Margarita's International Recipes


Tovuq Tabaka

Chicken Tabaka

Chicken Tabaka is probably Georgia's most famous dish, and one that has been adopted by Russian restaurants. It's pretty simple: the chickened is flattened and cooked on a skillet under a heavy weight. But what a great method of cooking this is! It leads to a moist, succulent and very tasty chicken, made even yummier by serving it with garlic sauce.

Chicken Tabaka is traditionally made with young chickens weighing a couple of pounds. In America, even young chickens weigh at least twice as much so many people substitute them with squab or guinea hens. I can't get squab at my local supermarket, however, and guinea hens are mostly white meat, so I decided to use the smallest young chicken I could find which turned out to be about 4 1/2 pounds. Fortunately, once I removed the rib cage, I had no problem fitting it into my 12" saute pan. You can also use chicken parts, though you don't get the full effect of looking at the squashed chicken (though that could be a good thing).

To press the chicken you can use a large pot filled with water or anything else that is particularly heavy. Cover the chicken with parchment paper first, though. On top of the paper I put a plate and then a 25lb bag of lead shot - but just because I had it and had never found anything else useful to do with it. Water in a heavy pot should be fine.

Chicken Tabaka


  • 1 chicken, approx. 4 1/2 lbs.
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed.
  • 2 Tbsp butter


Put the chicken on a cutting board, back side down, and cut the breast bone vertically, separating the chicken in two. Open the chicken up (you may need to make some more cuts to the skin to do this, and using a knife carefully remove the back bone as well as the breast bone and chicken ribs. When you are done, only the thigh/leg and wing bone should remain. Discard bones or use for stock. Place the chicken skin side up, cover with plastic wrap, and pound until flattened. Dry the chicken with a kitchen or paper towel. Season with salt and pepper and rub crushed garlic on it.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the chicken skin-side up. Cook for five minutes. Turn the chicken, cover with parchment paper and place a lidded water-filled pot on it. Turn heat down to medium/medium-low and cook for 25 minutes, depending on the weight of your chicken. Remove weight and turn chicken again (skin side up). Replace weight and cook for another 25 minutes. A heavier chicken will take a bit longer.

Remove, carve and serve with garlic sauce.

Adapted from several recipes.

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