A true masterpiece of Megrelian cuisine, Elarji only takes two ingredients to make – cornmeal and cheese. But it’s not one of your no-fuss recipes. And it may become one of your cooking fails, if you don’t observe all the nuances involved in making it. Our contributor in Zugdidi Natia Kankia is revealing how to pull it off.
What you need:
1 kg of coarse cornmeal
200 g of fine cornmeal (flour)
1,5 kg of Sulguni cheese
How you do it:
You’ve got to sift the coarse cornmeal and rinse it as thoroughly as possible (a bona fide Megrelian housewife will rinse it repeatedly, changing the water at least 25 times, until the cornmeal is white as can be).
Pour water over it, put it on the stovetop and bring it to a boil. Use a wooden (!) spoon to stir it. In case you intend to cook Elarji often, you’d better get yourself “chogani – a special wooden spatula that is a tool every kitchen in Samegrelo has. Let the mush simmer (you haven’t forgotten to reduce the heat to low after it started to boil, have you?), stirring it constantly with “chogani. Don’t let it out of your sight until it’s fully cooked – in about 45 minutes.
You’ll know it’s ready when it’s become thick and hard to stir. Once it is, add corn flour (one tumbler of it, you remember, don’t you?). Stir energetically until the flour is fully incorporated. Lower the heat (again) and cook for another 30 minutes. (By the way, if you stop here, you will have made ghomi, another culinary staple in Western Georgia.)
Now it is time for you to see to the cheese. Cut it up, sprinkle it with salt (a pinch should be enough) and let it stand for some time. Put a pan on the stove and pour half a glass of water into it. Once the water has boiled, put a small chunk of Sulguni into it. Squash the cheese with your spatula. If it melts and stretches, it’s ready for the next level.
Throw the cheese into the mush, stir thoroughly, let it simmer for a minute and then stir again. If the mush has gotten stretchy, your Elarji is, finally, ready. Take it out onto plates and serve it hot.
We recommend that you watch the video again to make sure you haven’t missed anything. And should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them – in comments to this material. Enjoy!