Georgia is a country that doesn’t shy away from a good soup or stew – and chashushuli is no exception. This spicy, tomato-based stew (also sometimes referred to as ostri) is incredibly hearty and flavourful and is one of the best dishes to whip up on a cold winter day for a bit of heat and warmth. Though often made with beef, it is also often made with mushrooms for a vegetarian version that is suitable for the many fasting days on the Georgian Orthodox calendar. This mushroom chashushuli recipe is completely vegan but can easily be adapted if you favour a more carnivorous route.
Chashushuli is really easy to make and can be thrown together in under an hour — and the vast majority of that time is inactive. It uses ingredients that are relatively easy to find (with the exception of adjika, however, I do offer options for substitutions and it is available for purchase online) and it doesn’t require any sort of special techniques or equipment.
So if you’re on the hunt for a delicious, spicy, easy-to-make and fully vegan stew, then consider giving this mushroom chashushuli recipe a go! The results are absolutely fantastic and it’s sure to quickly become one of your favourites.
What is Chashushuli (Ostri)?
Before I jump into how to make chashushuli, I probably need to discuss exactly what it is. As mentioned already, chashushuli is a tomato-based stew that hails from the country of Georgia. It is frequently spiced with a delicious chile paste that hails from the western part of the country known as adjika and is flavoured with the brightness of a lot of cilantro.
Chashushuli is also referred to as ostri depending on where you are in the country or which restaurant menu you may have picked up. Whatever it is called, however, there is no denying that this is one of the most popular and well-known dishes in Georgian and you can find it absolutely everywhere.
By default, it’s typically made with beef, however, it is just as common and “authentic” to find mushroom ostri or chashushuli, as well. Generally speaking, there are almost always vegetarian versions of popular dishes available in Georgia (such as mushroom ojakhuri or mushroom khinkali) which is why this is one of the best world cuisines for those who don’t eat meat — especially when you’re comparing other Eastern European cuisines.
Chashushuli is also generally made with fresh tomatoes, however, I do use canned tomatoes in this recipe in order to make it an accessible and delicious recipe to make all year round. Georgia does grow some of the best tomatoes I have ever tasted in my entire life, however, they aren’t particularly good in the middle of winter when I typically want to eat a stew of this calibre. It also means that it’s easier to make chashushuli at the drop of the hat and cuts down on prep time, as well.
If you want to make a beef chashushuli rather than a mushroom chashushuli, then you can also adapt the recipe below. Just keep in mind that you are also going to need to adjust the overall cook time of the recipe.
How to Make Chashushuli (Ostri)
Now that we’ve discussed what chashushuli or ostri is, it’s time get down into how to make this delicious stew! As I’ve already mentioned, it’s a very easy process and the active cooking time is generally less than about 10-15 minutes, so it’s something that can easily be thrown together on a weeknight when you’re looking for something delicious, easy and healthy to make for dinner!
First things first, you’re going to need to brown your mushrooms. I call for basic button mushrooms in this recipe as they’re what are the most widely available in Georgia (and elsewhere), however, there is no reason that you can’t get creative with the kind of mushrooms you do use if you have access to them.
Remove the stems and cut your mushrooms into quarters — you don’t want them to be cut too small because you want them to have some texture and meatiness to them. Heat a tablespoon or two of neutral oil over medium heat until shimmering in a large saucepan and then add your mushrooms into it.
You’re going to want to cook these mushrooms until they’ve reduced in size significantly and have begun to take on a lot of deep brown colour — this is going to be the foundational flavour of your chashushuli so you don’t want to scrimp on this step. Brown the mushrooms for about ten minutes.
After your mushrooms have reached the desired colour, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside for a bit. Turn the heat to medium-low and add a bit more oil to the pan if necessary.
Then add in your diced onion, minced chilli (you can remove the seeds from the chilli if you wish, but I like the heat so I leave them in) and finely chopped cilantro stems. Cooking the stems with the stew allows for an even more pronounced cilantro flavour that gives a brightness to the entire dish.
Cook the onion, chilli and stems until softened and lightly translucent but not browned, about five minutes or so. Then, add in your garlic, dried savory (you can easily sub in thyme if you don’t have savory), tomato paste and adjika and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, only about 30 seconds to one minute.
If you can’t find adjika (it is available online here, however), you can substitute some crushed chilli flakes along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. The flavour won’t be quite the same, but you will still get a good punch of heat.
Next, add your mushrooms back into the pot and stir to coat in the onion-adjika mixture.
Then, pour in your canned tomatoes and bit of water. Bring up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook, uncovered, for at least thirty minutes. You want the sauce to reduce and thicken a bit and also for the tomatoes to be able to cook off their tinny flavour and release a pleasant sweetness.
Then turn off the heat and stir in your chopped coriander leaves. Taste to adjust for seasoning (I don’t say to add any salt as adjika can be incredibly salty, so you may need to add some now depending on your tastes) and then serve immediately. This dish can also save in the fridge for 3 or so days — it reheats beautifully.
Making a Beef Chashushuli
If you would rather make this a carnivorous version of chashushuli or ostri, it’s very easy to make the stew with beef rather than mushrooms. Simply cut some beef stew meat (I recommend using chuck or even boneless short ribs would work well), into small cubes and trim and excess fat from the meat.
Brown the meat on all sides the same way you would with the mushrooms. Then, follow all the steps outlined above until after you add the tomatoes. Once the stew is at a simmer, cover the pot and allow to simmer for 2-2.5 hours or until the beef is very tender and falls apart easily.
Then, uncover the pot and allow the tomato sauce to thicken and reduce for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in your cilantro, adjust for seasoning and serve!
- 1kg (2lbs) button mushrooms, stems removed and cut into quarters
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 50g (1.8oz) cilantro, finely chopped, stems and leaves separated
- 1 green chilli (a Serrano works well), minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons adjika*
- 4 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried savory
- 2 400g (15oz) cans of diced tomatoes
- 400ml (1.5 cups) water
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt & pepper
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of neutral oil until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they've reduced in size and have browned significantly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Add a bit more oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and add in onion, cilantro stems and chilli. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add in garlic, adjika, tomato paste and savory and stir constantly until fragrant, only about 30 seconds. Return mushrooms to the pot and stir to coat in onion mixture.
- Pour in tomatoes and water, add bay leaves, stir to combine and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low and simmering, uncovered, until reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes.
- Stir in cilantro leaves and serve immediately.
*If you can't find adjika, then you can simply substitute with one teaspoon of chilli flakes and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. This won't provide the exact same flavour, but you will get the heat and saltiness that adjika paste gives.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 324mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 11gSugar: 13gProtein: 8g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Whether you decide to make this stew with beef or mushrooms or whether your call it chashushuli or ostri, there is no denying that this spicy Georgian stew is incredibly delicious and hearty. Easy to make and always a hit, you’re sure to fall in love with this Georgian favourite.
Have you tried this chashushuli recipe? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments!