Mushroom Khinkali Recipe: Vegetarian Georgian Dumplings


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Out of all Georgian food that has made onto the international radar, khinkali dumplings are one of the most prominent. These beautiful, steamy soup dumplings are typically known to be filled with minced beef, pork or lamb and a variety of other spice. In short, they don’t appear to be vegetarian friendly. However, this isn’t the entire story. Georgian cuisine is remarkably accommodating to the non-carnivores among us and you will find vegetarian dumplings sitting alongside the meat-based ones on just about any menu. So if you’re looking for a killer mushroom khinkali recipe to enjoy a meat-free Georgian delicacy, then look no further.

Though not a vegetarian myself (I do like to limit my meat consumption, however), mushroom khinkali are actually my favourite iteration of this traditional Georgian dumpling. All too often, though, they tend to fall short on the flavours that are packed into their meat-based cousins. This, I think, is the real atrocity. Just because something isn’t stuffed with minced pork or beef doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be packed with the same tastes of coriander, chilli and fresh cilantro!

In this mushroom khinkali recipe, I tried to right all of the wrongs of the bland mushroom fillings that one may find out there and really make it a fierce contender with its meat-based counterparts.

So if you want to know how to make mushroom khinkali that are absolutely delicious and surprisingly simple to make, then look no further than this mushroom khinkali recipe!

Raw khinkali ready to be boiled
Raw khinkali ready to be boiled

Are Mushroom Khinkali Traditional?

You may be wondering if the mushroom variant of this Georgian dumpling is a traditional iteration of khinkali. The short answer is yes, it is. Mushroom khinkali are just as ubiquitous as their meat-based cousins and it’s not because vegetarianism is a recent trend in Georgia that restaurants are trying to accommodate. It actually comes down to something far, far less recent — fasting days on the Georgian Orthodox Calendar.

Because the Georgian Orthodox Church is so intricately tied to the national identity in Georgia, the cuisine of the country has followed suit. As there are a great number of fasting days on the calendar (which basically means that followers are not supposed to be eating meat — though, for some reason, fish does not fall into this), vegetarian variants of food in Georgian cuisine are quite plentiful. Therefore, mushroom khinkali are 100% authentic and traditional to eat.

In fact, the sheer number of vegetarian dishes such as lobio, ojakhuri, ajapsandali and mushroom chashushuli to name a few, available in the Georgian culinary landscape make it a perfect destination for those who don’t eat meat. You can visit Georgia or cook its food without really making any sacrifices if you happen to be a vegetarian!

How to Make Mushroom Khinkali

Now, finally, it’s time to discuss how one would make mushroom khinkali. It’s is actually a fairly simple process and not one to be intimidated by. Take a day and make a project out of it — you will not be disappointed!

Khinkali Dough

First off, you need to make the dough for your dumplings. This is a fairly simple process and the dough can be used across all varieties of khinkali, not just the mushroom ones.

You’ll start with whisking together a bit of salt into some flour in a large mixing bowl. Then, make a well in your flour and crack in one large egg, a drizzle of neutral oil and a bit of water. Mix this until a shaggy dough forms, adding more water if necessary to fully hydrate the dough.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it until it is smooth, supple and elastic, about five to ten minutes depending. This will help to develop the gluten to ensure that your khinkali have a decent bite to them and they hold up to forming and boiling.

Once your dough has been sufficiently kneaded, go ahead and transfer it to an oiled bowl (in order to prevent sticking!), cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This rest is essential in order to relax the gluten and for the flour to completely hydrate in order to make rolling out a lot easier.

Alternatively, you can refrigerate the dough for up to three days or freeze for later use. Just make sure to bring the dough to room temperature before rolling out and forming your khinkali.

Starting to make your khinkali dough
Starting to make your khinkali dough

Mushroom Khinkali Filling

Now we get to the part we’re all here for – the filling. Making the mushroom khinkali filling is quite easy and it is so delicious you may struggle not to eat it all with a spoon before it makes it into any dumplings!

I start with basic, white button mushrooms, however, you can use a more flavourful mushroom if you would like a more complex flavour. Finely dice your mushrooms and then sautee them over medium heat, seasoned with salt and pepper, until they are browned and reduced by about half.

Now, you can add your garlic, chilli and dry herbs and spices. Stir those in until fragrant and the flavours begin to meld. Then take off the heat, stir in some chopped fresh cilantro and give the filling a taste for seasoning. Just try not to eat it all before you have a chance to make your khinkali!

Your mushroom filling is ready!
Your mushroom filling is ready!

Forming the Khinkali

Now comes the most daunting part of the khinkali-making process — the forming of the dumplings. However, this may actually look more difficult than it actually is and pinching together these khinkali is fairly simple with just a little bit of practice. The dough is quite forgiving and it’s easy to patch up mistakes, so don’t worry about it!

