Delicious Russia: Shashlyk and Ajapsandal for dinner at the dacha
Most people in Russia think that shashlyk came to the country from the peoples of the Caucasus and other peoples just borrowed the idea. But this opinion is very mistaken since similar meat dishes can be found in other cultures.
The word "shashlyk" isn't the least bit Caucasian. It's actually a Crimean Tatar word that made its way into Russian completely by accident. It’s a distortion meaning “something on a skewer”. This dish was known in Russia even before the 18th century. It was simply called by a different name, a "verchenoye", precisely because the meat rotated on a “vertel”, or skewer.
We're making our shashlyk from pork neck, although you can make it from anything you like. Chicken, fish, beef, and so on.
To start things off, we'll need to light the BBQ pit. The size of the pit should roughly correspond to the amount of shashlyks you're going to make. We have 1.5 kg (3 lb). Wood from fruit trees, like cheery and apple trees, is perfect for getting the fire going. The wood's solid and it keeps the heat for a long time. You have to be very careful in selecting your pit. Its size should correspond to the amount of shashlyk you're making. If you're cooking for a lot of people, you'll need a long pit. It's more convenient that way. You can grill on one side while keeping the fire going on the other side to have new coals for later.
1 kg of pork neck
100 ml of dry red wine
2 large onions S
black pepper, paprika,
cumin, thyme, khmeli-suneli
This is how we make shashlyk:
1) Cut the meat in cubes. The meat should be marinated so it turns out juicy and tender. In Soviet times, people used vinegar, but that's probably because it wasn't exactly easy to get the freshest meat. If you can only get your hands on frozen instead of fresh meat, try using wine vinegar, which increases the acidity. If you really like your meat tender, you can marinate it in kefir.
2) Now we slice the onion. The smaller you chop it, the better the juices can be extracted, which in turn helps it marinate better.
3) Add the spices: black pepper, paprika, cumin, thyme, and khmeli-suneli. Add some dry red wine, just a little. Now squeeze two lemons and add salt. Now mix what you've got.
4) Let it sit for 3 hours. Once the meat's marinated, we'll put it on skewers.
eggplants — 2 pcs
bell pepper — 2 pcs
onion — 1 pc
tomatoes - 2 pcs
The side dish we've chosen for our shashlyk, however, actually does come from the Caucasus. Ajapsandal is an amazingly aromatic and delicious dish. It consists of vegetables grilled on an open flame: eggplants, sweet and spicy bell peppers, tomatoes, a lot of greens, and garlic. You can eat it hot, straight off the grill, or cold.
This is how we make Ajapsandal:
1) To start with, we’ll need a bell pepper, eggplant, and tomato. Now put the vegetables on a grill whole. Place the grill over the fire. The coals should be very hot so that the vegetables’ peels get burnt, which will make it easier to take off later.
2) Put the veggies in a big bowl and cover it with a lid to let them stew for an hour or so.
3) After this, peel them. Now add the cilantro (kinza), half an onion, and two cloves of garlic.
4) Now comes the hard part, cutting the vegetables just right and mixing everything. Squeeze a little lemon juice, along with some paprika, black pepper, and salt. Then carefully mix everything again.