & air” with all of the meat-related recipes. The author enjoys a flexitarian diet and believes meat is a treat or for special occasions. Whether you have meat daily, or just once in awhile, these recipes look delicious.
The Hangover Chapter
The next chapter was almost entitled “hangover chapter”, but it is now “pain, be gone!” Not strictly for hangovers, these recipes are for those who need extra nutrition. Get the nourishment you need to help recover from that cold or relieve that aching head here. These recipes are very nutrient filled and would likely do the trick to restore the imbalance caused by overindulgence.
Last but not least is the chapter I have been waiting for, “sweet in the tooth” with all of those lovely recipes my sweet tooth desires. I am definitely going to have to pull this book out again in the spring, so I can go foraging in my back forest for young pinecones and try the Pinecone Conserve recipe. It is intriguing since I didn’t realise you could actually eat pinecones and enjoy the taste at the same time. The last recipe in the book “Lilianas lemon and dulce de leche cake” was a good choice because what a recipe to wind up the book! The cake looks good enough to eat out of the picture.
After all the recipes are done there are a few pages with details about various ingredients and sources. These might help you get those hard to find items which will make or break the recipe.
Clearly, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recipes, as I have never eaten anything from the Caucasus region. The background information, the level of detail from each recipe, however, really does create an authentic feel. Since this recipe does actually include an invitation from the author for you to contact them directly, the Homemade Matsoni recipe I mentioned above, is the one I am including below. Enjoy!