Alas, modern Caucasian cuisine is a hellish vinaigrette of the most popular dishes in the media: barbecue, satsivi, lobio, kharcho, etc. Mostly they advertise Georgian dishes with the sauce of popularizing the cuisine of the Caucasus. Such a narrowness of knowledge not only kills the richness of the gastronomy of the whole region, but also cultivates a narrow view of it history. But the cuisine is inextricably linked both with history and with the way of life of people. For example, the complex dishes of Transcaucasia spoke of the sedentary nature of some of its peoples, simple and satisfying recipes of the Circassians hinted at a military-campaigning character, Cossack dishes were very nutritious, which indicated a high energy consumption of lifestyle.
And this whole historical layer is replaced by barbecue and various salads with wild nuts, which over time you begin to hate quietly. But the terrific Cossack dishes, Circassian, Abazin, Kabardian, Ossetian, etc. are extremely little known. In the best case, the layman will remember the gedliber (beloved by the author) and absolutely will not know about his fellow - the face klib (veal in cream with onions and garlic). Well, let’s take a look at a few truly military dishes of the Caucasus that have gone through the history of wars and unrest.
Naur fighting cabbage soup
The Naurian Cossack cabbage soup went down in history thanks to the heroic defense of the village of Naurskaya in 1774. In July of that year, the Cossack garrison of the village was on a campaign. The village itself had only a small guard team. The rest of the population is entirely women, children and the elderly. Taking advantage of such a vulnerable position of the village, the Turkish-Tatar military detachment, reinforced by local hostile highlanders, under the command of Shahbaz Geray decided to take control of the village by storm and plunder it, taking the inhabitants into slavery.
Despite the small number of the Naurskaya garrison, Shahbaz Gerai could not take the village on the move. Moreover, each successive wave of assaults each time receded without salty slurping. The whole nation came to the defense of Naurskaya, starting with women and ending with the elderly. At the peak moment of the battle, the defenders of the village found that the tar that had burned the enemy from the ramparts had ended. And here came to the aid the ingenuity of the beloved Cossacks, who brought boiling cabbage soup stuffed with oil from the huts. Poured onto the head of the enemy, cabbage soup turned into a formidable weapon serf defense. After Shahbaz Geray, without capturing Naurskaya, shamefully fled, the stanitsy laughed for a long time at the scalded highlanders they met, because They knew what the battle wounds were and who caused them.
Sami cabbage soup was prepared as follows. Two cups of kvass made from yeast or rye bran were poured into cast iron. After that, the cast iron was filled with water. Then millet or lentils, peas and salt were sent inside. As soon as the cooking process began directly, cabbage, onions, beets and even tomatoes went into the cast iron. When all the products were ready, cabbage was seasoned with hemp or linseed oil for satiety.
Family of Terek Cossacks
Someone, of course, will be surprised by the absence of meat in these cabbage soup. Firstly, meat was not a publicly available product. Secondly, the Cossacks were believers and many of them strictly followed the calendar of fasting and fasting days. Therefore, meat and millet went to cabbage soup on holidays or on frosty winter days, when the body required more energy.
The Cossack way of military life, of course, introduced its amendments into the gastronomy of the Cossacks. One of these amendments was the Cossack camp. This dish is, in fact, specially created to satisfy hunger in camp conditions. It does not need to be heated, it is compact enough, stored for a long time and at the same time unusually high-calorie.
The ingredients are quite simple: eggs, milk, salt, dill, black and red pepper. Put the salty milk (1,5 L) on the fire. Beat a dozen eggs and pour in them a tablespoon of black and red pepper. There goes the middle bunch of chopped dill. When the milk boils, it is necessary to pour eggs into it, constantly stirring. Soon, the eggs will begin to curl, and boil milk. When the milk almost disappears, leaving something like whey, you need to put the lump in a colander covered with a cloth. Having formed a lump, we suspend it to separate unnecessary liquid. They eat a lump of cold, cutting it into pieces.
Pita bread: “contraband” bread
Bread during the war becomes a strategic product. It's no secret that hunger has always been used as a weapon. The Caucasus is not only an exception, but also has several features that only strengthen the cannibalistic siege of the enemy’s food policy.
According to one version, the famous pita bread owes its appearance to the enemy policy of using hunger as its ally. Armenia, being in Transcaucasia, due to its geographical position, was repeatedly forced to reflect the destructive raids of the peoples of modern Iran, the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate, various nomads and, of course, Ottoman. All the conquerors did not shy from the robbery and destruction of food products in order to weaken the popular resistance.
Lavash-like lavash in such a situation was very welcome. This bread was simply wrapped around the body under clothes. In the heat of a rapid raid, the enemy did not bother to search every resident, therefore, despite the ruin of the economy, people still had a chance to hold out for some time on “smuggling” hidden under their clothes. In addition, in terms of secret transportation, pita bread was not an example more convenient than the loaves known to us.
Didoic malt cakes gained their fame precisely because of the restless warlike nature of the Caucasus. Didoians - one of the peoples of Western Dagestan, who speaks the Cesian language and is related to the Avars. Like the other peoples of the Caucasus, the Didoans have fully experienced dashing raids, complete lawlessness and endless wars.
One day, women from the Dido village of Khebatli (now the Tsuntinsky district of Dagestan) went to the Kosovita in the abandoned Elitl farm. Work was in full swing all day, so the tired young ladies decided to spend the night in one of the houses of the abandoned farm in order to have a good rest and not to tempt fate in the dangerous darkness of the Caucasian roads. The entrance to the house was locked tightly, so the only way in was through the window.
