Megrelians will tell you that the making of gebzhalia is a ritual dedicated to the sun. This opinion is strengthened by the fact that the Megrelian word for both “sun” and “milk” is bzha.
The traditional shape of gebzhalia is also round, like the sun, although the dish can be made in a variety of shapes.
Gebzhalia is fairly easy to make, but, as Megrelian housewives will tell you, knowing the recipe to make it and having cooking skills is not enough. Making a good gebzhalia requires, first and foremost, love for your friends and guests.
Chkinti (squiky fresh) cheese or very fresh sulguni;
150 g nadughi, if desired;
50 g crushed mint;
30 g fresh coriander;
2-3 cloves garlic;
Salt, to taste;
Fresh green pepper, to taste, if desired.
Take a pot with a thick base, pour water into it, and boil it.
Cut the fresh squicky cheese or fresh sulguni into thin pieces and gradually put them into the boiled water.
Lower the heat, take a wooden spoon, and start stirring the cheese in the pot.
As soon as the cheese pieces congeal into a single mass and the surface starts to bubble, you should remove the cheese ball from the pot, put it onto a wooden board, and flatten it like khachapuri dough.
You will also need to make the filling for the flattened cheese separately.
Crush the mint, fresh coriander, two cloves of garlic, and, if desired, the fresh green pepper and salt together. You can also add the nadughi.
Spread this mixture liberally over the flattened cheese, roll it up, then cut it into pieces of medium thickness.
Lastly, if you kneaded the cheese in milk, then dissolve the remaining filling in it, if not, then dissolve it in yoghurt, beat it well, and place the cheese rolls in the resulting sauce.
There are a few other key things to keep in mind when making and serving gebzhalia, as highlighted below:
Gebzhalia is made in milk, but it can also be made in water.
Do not knead the warm mass of cheese for too long, or the gebzhalia will become too dense. Gebzhalia made from lightly kneaded cheese is instead soft and airy.
Make sure to flatten the cheese taken from the pot before it cools. The hot cheese will stick to your hands better.
You can use fresh mint leaves to garnish the gebzhalia.
Gebzhalia is traditionally eaten with ghomi.
Housewives make gebzhalia in different ways in different parts of Samegrelo – with nadughi, with cottage cheese, with milk, with sour cream – but you should know that it is delicious everywhere.