Plumes of breath swirl and dance above me in the light of my headlamp. To my left, I can hear Lisa curl deeper into her sleeping bag. It’s my turn to make breakfast. First order of business: thick, hot coffee.
Easing my way slowly through the narrow tent door, the rainfly slithers and crackles in the cold.
With the door closed and the stove running, I can turn my attention to our surroundings. High in the Georgian Caucasus, we’re encircled in a spectacular amphitheatre of peaks, both jagged and smooth. Here, the mountains here are much wilder, preserved from the infrastructure that dots many of the European ranges.
With coffee made and grateful mumbles of thanks from inside the tent, I can get to work on our locally inspired breakfast of fresh cornbread and a simple bean stew. Fuel for another day of winter trekking and snowshoeing on this 3-day adventure from Achkhoti village to Sno village through such an incredible landscape.
Georgian Lobio with Mchadi (Red Bean, Pepper, Onion and Herb Stew with Cornbread)
- 2 cups dried red kidney beans, soaked in water overnight.
- 1 white onion, finely sliced
- 1 green pepper, roughly diced
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried fennel powder
- 1/2 tsp black cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- Salt – to taste
- 1 tbsp butter or ghee
- Cornflour, finely ground
- 2 eggs
- tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 cup hard white cheese, cut into fine cubes.
- 2 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
- Extra cornflour for dusting
- MSR Dragonfly stove, pump and fuel bottle
- MSR 2.5 L Ceramic pot and Ceramic skillet
- Wooden spoon and spatula
- SealLine BlockerLite Dry Sack – to knead and store the dough
Mix the beans, parsley and stock cube together and store in a lightweight leakproof container. Store the onion, pepper and spices in a separate container.
First make the cornbread.
Mix together the cornflour, spices, salt, eggs and oil. Then add in the cheese and a little water at a time. Knead until you have a smooth dough. Store in a silicone dry sack or reusable container.
Light the Dragonfly stove. After priming, reduce the heat to a simmer. Using the 2.5 L pot, add the butter/ghee and when gently sizzling add the onion, pepper and spices. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the bean mix, stir well and enough water to cover completely.
Increase the heat to full, cover with the pot lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly, cook for 20 minutes or until the beans are soft, adding more water if necessary. Taste and season with salt if needed. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Place the skillet on the Dragonfly, reduce the heat to medium/high.
Break off a golf ball size lump of dough, roll in between your hands until smooth and flatten. Dust with a little cornflour and place in the skillet.
There is space in the skillet for 2-4 breads, depending on size. Dry fry for a few minutes on both sides until cooked through and the cheese starts to ooze out.
Serve the bean stew in an insulated container with some bread.
Kieran is a MSR Chef Ambassador and an International mountain leader with more than 20 years’ experience cooking and leading in a wide variety of countries and on vastly differing terrains and climates around the world. Visit his website at www.kierancreevy.com