Sunday, July 21, 2013

Churchkhela / Cevizli Sucuk

When I was at primary school, it was my mom who took my younger sister and me to school every morning. Those morning were such hectic ones that my mom would sometimes forget to prepare our lunch boxes and she would realise this only later at a very specific point on our way to school. It was the end of a ramp where a very simple, ordinary grocery shop was located. The owner of the jerry-built shop was a young devoted Muslim who would never send away children without candies or tiny Turkish delights. His kindness would wake us up and make us come back to his shop the next morning again.

Anyway, the Turkish delights were fabulous, however, I always craved something else on the counter. Whenever the good man handed me a few delights, I would steal a glance at the cevizli sucuk or churchkhela as it is called in Georgia. 

It was a mystery to me since I kept wondering how on earth they managed to stuff those pieces of walnuts into those sausage-shaped sweet rolls. Well, time flew by and I learned, of course, how the candy I admired is made but my fascination with the candy has never ended.

Here are a few notes on cevizli sucuk/ churchkhela:

1. It's a traditional sausage-shaped candy originating from the Caucasus region. It's popular in Georgia, Russia, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey where the main ingredients, grapes and nuts, are grown in abundance. 

2. Walnuts, almonds, hazel nuts, raisins and even pisatachios are threaded onto a string and dipped in thickened grape juice which is thickened with flour or other fruit juices until nuts are covered completely. This process is repeated several times until it has the desired thickness and left to dry in the sun for 5-6 days. 

3. It's usually made in Autumn when grapes and nuts are harvested. The nuts are shelled and dipped into water to make them softer before stringing onto threads.

4. No sugar is added to this candy. 

5. Georgian warriors carried churchkhelas with them because they contain many calories. Today research shows that churchkhela helps fight with anemia and is good in cases of exhaustion, malnutrition and diarrhea besides being a great source of energy.

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