Churchkhela is a candle-shaped sweet speciality found mainly in Georgia but also in other countries and which consists of a string of nuts or hazelnuts covered with grape juice thickened with corn or wheat flour, which gives it an almost rubbery appearance, and is served sliced like a sausage. Many variations exist since it is possible to prepare it with different dried fruits: almond, cashew nuts, pecan nuts, dried apricots, prunes and it is also possible to use other fruit juices: pomegranate, apple, cherry or whatever.
This typical Georgian dish, which can be found in all the markets of the country, mainly originates from its wine regions: in Kakheti (made with walnuts) or in Imereti (made with hazelnuts). It is present on all holiday tables, at New Year’s or for Christmas. Its preparation, more common in autumn, dates back to immemorial time and it even seems that soldiers took it everywhere for its ease of transporting and storing it as well as for its high caloric characteristics.
We give you here a recipe to prepare them at home. Get thick cotton thread and a suitable needle.
– 2 litres of red or white grape juice
– 350 to 400g of fresh walnuts or hazelnuts
– 260g of corn flour (or wheat)
– Prepare a string of fresh walnut halves or whole hazelnuts that you thread on a thick cotton thread of 15 to 20cm, using a suitable needle and make a knot at one end and a loop at the other end (so that it can be hung up to dry).
– Prepare the pelamushi, i.e. your thickened grape syrup. To do this, pour half of your juice into a saucepan and boil for 15 minutes. In the other half of your grape juice, pour your flour gradually, mixing little by little to avoid the formation of lumps. Add this mixture to the boiling juice. Continue to cook until the volume of the mixture decreases by a quarter.
– Then dip your rosaries in turn into the pelamushi, three times in a row, pausing for 30s each time. Hang them to dry for 30 minutes. Repeat the operation several times in a row, if necessary, until the beads are covered with a layer of this jelly 1 to 1.5 cm thick.
– These churchkhela will then be hung to dry for two weeks in a dark place. The juice will harden on the outside while the inside will remain softer. You can taste it afterwards or keep it for several more months by wrapping it in a towel in a dark, dry place.