A Request for Satsivi – Chicken in Walnut Sauce, a Georgian recipe

Sometimes I get requests for recipes other than Armenian ones. Here is one such request:

My name is Tamara,
   …It is such a pleasure to read the stories (in your blog) of different Armenian people, and where various recipes come from!!
I was wondering if there is an Armenian version of a Georgian (correct me if I’m wrong) dish Satsivi (chicken in a walnut sauce)?

I am Armenian (from my mother’s side) living in London. I have recently started reading a lot about Armenian history and trying to catch up with the country I deeply love in my heart, but know so little about. And so in my search I came across your blog- and reading it makes me very happy! I am trying one of your recipes tonight- very excited!

Thank you so much in advance!”

Tamara’s Satsivi – Chicken in Walnut Sauce

In response to Tamara’s request, I sent her the recipe below, explaining that although I’ve had this recipe for quite a while, I’ve never made due to my husband’s allergy to walnuts. (Maybe it works with pecans??)
I don’t know if the recipe I sent Tamara is an Armenian version of this traditionally Georgian dish, but there is a similar recipe in Alice Bezjian’s ‘The Complete Armenian Cookbook’.

Here is my recipe:

Chicken with Walnut Sauce
Serves 6
Ingredients for preparing the chicken:
1 (2 to 3 lb.) whole chicken, rinsed and cut in half
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
One small bunch of parsley – leaves and stems
4 peppercorns, lightly crushed
Salt to taste
Water (about 3 to 4 cups)

Sauce ingredients:

2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed
1 cup of the chicken broth (from above procedure)
1 ½ to 2 cups walnut pieces, toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for chicken:

1. Place rinsed chicken in a large pot with the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns, salt, and enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook over medium heat for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Add water during the cooking process, if necessary. Remove any foamy scum that rises to the surface.

2. When chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth; allow to cool a bit, then remove the meat, discarding the skin and bones. Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks. Set meat aside, keeping it warm.

3. Strain broth through a sieve. Discard the vegetables, peppercorns and any unwanted particles. Set aside strained broth separately from the chicken. Measure out one cup of broth. Place remaining broth in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid; refrigerate and save for another use.

Directions for Walnut Sauce:

1. Toast the walnuts in a dry, non-stick skillet, until their fragrance fills the air; do not burn. Cool slightly.

2. In the meantime, soak the slices of bread in the 1 cup of the reserved chicken broth, about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid; place bread in the bowl of a food processor.

3. Add the walnuts; blend until it resembles a paste. Add the garlic, coriander, paprika, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Blend until the mixture has thickened slightly.

To serve:

Place chicken chunks in a serving bowl. Pour walnut sauce over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Serve cold.

NOTE: Traditionally, this dish is served cold, but it may also be eaten immediately after preparing.

In addition to my recipe, I sent Tamara two others I found online – one from ‘Recipe Goldmine’; the other from an Australian website.

When all was said and done, Tamara sent me her final response:

Once again thank you for your help! I have ended up doing a Georgian Satsivi- it was quite a bit of work! But we really liked it!! Though I must say that I have overdone it a bit with the spices, probably next time I will get it right!!

I ended up using a recipe from YouTube, but I have modified it a little bit, as I was cooking for only 2 people, and I had chicken fillets. I have used less water than in the recipe video, to achieve a thick Satsivi sauce, also I have used much less garlic.”

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  1. F September 13, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    Hi! I am making Armenian food for a cultural presentation at my son's school. What is this dish typically served with? Rice? Bulgur? Bread? Please let me know. Thanks!

  2. Robyn September 14, 2017 at 2:50 am

    You can serve this with rice pilaf or bulgur pilaf. It's good with either one. Recipes for both are on the website. Hope your son's schoolmates will like it – good luck! Robyn


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