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Cyprus Food - Soutzoukos

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Information on the traditional Cyprus Soutzoukos

Soutzoukos                         Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Churchkhela (Georgian: ჩურჩხელა, čurčxela, Georgian pronunciation: [tʃurtʃχɛlɑ]) is a traditional sausage-shaped candy originating from Georgia. The main ingredients are grape must, nuts and flour. Almonds, walnuts, hazel nuts and sometimes raisins are threaded onto a string, dipped in thickened grape juice or fruit juices and dried in the shape of a sausage.

Outside of Georgia

Churchkhela and its varieties are popular in several countries besides Georgia, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus,] Greece, Russia, and Turkey. In Armenian, Greek, and Turkish it is known as "sujuk", which is actually a dry sausage. To distinguish the two, it is sometimes referred to as "sweet sujukh" (քաղցր սուջուխ, kaghtsr sujukh) in Armenian[10] and cevizli sucuk ("walnut sujuk") in Turkish. I it is known in Cypriot Greek as soutzoukos (σουτζούκος] and as soutzouki (σουτζούκι) in Greece. The Cypriot variety is made by dipping strings of almonds into jelly, called palouzes or moustalevria.

Preparation

Churchkhela is a home-made Georgian product. Georgians usually make Churchkhela in Autumn when the primary ingredients, grapes and nuts, are harvested. It is a string of walnut halves that have been dipped in grape juice called Tatara or Phelamushi (grape juice thickened with flour), and dried in the sun.] No sugar is added to make real Churchkhela. Instead of walnuts sometimes nuts or almonds are used in the regions of west Georgia. The shape of Churchkhela looks like a candle, some people say it looks like a sausage. Georgian warriors carried Churchkhelas with them because they contain many calories. The best Churchkhela is made in Kakheti region that is famous as the motherland of wine.

Must is placed in a large bronze cauldron (called chartzin or kazani) and heated slowly. A small amount of a special white earth called asproi is added to the boiling must and causes impurities to rise to the surface where they are collected and removed. It is possible to substitute asproi, when not available, with lager beer, which has a similar result. Once the cleansing process is complete the must is left to cool. Next, flour is added while stirring and heating the mixture. When it gets to the right consistency, judging from the rate of steam bubbles and the fluency of the mixture, it is removed from the heat. The mix, called palouzes, is now ready for dipping the almond strings and make soutzoukos.

The next step is the making of soutzoukos involves the creation of strings of almonds (or walnuts), which are dipped in the palouzes mixture and are then left to dry. First, the nuts are shelled and dipped into water in order to become softer. Once soft enough, they are strung onto 2-3 meter-long threads. The strings are dipped in the palouzes mixture until completely covered. This process is repeated several times (usually three times) until soutzoukos has the desired thickness. Soutzoukos strings are then left to dry for 5–6 days. It then ready for consumption or storage, even though some people like to eat soutzoukos fresh.

Source Wikipedia

Last Updated 08 October 2015

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