You could call Tekuna Gachechiladze the pkhali queen of Tbilisi for her mouthwatering, innovative takes on Georgia’s traditional vegetable-walnut spreads. Pkhali can be made with any cooked vegetable—traditional choices include beet, spinach, carrot, and green bean—but Gachechiladze eschews those for sweet, melty leeks, which she purées with walnuts, cilantro, and spices. Tahini and olives are unorthodox add-ins that today’s Georgians happily get behind.
This recipe is adapted from a dish made by Tekuna Gachechiladze, chef of Café Littera and Khasheria in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Featured in: “The Walnut Whisperers of Georgia.”
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 3 medium leeks (1 lb.), cleaned, whites coarsely chopped
- 2½ cups coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1 cup (4 oz.) walnuts, lightly toasted
- ¼ cups tahini
- 3 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper, or crushed red chile flakes
- ¾ tsp. ground coriander seeds, preferably Georgian ground coriander seed
- Kosher salt
- ½ cups fresh pomegranate seeds (3 oz.)
- ⅓ cups coarsely chopped mild green olives, such as Castelvetrano
- Torn mint leaves, for garnish
- Crusty bread or crackers, for serving