Yakhni (Georgian Beef Stew with Walnuts)

Tender beef short ribs braised in a thick walnut sauce and spiced with dried and ground marigold petals, this Georgian Yakhni is a festive dish with bold flavors! It’s spicy, invigorating and perfect served with crusty bread on a chilly day!

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Georgian food around here! And with colder weather moving in, hearty Georgian stews have started making a regular appearance on our dinner table. So today we’re sharing one of our favorites: marigold braised beef and walnut stew or Yakhni! This beef short rib version is not entirely traditional, but maintains the bold flavors that make the walnut stew so incredibly invigorating: dried and ground marigold petals and chile peppers.

small pot of marigold braised beef and walnut stew

Key Yakhni ingredients

We first came across Yakhni in one of our favorite cookbooks: Siharuli: Recipe for Georgian Happiness by Tinatin Mzhavanadze. And siharuli, which translates as joy in Georgian, is exactly what you’ll be experiencing when you tuck into a big bowl of this aromatic beef and walnut stew!

  • Beef short ribs: You’re looking for meaty bone-in ribs cut into manageable sized pieces. The bone adds additional flavor to the broth that makes this Georgian walnut stew extra hearty.
  • Walnuts: Ground walnuts create a thick, luscious sauce and add a rich, almost buttery flavor to the stew.
  • Onions: Two large yellow onions add an extra layer of depth and flavor to this invigorating walnut stew.
  • Garlic: Garlic is pulsed in a food processor with the walnuts to create a flavorful and aromatic paste.
  • Spices: Ground marigold is the key spice here, but we also include coriander and cayenne. If I could convince you to add one ingredient to your spice cabinet for the colder months it would have to be dried marigold. It adds a bit of earthiness and beautiful color to everything it touches and the wonderfully intense aroma makes for an energizing and warming stew — perfect for winter!

A note on sourcing ground marigold: Sometimes translated as Imeretian saffron or even (confusingly) just saffron, marigold is a popular seasoning in Georgian cuisine and a key ingredient in our Khmeli Suneli spice blend. Make sure to avoid true saffron, which is generally sold in threads and can be quite expensive. The marigold used in Georgian cuisine is sold finely ground or in dried crushed petals.

Step by step instructions

Step 1: Make a broth by simmering the short ribs to tender perfection. Generously salt and sear the ribs in a large pot to develop delicious flavor. Then cover the beef ribs with water and simmer until nice and tender. This usually takes me about an hour and a half.

Step 2: Prepare the seasoned walnut paste. While the short ribs are simmering, combine the walnuts, garlic, marigold, coriander and dried chile powder in a food processor. Pulse until a paste forms, scraping down the sides a few times. Don’t shy away from the cayenne — yakhni should have a good kick to it!

Step 3: Saute the onions and walnut paste. Once your short ribs are tender you can remove them from the pot and reserve the cooking liquid in a separate bowl. Then add a bit of butter and saute the onions and walnut paste. Make sure to cook the paste for at least a few minutes — this will help to toast the walnuts and spices and release an extra layer of flavor!

Step 4: Add broth until you reach your desired consistency. After returning the short ribs to the pot, you’ll add about 1.5 cups (350 ml) of the cooking liquid or just enough to form a thick stew. Feel free to add more broth to reach your desired consistency and season with salt (and additional cayenne!) to taste.

close up of beef and walnut stew

Storage

Leftover Yakhni can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

You can reheat Yakhni by warming it gently in a skillet or saucepan on the stovetop. Add a bit of liquid or broth to loosen up the sauce. If frozen, make sure to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Expert tips and tricks

Be patient when making the walnut paste. You want your paste to be finely ground, which may take your food processor a few minutes.

Take your time searing the short ribs. This step adds so much flavor to the walnut stew, so make sure to really take your time developing a good crust.

Adjust the spice level to taste. I love my Yakhni a bit on the spicier side, so always up the cayenne unless someone on my guest list is spice averse.

FAQs

What is Georgian Yakhni?

Yakhni is a popular stew from the Adjaran region of Georgia, where it’s generally made in huge quantities and served at weddings. Our version is adapted to use ingredients that we can source locally, except for the ground marigold which you can easily find online. We also make our yakhni on a much smaller scale — it serves only four as a main dish or about six if part of a larger meal.

Can I use a different cut of meat for Yakhni?

Bone-in beef short ribs add incredible flavor, but boneless beef short ribs or large pieces of beef chuck could be used in a pinch.

What should I serve with Yakhni?

This is a pretty rich and heavy dish, so I like to serve something light. An Easy Cucumber Tomato Salad is the perfect accompaniment. Or if you want more Georgian fare, try our Beet and Spinach Pkhali.

plate of marigold braised beef

For more Georgian-inspired recipes, make sure to check out these posts!

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small pot of marigold braised beef and walnut stew

Georgian Yakhni Recipe


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  • Author: Brit Kapustina
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4
    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cook Time: 2 hours
    • Category: Dinner
    • Method: Stovetop
    • Cuisine: Georgian

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds (1 kg) bone-in beef short ribs, cut into large pieces
  • 12 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 2.5 cups (250 grams) walnuts, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried marigold
  • ½ tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½1 teaspoon cayenne (or other spicy ground chile)
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Generously season the beef short ribs with salt.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the meat until browned on all sides.
  3. Return all beef short ribs to the pot, add water to cover (approximately 4 cups or 1 liter) and bring the mixture to a boil. Skim any foam off the top of the broth and discard. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1.5-2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
  4. Add the walnuts, garlic, marigold, coriander and cayenne to a food processor. Pulse until the walnuts are finely ground and almost paste-like in consistency. Set aside.
  5. When the beef short ribs are tender, remove from the pot and set aside. Pour the cooking liquid into a heatsafe bowl and reserve for the last step.
  6. Melt 2 tablespoons (30 g) of butter in the pot over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion and cook for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
  7. Add the remaining tablespoon (15 g) of butter and the walnut mixture. Cook 3 minutes, stirring continuously.
  8. Return the beef short ribs to the pot and add enough of the cooking liquid to form a thick gravy (approximately 1.5 cups or 350 ml). Season with salt to taste (approximately 1-2 teaspoons).

Notes

Storage: Leftover Yakhni can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

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