As it turned out, the robber gang of abreks spotted the women before dawn. The attack was postponed until dark. The young ladies were just baking malt cakes for dinner when they heard that enemies were breaking into the house. One of the resourceful women grabbed another cake from the oven and tore off the top layer from it, under which covered still bubbling heat slurry. As soon as the physiognomy of the abrek appeared in the window, a brave young lady literally slammed him with this sticky sticky dough with this malt volcano. A terrible howl announced the whole valley. The unsuccessful enemy had to retreat.
Malt cake, despite the simplicity of the preparation, has several features. There are only two ingredients - dry malt and water. Kneading soft cool dough, we form flat cakes 1,5–2 centimeters thick. Cakes are baked either in a traditional oven or on a hot stone, until cracks appear on the brown crust. The trick is that inside the cake remains liquid, so pieces are broken off from the edges and dipped into the liquid part.
Gauemilä: Circassian hiking food
For the Circassians, military camp life was habitual, so certain provisions were also made for provisions. The answer to the need for specially adapted food products was gumemylé, i.e. military marching food of the Circassians. It was a kind of canned food of its time. Each rider going on a campaign had a small leather bag with supplies, which was hermetically sealed. The content was not rich, but satisfying. They put dried millet flour, sugared honey, salt, smoked meat ground to a powder state or rennet cheese hardened to a stone state.
From meat "flour" it was possible to cook nutritious soup by adding salt and herbs. There, one could add millet flour for satiety. Honey, thanks to its healing properties, supported the strength of the rider at a distant crossing. A special place was given to rennet cheese. Everyone, of course, knows perfectly well the dish of fondue, promoted to indecentness, for which the layman puts out thousands of rubles. The reader will be truly surprised, but in the Spartan conditions of the military campaign, the Circassians sometimes ate just the Caucasian fondue. Pieces of cheese and flour were thrown into boiling water, stirring constantly. Such a broth was high-calorie and warmed at night around a campfire.
Fagot: strategic meat menu
Another of the strategic products needed in a long military campaign was the frog, which was also called ligurgage or ligugug. This dish is usually referred to as Kabardian cuisine, although it was common among many peoples and tribes of the North Caucasus. In fact, a jagur is a jerky, a variety of cooking methods. For example, a layer of meat 1,5 cm thick is cut from lamb. Then it is cut and salted for 6 hours. Next, you need to let the liquid drain from the meat and sow it in the open air for a week in limbo. Such meat is stored for a long time and is great for long-distance military campaigns.
Another advantage of the frog is that it itself is the basis for many dishes. You can stew the fagot with potatoes, make a barbecue, adding water and spices, boil lizhelips soup and even prepare a sauce called lizzypsa. For licking, it is necessary to boil dried meat, divide into the smallest fiber and fry in fats with added onion. Then you need to pour this frying with a solution of water, flour, finely chopped red pepper, salt and garlic. Further, everything is boiled until medium density.
In ancient times, in Lakia (the ethnocultural territory of the Laks in the central part of Nagorno-Dagestan) there was a special custom. When the time came and the recruits were drafted into the army, the whole village came to accompany their sons. In addition to traditional recipes, mothers prepared a special dish - airein gyavkkuri, i.e. army khinkal. Unlike its meat counterparts, Army Khinkal is a dessert.
From flour with soda, sugar, sour cream, eggs and soft butter, an elastic dough is mixed in which black cumin is added. The dough should rest a bit. After that, we form oblong sausages from the dough, while we clamp the pieces of the mother so that the outlines of the fingers are imprinted on the surface. Ready khinkal sent to the pan with sunflower oil. Dessert should literally float in oil. We take out the khinkal fried to a golden color and send it to some cloth so that the excess oil is glass, and after that we sprinkle the dessert with icing sugar.
At the same time, the army khinkal has an extremely useful property for camp life - it has not been stale for a long time. Even after a couple of weeks, the rookie can enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Leave the wine alone
The logic of the narrative requires mentioning and drinks of the Caucasus, which should be washed down the warlike cuisine. The traditional cliche in this world is wine. However, despite the fact that almost every city in the Caucasus was literally under siege by wineries and small garage wineries (only along the perimeter of Novorossiysk half a dozen such enterprises), in the old days the Caucasus did not drink wine.
They drank Nogai koumiss and bakhsymu (buzu) from corn and millet, Abazin tea from dried sea buckthorn and the Circassian version of buzah, ayran and uzvar and, of course, mineral water. But a special place was given to the Ossetian hops drink - Nart beer. This is the drink of the main characters of the Nart epic - Narts, celestials and warriors-heroes. Beer was served in the legendary Utsamong bowl, which was credited with magical properties.
Nart beer in a traditional bowl
Beer was brewed in large copper vats designed for 40-50 buckets of water. The cooking process itself is quite complex and requires many days of work. Starting with collecting the necessary ingredients in the mountains, ending with filtering almost finished beer. In appearance, the ingredients are quite simple: roasted malt, barley malt, hops, brewer's yeast and water. The beer obtained is darker than night, but is low alcohol, an average of about 3-4 degrees.
In the XNUMXth century, several bottles of Nart beer were donated to His Grace Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin. The prince liked the drink so much that he wrote out Ossetian brewers in the capital. But no matter how Ossetians fought, the taste of beer was very different from the original and not for the better. Finally, the brewers realized that the ingredients collected in the mountains are qualitatively superior to those at their fingertips in St. Petersburg. Moreover, the purest water from mountain sources, as it turned out, played far from the last role. Alas, Potemkin had to abandon the idea of brewing Nart beer in the capital. Those who want to enjoy the original drink, most likely, will have to go directly to Ossetia to some mountain village. And even better, if the trip will be on any holiday, when Ossetians will brew beer for a feast. New Year is no exception.