Kalti is a dairy product, made using a complex method, and is one of the hallmarks of Tusheti. Traditionally, kalti is an ecologically pure shepherd’s food, adapted to the climatic and geographical conditions of the high mountains.
Kalti has a long history, and was usually made on the summer pastures. After making guda cheese, the shepherds would put the remaining whey on the fire, stir it with a wooden spoon so it wouldn’t stick to the bottom, and bring it to boil before pouring it into a cloth bag and hanging it up in the sun to drain. Finally, they would salt it, knead it, arrange it in balls on a wooden board or in a wicker basket (called a “kishte”), and let it dry. To get fresh kalti, they would place it into a sheepskin – as they would with guda cheese,. Fresh kalti is soft, with its own taste and smell.
Kalti is a high-calorie product. Since dry kalti is light, keeps for a long time, and is characterized by its antiseptic properties, it has been used by soldiers, shepherds, and hunters since time immemorial. At first, kalti was only made for local use, since it could be eaten during winter along with the local beer. Now, it also attracts city-dwellers and is one of the most expensive dairy products. It can be purchased in late autumn in the markets of Telavi and Akhmeta.
Khachapuri baked with kalti is a delicious exemple of the local cuisine and attracts the attention of visitors and travelers to Tusheti. Traditionally, kotori dough was kneaded without yeast, but more recently it has also been made with leavened dough.
Ingredients for the dough:
500 g flour;
250 ml milk;
50 ml oil;
½ tsp salt;
Ingredients for the filling:
500 gr kalti (or dry, oily cottage cheese);
1 tsp salt;
2 tbsp clarified butter.
Beat the kalti (and/or cottage cheese) well and leave it in the refrigerator for one or two days. When making the kotori, take it out and mix it with the salt and one tablespoon of clarified butter.
Dissolve the salt into warm milk, gradually adding the flour, and knead the dough with oily hands. Put it in a bowl, cover it with a towel, and leave it in a warm place.
Once the dough has settled, separate it into four balls. Flatten each ball as much as possible and fill them with generous balls of filling. Then close it up, flatten it, and fry both sides on a pan.
Kotori is often filled with a mixture of guda cheese and aged, wet cottage cheese. The main thing is not to forget the last step, which is coating the kotori with clarified Tushetian butter.