Chicken Tabaka … the tastes of my childhood

When I was a kid, my parents took me on vacation to Sochi, a resort city on the shores of Black Sea. Every day we would go for lunch to one of the local restaurants and I would always order Chicken Tabaka. It is a Georgian dish and is a classic example of that amazing cuisine.

For some reason, that’s all I wanted to eat and it was delicious.

Now, as a grown man, I’ve ordered it in few restaurants but it has never come close to my Sochi lunch. Finally, we’ve decided to make it at home and finally I have experienced the flavor I so loved when I was little.

This recipe is simple and delicious.

We have made few changes:

  • Use cast iron skillet instead of a regular one
  • Used crushed tomatoes instead of tomato juice and blended it in a mixer with the ingredients for the sauce
  • Used a tea spoon of cumin instead of half.

Here is the recipe


  • 1 whole Cornish Hen (8 oz, I use two hens to feed the family)
  • salt to taste
  • generous pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
  • 2 Tbsp of oil
  • 1/2 cup water


Wash the hen thoroughly. Towel dry it, put it breast side up. Making sure that the hen remains in one piece, use a sharp knife and slice down the middle of the breastbone in order to separate the rib cage. Turn the hen over and using a meat tenderizer flatten the chicken nicely.

20091214-Cooking-1051 20091214-Cooking-1054

Grind coriander seeds, mix it with cumin and black pepper. Liberally rub the hen with salt first. Once that’s done thoroughly rub the hen with ready spice mixture from both sides.

20091214-Cooking-1059 20091214-Cooking-1064

Heat the skillet on medium-high heat, put the oil in the skillet and heat a little more. Place the hen on the skillet, cover the hen with a sturdy plate or a smaller lid (just to cover the hen), press it nicely with something heavy. If you have those special kitchen weights, that’s great. If you do not, you can use anything around you. If you have a big clean rock you can use that as well. Or you can simply fill a kettle with water and gently press it on top of the plate. The idea is to give the hen enough press to keep it flat, once the cooking time is over.

20091214-Cooking-1066 20091214-Cooking-1067

Flip the hen every 2 minutes for the first 16 minutes. Every time, you will need to take off the weight and the plate to flip the chicken. So, use caution, do not get burnt. Also, watch the temperature. If you feel like your hen is getting burnt, turn the heat down a little. Everyone’s stove top is different.

20091214-Cooking-1068 20091214-Cooking-1069

Once the 15 minutes are up, the chicken should have a nice golden brown color and have a nice crust. Turn down the heat to medium-low, add just a little bit of water and cover the skillet with a lid. Keep the chicken in the skillet for another 5-8 minutes on each side.

20091214-Cooking-1073 20091214-Cooking-1074

You can serve the hen with vegetables, rice or mashed potatoes. We enjoy our chicken without any sides, but with a nice home-made tomato sauce. Trust me, this is the best way to consume the hen! :)

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced or nicely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp of cilantro chopped
  • 1-2 cups of tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • pinch salt if needed

Mix everything well and enjoy the hen with a warm bread dipped in the sauce!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: