Sulguni is a type of cheese native to the country of Georgia and the surrounding areas. It is a semi-hard cheese made in much in the same way as cheddar cheese, except that it is brained near the end of the cheese-making process and is not aged for very long afterwards. The cheese has a sour and savory flavor that can be very subtle or sharp, depending on the exact times used while it is being made. Within Georgia, sulguni cheese is very popular and can be fried before being eaten. Other recipes that include sulguni include a type of cheese-stuffed unleavened bread known as khachapuri and a variety of salads that include the cheese as a main ingredient.
Making sulguni begins by using bacteria on milk to separate the curds from the whey. This is traditionally done using a live starter, but it can be performed with rennet in more commercial production. The cheese is then formed into blocks and turned regularly until the acidity reaches the desired level. The curds are cut into pieces and kneaded until they begin to come together in a solid mass. The sulguni is placed in cold brine for several days, after which it is formed into the final shape and completed.
Although suluguni has the outward appearance of mozzarella cheese, it is actually much more elastic in texture and has a more pronounced flavor. Some of the cheese that is formed into rounds is actually deep fried in oil before it is sold to develop the flavors and create a crust around the inner cheese. There are different styles of suluguni based on the type of milk used, from mild cow’s milk to a sour, goat’s milk version.
One use for suluguni is a type of bread known as khachapuri. This is made from rolled dough that contains baking powder instead of yeast as a leavening agent. The flattened dough is filled with the cheese and an egg before being folded to seal the filling inside. It is baked and served warm, sometimes accompanied by salad.
Another preparation is to slice the cheese into medallions, dredge them in flour and then fry them in butter until they are browned on both sides. This is possible because the cheese has a high melting point and can resist fast frying while maintaining most of its shape. The fried cheese can be sprinkled with diced mint or parsley and served as an appetizer, or it can be used as an ingredient in a salad.