Nigvziani badrijani, or eggplant rolls with walnuts and cilantro (Georgia)

Georgia (not to be confused with the U.S. state with the same name) is located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, and a former part of the Soviet Union. It also considers Abkhazia and South Ossetia parts of the country. The character of the country is highly defined by the mountainous location. The deepest known cave, the Krubera cave, which is at least 2 km deep, is also located in Georgia. The climate is very diverse. There is a long tradition of wine making and tourism is increasing, attracted by e.g. ski resorts, thousands of mineral springs and thousands of historical monuments. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Georgia is that the Georgian language has three separate alphabets.

The most distinctive part of Georgian cuisine is supra, a feast featuring tons of different dishes and plenty of wine, which can last for hours. Georgian food has become quite popular in Russia thanks to immigration. Important ingredients include fish, chicken, meat, dairy products, rice, breads, beans, potatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, spinach and other greens. Walnuts are used in almost every dish. Pastries, soups and salads are popular. There is a decent amount of vegetarian and even vegan dishes. Plenty of fresh herbs are used, especially parsley, dill and cilantro. Chili is used too, as well as the local spice blue fenugreek. Food may also be flavored with tart fruits, such as plums and pomegranate. There is a wide variety of desserts and sweets, usually featuring nuts and/or honey.

Easy to veganize, low-carb (which is how I am mostly forced to eat nowadays), with only a few ingredients and healthy ones at that (save for all that oil…)? I had my doubts, but nigvziani badrijani was something I had to try. When I tried the filling by itself, it tasted too much of walnuts and cilantro, as I had expected, since it was, after all, pretty much just walnuts and cilantro. But when the eggplants were filled with it, everything fell into place. The cilantro, the walnut and the greasy eggplant flavour just mingled together to create a really nice dish, and a nice surprise too.

Nigvziani badrijani

Nigvziani badrijani

2 eggplants
olive oil for frying
1 1/2 cups/3.6 dl ground walnuts
1 cup/2.5 dl finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
a few tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise
salt to taste

Slice the eggplants lengthwise thinly; about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thin. Fry thes slices in some olive oil until slightly browned and set aside to cool. They will soak up a lot of oil. If you soak them in water before frying they will end up slightly less greasy, but then they will splutter more (and you will still need a lot of oil). Take care that the eggplant is tender, it’s one of those vegetables you never want al dente. Place on a kitchen towel to drain out excess oil, flip and drain the other side too (or pat with a kitchen towel).

Mix the walnuts, cilantro, garlic and enough vegan mayo to bind it together. Take about a meatball-sized lump of the filling (depending on the size of the slice – my rolls are a bit too thick), place on one end of an eggplant and roll. Serve as a snack, appetizer or side dish, in room temperature or warmed up. Makes enough for 4-8 people. Because of the nuts they are more filling than they seem.

2 Responses to “Nigvziani badrijani, or eggplant rolls with walnuts and cilantro (Georgia)”

  1. 1

    This sounds fantastic, Maija. Thanks so much since I’m always looking for low or no carb recipes. Do you think this would work with zucchini? We have some huge ones and I thought zucchini might be another way to go?
    Again, Thanks! xx

  2. 2

    Irene, if you’re still checking, I can assure you the paste you make can go on anything you want to put it on. In Ukraine, my host mom made it (without mayo), and we just spread it on bread a lot of the time.

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