Start by rolling out your dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 3 millimetres thick. Then, using an 8-centimetre circular cutter (or a drinking glass, like I do!), cut out as many rounds of dough as you can. There is no problem gathering the scraps and rolling them out again, you just may need to let the dough rest a bit before you do this.

Once you have your rounds cut, roll over them a bit more with the rolling pin until they reach about 1-2 millimetres thick — so VERY thin.

Cutting out circles of your dough
Cutting out circles of your dough

Now it’s time to take a small spoonful of dough and place it in the centre of the dough round. Picking up one side of the dough furthest away from you, hold it in between your thumb and forefinger in both hands. Fold the dough from your dominant hand into your non-dominant hand and then pinch to seal. Continue in this motion until you’ve worked your way all around the dumpling. Pinch or twist the top to completely seal it off. Set it aside and repeat with your remaining khinkali (the recipe below should make about 20).

Cook the khinkali in a large pot of boiling water that has been seasoned with a couple of teaspoons of salt. Boil them for about 6-8 minutes, or until they are completely cooked through and steaming!

Forming your mushroom khinkali
Forming your mushroom khinkali

How to Eat Khinkali

Now comes the best part of the entire process — actually eating your delicious mushroom khinkali! There is a certain method to eating khinkali that Georgians use that may not be as intuitive to the lay person (I know the first time I had khinkali, I ate them with a knife and fork — the horror!).

Khinkali are, first and foremost, a very casual finger food, so toss out that cutlery! To eat these dumplings, pick it up from the top (this is your handle!) and take a small bite from the bottom in order to suck out all of the soupy juices that have accumulated. There won’t be a lot of those in this mushroom khinkali recipe as opposed to a meat-based one, however, there may still be some.

Homemade mushroom khinkali
Homemade mushroom khinkali

Once the juices have been drunk, you can continue eating the dumpling until you reach the top. You don’t eat the seam as it normally hasn’t had a chance to cook all the way through and it can be very raw and doughy. Just toss it aside.

And, of course, simply continue until you have gobbled up every last one!

Homemade mushroom khinkali

Mushroom Khinkali Recipe: Vegetarian Georgian Dumplings

Yield: 20 Khinkali
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

These delicious dumplings are the perfect vegetarian version of one of Georgia's most well-known dishes. Simple to make with easy-to-find ingredients, these are sure to become your new favourite dumpling!

Ingredients

Dough

  • 300 grams (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 6 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 egg
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) neutral oil
  • 50-100ml (1/4-1/2 cup) water

Filling

  • 500 grams (1 pound) mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) ground coriander seed
  • 6 grams (1 teaspoon) fresh thyme, chopped OR 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) dried savory or thyme
  • 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) crushed red pepper or 1 mild red chilli, minced
  • 15 grams (3 tablespoons) fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped

Instructions

How to Make Dough

  1. Combine flour & salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre of the flour and crack egg in.
  2. Pour in oil and 50ml of water and mix until shaggy dough forms
  3. Add more water as needed to properly hydrate the dough
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the consistency is smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Put dough in an oiled bowl, cover, rest for at least 30 minutes

How to Make Filling

  1. Over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in large saute pan until shimmering, add mushrooms with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook until mushrooms have browned and reduced in size and released moisture, stirring occasionally, about 5-10 minutes
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic, coriander, thyme or kondari, and chilli. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms further reduce and flavours meld, a couple more minutes
  3. Turn off heat, stir in fresh cilantro and transfer to a small bowl, set aside

How to Form Khinkali

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until 3 millimetres thick.
  2. Using an 8-centimetre drinking glass or circular cutter, cut 20 rounds of dough.
  3. Roll over each round until they reach 10-12 centimetres in diameter, about 1-2 millimetres thick.
  4. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of dough round. Lift one side of dough with both hands, holding between your thumb and forefinger about 2 centimetres apart. Fold dough in your left hand to your right hand, pinch to seal. Repeat until there is no more dough to fold. Twist the top of the dumpling to completely seal. Set aside.

How to Cook Khinkali

  1. Bring 2 litres of salted water to a rolling boil
  2. Lower khinkali into the water using a spider. Cook mushroom khinkali for 6-8 minutes. Cook meat khinkali for 10-12 minutes. Remove from water using a spider or slotted spoon.
  3. Serve immediately with back pepper.

Notes

Raw khinkali can be frozen. Allow to freeze on a plate or a sheet tray lined with parchement paper before transferring to a plastic bag or another container. Cook directly from frozen, just add a couple of minutes onto the cooking time. Use within three months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 48Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g

Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

This mushroom khinkali recipe is flavourful and surprisingly easy to make. Perect for vegetarians or for those looking for more plant-based options in their diets, these Georgian dumplings are sure to be a hit for whomever you serve them to!

Have you tried this mushroom khinkali recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frlils Kitchen. She is a home cook and world traveller who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others.

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