Ossetian Khachapuri

Ossetian Khachapuri

Known as Ossetian khachapuri or khabidzgina, this type of khachapuri is traditionally made by Ossetians in a small and beautiful part of Georgia, Tskhinvali Region. The milk and dairy products there are distinguished for their high fat content. Thus, for genuine khabidzgina, only high-fat Ossetian cheese is used. It is probable that the inclusion of potatoes in the filling is supposed to neutralize the high fat content, as they absorb fat and salt well.

What Should Khabidzgina Be Like? 

You will find khabidzgina all around Shida Kartli, at festive and mourning feasts. Some people add onion and garlic to its filling, but, traditionally, khabidzgina is made with only Ossetian cheese, potatoes, and clarified butter. The dough layer should be very thin, with a copious filling. Some like to bake their khabidzgina in oil, but most prefer to bake it without. Crucially, if the khabidzgina is to be brought to the table hot, then it should be baked in oil, but if it is intended for the following day or days, or is to be transported, then it should be baked dry.

Khabidzgina keeps well and maintains a rich flavor, is high in calories and delicious. It is beloved by adults and children alike, and can be taken and consumed while traveling, hunting, or camping.

Khabidzgina among Ossetians

Khabidzgina has taken on great importance among Ossetians. It is not just a part of their cuisine, nor just a source of nutritional value, but its preparation is considered a kind of sacred ritual, symbolizing the sun, water, and earth. As such, khabidzgina is prepared on every holy holiday, and brought to the places of worship. It is traditionally baked in a tone oven, giving it a special taste and aroma. 

How to Prepare Khabidzgina

Baking khabidzgina is not difficult.

For the dough, you will need:

½ liter warm water;

1 tbsp sugar;

2 tsp salt;

1 tbsp yeast;

100 ml oil; and

1 kg bread flour.

For the filling, you will need:

1 kg potatoes;

½ kg high-fat Ossetian cheese; and

150 g clarified butter.

Preparation Instructions

Mix dry yeast into 2-3 cups of flour. Dissolve the salt and sugar into the warm water, pour it over the yeasty flour and mix it together well. Gradually add the rest of the flour, knead it with oil, and leave it to rise. The dough should be soft.

Boil average-sized potatoes in their skins and then peel them. First put the cheese and then the potatoes through a meat grinder, mix them in the clarified butter and salt, and then knead it all together well with warm milk, to make the filling softer.

Make balls of a similar size from the dough and the filling. Then, flatten the dough slightly, put the filling on top, close it up, and flatten it again.

Bake the khabidzgina on both sides on a heated pan. When you flip it over, spread the clarified butter over the other side as well.


Shakharijani or Chakhrakina

There are varieties of Ossetian khachapuri including shakharijani, also called chakhrakina, which is made with herbs. It is made with the same dough leavened with yeast, but differs in its filling. Some attest that dough kneaded with whey cheese delivers the tastiest results.

For the dough, you will need:

1 kg wheat flour;

500-600 g warm whey cheese;

1 tsp salt;

50 g butter;

50 ml oil;

10 g dry yeast; and

1 tsp sugar.

For the filling, you will need:

1 kg beetroot leaves;

100 g green onions;

1 bunch of coriander;

1 bunch of dill;

600 g cheese;

50 g butter; and 

Salt to taste. 

Preparation Instructions

Whey Cheese 

Mix the dry yeast, sugar, and one tablespoon of flour in a small bowl. Then, pour a small amount of warm water into it and mix together. Put the activated yeast into the flour and add the salt and whey (or an equal mixture of water and milk). Knead it for 5-10 minutes, then pour the oil into it, knead it again, then take the ball of dough and put it into a warm place and cover it with a towel.

Cut the beetroot leaves finely, put them in a bowl, salt them and leave for an hour. Mince the coriander, dill, and onions, then grate the cheese.

Wring the salted beetroot leaves well, to squeeze all the water out, then add the herbs, cheese, and oil, and mix well. From this mixture, make about five small balls. 

Separate the dough into five pieces. Put one of the filling balls onto each one, close up the top, flatten them, and make a small hole in the center, for air. Bake them in the oven at 200 degrees or on both sides in a pan. You should also spread butter over them once they have finished baking.

The various forms of Ossetian khachapuri offer a delightful taste, and will satisfy your hunger for many hours. 


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