Racha is the only region where they make rectangular, triangular, and round khachapuri, with the round khachapuri being for a ritual, to sacrifice to the sun. There is a tradition in Racha of making decorated khachapuri with a seal attached. According to an ancient custom, Rachan carpenters make decoration tools out of wood. Nearly every family would have one, with it being an indispensable part of any young girl’s dowry, as she would have been taught how to use it, along with the recipes, by her mother.
Nowadays those decorators are preserved and protected in Rachan villages as part of a cherished tradition. Many people continue the culinary experience of their ancestors, still proudly hosting their guests with decorated pastries and celebrating their culinary artistry.
Racha is also well-known for three-cheese khachapuri, which is made in the village of Ghebi. Every kind of khachapuri has its own shape and purpose, but in every type of khachapuri, without exception, there are two main ingredients – flour and cheese.
Ganatekhi is one type of Rachan khachapuri, which traditionally was baked for church holidays and had a ritual purpose.
The woman of the family would begin preparing the ganatekhi, after praying for abundance, plenty, and the grace of God the night before. Dough leavened with yeast would be prepared with sifted flour, then the filling would be prepared with equal amounts of cheese and minced walnuts. The risen dough would be kneaded once more and separated into small balls. Once the filling would be wrapped into it, it would be flattened and baked. Early in the morning, without anyone seeing her or hearing her voice, she would take the path up to Mravaldzali Church barefoot and silently. Those in the church yard would break their khachapuri – hence the name “ganatekhi”, which means “broken” in Georgian. This was a sacred ritual to share gratitude and grace, and was only carried out by women.
Rachan walnuts are famous for their flavor and fat content, and thrifty housewives would store specially chosen ones for ganatekhi in autumn. The cheese would have to be fresh, which all families would have.
To prepare ganatekhi dough you will need:
1 kg bread flour;
½ liter warm water;
1 tsp salt;
1 tsp sugar;
1 tsp yeast.
For the filling you will need:
500 g walnuts;
500 g cheese.
Dissolve the yeast, salt, and sugar into warm water and knead well. Cover the kneaded dough with a towel and leave it to rise for half an hour. Then knead it once more, make it into a ball, and divide it into four pieces. If your baking area is small, you can divide it into five pieces. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Mince the walnuts, crumble the cheese, and mix them together well. Cut it into the same number of equal-sized balls as you have cut the dough into. Put the filling into the flattened dough, close up the dough, flatten it again, decorate it, and bake it in the oven.