Primary Tastes | Sour

Can you read a recipe and recognize what ingredients are responsible for sweet, salty/savory, sour, pungent/spicy/earthy, or bitter notes? They are different in different cuisines, and they are part of a cuisine identity.

During the cooking, we combine basic tastes to achieve a good balance on our taste buds. Let’s look at one of them, sour. European and Mediterranean cuisines are known for their use of fruit and wine vinegar. Tamarind pulp is common as a souring agent all over Asia. Latin-American recipes often list lime or key lime juice instead. Easter-European cuisines widely use pickled and fermented vegetables.

Tkemali | Green Plums

The Middle East and Mediterranean spring dishes feature sour (unripe, with soft white pit) stone fruit as their favorite seasonal souring agents — almonds, apricots, and plums. Combined with fresh greens and spices, they magically transform meat and poultry stews into refreshing, flavorful dishes. In Austin, you can find fresh green almonds and plums around Easter in Pheonicia Bakery. The season is now!

Texas Grass-Fed Lamb

The recipe below is a modified version of Chakapuli (Georgian: ჩაქაფული), a Georgian stew made with onions, lamb neck, unripe cherry plums (tkemali), fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill, cilantro, tarragon), garlic and salt. It is considered to be one of the most popular dishes in Georgia.

Choosing the right lamb cut for the dish is crucial. This dish is cooked low and slow to make sure all flavors are developed. Lean lamb will become tough and dry at the end of the process. We need something with bones and connective tissues. The best cuts, in this case, are the leg and the neck of lamb. The neck is often sold as a cross cut steak and makes this dish very flavorful. This recipe doesn’t use any additional liquid. The meat is cooked in its own juices.

Lamb can be substituted with chicken thighs, boneless or bone-in.

Lamb Stew with Green Apricots

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Georgian
Keyword: fruit, lamb, lycooking, lyukum cooking lab, meat, recipe
Servings: 2 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lamb neck steaks, Texas grass-fed
  • 1 each onion
  • 3 cloves garlic fresh, optional
  • 0.25 each serrano sliced
  • 2 handful green plums
  • 2 tbsp khmeli suneli dry spice mix
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 3 each scallions

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 300F. Season lamb neck steaks with salt and pepper and place on the bottom of a deep baking dish.
    Texas Grass-Fed Lamb Neck Steaks
  • Sliver onions and garlic cloves and spread on top of the lamb. Add a few slices of serrano chili pepper, to your taste. Omit chili if you prefer no heat in your dish or add more if you like the heat level higher.
    Making Chakapuli, Lamb and Green Plums Stew
  • Wash and finely chop herbs and scallions and spread half of the mix, add spices, add green plums, and finally add the rest of the herbs on top.
    Making Chakapuli, Lamb and Green Plums Stew
  • Cover the dish with a lid or foil and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Your meal is ready when the meat comes off the bone easily.
    Chakapuli, Lamb and Green Plums Stew
  • Remove the bones and mix the lamb with the herbs and green plums. Serve hot with fresh flatbread.
    Chakapuli, Lamb and Green Plums Stew

Notes

Read more about Georgian spice mix Khmeli Suneli in Megrelian Kharcho posting.
Chakapuli, Lamb and Green Plums Stew