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Nov 16, 2010 09:39 AM

Lobio (Georgian bean dish)

I was introduced to this Georgian (that's Georgia as in Tbilisi, not Atlanta) dish at a dinner party last weekend and became an instant fan. It's basically red beans prepared with minced onions & herbs, but from the quick research I've done on it, apparently it can go in either of two directions - sweet, like the one I had, which contained chopped nuts and pomegranate, or savory, with garlic, vinegar, and (optionally?) crumbled feta cheese.

I'm looking forward to trying the sweet version as a side dish with my slow-smoked baby backs, and the savory version strikes me as a great main course when I have vegetarian guests.

Any other fans out here? Any favorite recipes?

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  1. Oh, yes! The savory Lobio is wonderful.

    Also from Georgian cuisine is one of my favorites, Chicken Satsivi - chicken in a walnut sauce. I had this (and Lobio) at a Georgian restaurant in Moscow near Red Square, called Kavkaz, and at first glance, the satsivi was not all that appealing- chicken smothered in a brownish-grey lumpy sauce, but my goodness, one bite and I was sold.

    I also like khachapuri - a cheesy stuffed bread. Mmm. :)

    1. I've never had the dish but have always been intrigued by it. Both the sweet and savory recipes appear in Paula Wolfert's well-researched and underrated book, The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean (which has quite a few Georgian recipes in it). If you're looking for recipes I'd go to her first.

      2 Replies
      1. re: CoconutMilk

        Also recommended in addition to Wolfert's TCOTEM are the more focused "Georgian Feast" by Darra Goldstein and "The Classic Cuisine of Soviet Georgia" by Julianne Margvelashvili. In Georgia the sauce for the red lobio is made with sour tkemali plums; Western recipes sometimes substitute the likes of tamarind + balsamico to approximate but it's not the same. You can often find bottled imported tkemali sauce (both red and green) in Russian delis/groceries; some of the brands are quite good and it's nice not only in lobio but with grilled meats etc. too.

        1. re: JP_nyc

          I have all three cookbooks and I love to cook Georgian. I always check Goldstein's and Margvelashvili, but find Wolfert's recipes for comparable dishes more complex and seemingly more authentic. I love TCOTEM...I got it when it was published in 1994 and initially felt overwhelmed, but I go back to it every few months and by this point, have tried about 40% of the recipes. Loved them all. It's an astonishing book.

      2. Here's an article that includes a lobio recipe involving plums:

        1. Annnnnd bookmarked. Sounds good!

          1. I just made lobio for the first time a couple weeks ago as we were featuring Georgia for Independence Day (National Day of Unity). Everyone at home just loved it! I even found blue fenugreek (utskho suneli) at a local online store, which made this lobio really authentic. Made my own mchadi (Georgian bread) too. Easy and the real deal. I will definitely make lobio again!