Britain is late to unearthing the joys of Georgian food, says writer and food stylist Olia Hercules.

Our lack of Georgian love is set to change though, with the release of her second cookbook, Kaukasis. A follow up to 2015's Mamushka, which explored Olia's Ukrainian heritage, this new collection of recipes focuses on Caucasus - the hub of countries packed together like pickles in a jar at the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

For the book, Olia, 34, returned to the countries that she, her parents and elder brother meandered through on a road trip to visit family in Baku in Azerbaijan, when she was a toddler.

Georgian and Azerbaijani cooking were woven into Olia's childhood, and growing up in the ex-Soviet Union, where ingredients could be really quite scarce at times. She remembers that, if you were eating out, Georgian restaurants "might be OK for food, otherwise it'd be horrible - otherwise you'd really have to go into people's homes to eat well".

Meeting home cooks is still something that fascinates Olia, who includes recipes from the people she met on her travels in Kaukasis.

She borrowed this handy treat from her Armenian aunt Nina, who grew up in Azerbaijan.

"Just before the exams, sat at her Azerbaijani friends' table with sheets of paper covered with lines and scribbles scattered around, they had a snack," explains Olia. "No crisps in those days, but in my view they had something a lot better - cooked cauliflower florets."

Here's how you can make your own healthy something to nibble on...


(Serves 2 as a snack)

1tbsp olive oil

1 head of cauliflower, about 550g, divided into florets

100g unsalted butter

50g stale sourdough bread

Handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 red chilli, diced

1tsp ground sumac (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Brush a large baking tray with the olive oil, spread out the cauliflower florets and roast for about 30 minutes until they are cooked through and starting to colour at the edges.

2. Meanwhile, to make the brown butter, heat the butter in a frying pan and let it sizzle until it starts smelling sweet and nutty. Take the pan off the heat as soon as you smell it and it turns a deep golden colour, pour the contents into a cold bowl and set aside.

3. To make the sourdough crumbs, blitz the bread in a blender or food processor and, if necessary, spread out on a baking tray and place in the bottom of the oven for a few minutes to dry. Then mix with the parsley, chilli and sumac, if using.

4. To serve, dip the cauliflower florets first into the brown butter, then into the sourdough crumbs. Or drizzle the butter over the cauliflower along with some cooked white beans and scatter over the crumbs to make a side dish for some grilled chicken or fish.

n Kaukasis by Olia Hercules, photography Elena Heatherwick, is published in hardback by Mitchell Beazley, priced £25.