Savory Blackberry (Rachuli) Sauce was one of the first sauces we tried when we arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia. For those that are unfamiliar, Georgia (formally the Republic of Georgia) is a post-Soviet country nestled between Armenia, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Black Sea. Before we arrived, we knew about the cheesy bread (khachapuri) and the dumplings (khinkali) for which the area is most famous. But other than that, we weren’t sure what to expect. And what we received was many pleasant surprises, such as the Rachuli, a savory sauce made with blackberries.
When we sat down at our first restaurant after our arrival, we ordered the khachapuri and a few khinkali. Then we asked the waiter for other recommendations, admitting that this was our first day. We settled on a chicken kabab (which is a ground spiced chicken formed and cooked on a skewer, and served with onions and wrapped in cloak of paper thin white bread. After we settled on the skewer, the waiter asked which sauce we wanted. We discovered that there was almost always a list of home made sauces to accompany dishes at the end of the menu. From spicy ajika sauce, a tomato sauce, mushroom sauce and frequently mayonnaise and mustard. He read our blank looks and suggested that he bring the Rachuli sauce, “it’s lovely,” he said. And it was.
We expected that we were going to be dousing our chicken in a sweet sticky sauce, and it was anything but. The flavors of the blackberries came through but married with garlic, fresh cilantro and other spices we couldn’t identify. That was true of much of what we ate in Georgia. Everything looks very familiar and simple, but ends up tasting complex and not quite like anything else you have ever had. A true foodie heaven!
The use of a spice blend called Khmeli suneli was partly responsible for our baffled pallets.
There are many variations, but blue fenugreek, ground coriander and dried marigold are almost always present. It’s a very distinct flavor that is commonly known as Georgian Curry. I’ve provided a substitute in the recipe. Here the sauce is paired with browned chicken breast fillets, but it goes well with poached or roasted chicken and so many other things. For a quick and unique weekday dinner, try buying a whole unseasoned rotisserie chicken and just make the sauce to go with it.
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 4 Tablespoons Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 Pound Fresh Blackberries Unsweetened, fresh or frozen and thawed
- 2 Cloves Garlic - minced
- 4 Tablespoons Finely minced Cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Khmeli Suneli Gerogian Spice Blend or substitute with equal parts ground tumeric, coriander and blue fenugreek)
- Pinch Red Cayenne Pepper
- Salt to taste
- Place flour and salt in a large plastic bag. Add the chicken breasts 2 at a time and shake to evenly coat them.
- Shake off excess.
- Add Vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed saute pan and heat to medium.
- Add the chicken and brown on both sides (about 5 minutes per side).
- Chicken should be cooked through (an internal temperature of 170 degrees)
- Place the blackberries (leaving a few to garnish) in a fine wire strainer.
- Press the berries in the strainer to extract the juice.
Yield about 2/3 cup - adjust seasoning depending on how much juice you are able to extract
Add the garlic, cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice and dry spices and mix thoroughly.
- Plate the chicken, drizzle with the sauce and garnish with the remaining berries
- Serve with additional sauce on the side.
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if you love Georgian Cuisine or are looking for a few recipes to branch out of the norm, here are a few additional Georgian recipes to try. You can also visit our International Recipes section to view our collection of recipes inspired by our ongoing travels around the world: