Ivan Petrov writes from Moscow: It’s that time of year again, people, when Stirring Trouble presents some of the recipes of dishes that Joseph Stalin liked so much.
Why so, you may ask. Well, because dictators generally like to spoil themselves with good food and Stalin was no exception. He loved Georgian and Russian and Ukrainian cuisines and even ordered for a cooking book to be produced in the 1930s that would be worthy of the Soviet people. It was a good book, mind you, with a lot of excellent recipes.
So that is why we at Stirring Trouble decided to present to you some of the recipes from the first Stalin’s cookbook that came out in 1939. We would concentrate on the dishes that Stalin himself preferred. He liked to have his late dinners at his country residence outside Moscow where all of the Politburo members were present. These were wild parties, drinking and eating orgies, where some of the guests were ordered to dance in front of the despot to prove their loyalty to him. The Kremlin chefs went out of their way to prepare the dishes that Stalin liked. Some of them vanished without trace, having failed to deliver the goods, as they say.
We start with a particular favourite of Stalin, Harcho, a spicy Georgian meat soup, made with lamb, beef or chicken stock. Stalin preferred lamb, being ‘the son of the mountains’ himself, as Georgians were jokingly called in the Soviet days, but you can use beef and chicken just as well.
Cut lamb (or beef or chicken) into small pieces (3 to 4 pieces per soup portion) and simmer in a stock pot till tender. Time may differ depending on the quality of the meat.
Peel a couple of fresh ripe tomatoes, chop them finely. (You can use canned chopped tomatoes). Grate one medium sized carrot. Put both the chopped tomatoes and the grated carrot into a frying pan with a little olive or vegetable oil in it, adding one tablespoon of tomato paste and frying on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile boil about two cups of rice, half-way, separately.
Add the fried tomatoes and carrots to the simmering stock.
Take a couple of medium sized potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Add to the stock. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked.
Finally, chop a bunch of coriander and three peeled cloves of garlic, adding all to the stock.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a couple minutes. Add the half-cooked rice that you prepared earlier. Simmer for another two minutes.
Turn off the gas. Cover the pot with the lid. Let it rest for about twenty minutes for the rice to cook. (Make sure that you do not put too much rice as it has a tendency to expand and the soup will be too thick).
When serving you can add finely chopped dill and parsley to the soup.
Now you can stage your own eating orgy. (Just joking.)
Enjoy your Harcho. More of Stalin’s favourite dishes will follow. But do please send your comments to the first one.