You will never see a Georgian more sure of themselves than when they have a foreign guest taste a Georgian dish for the first time – they just know it’ll go down well. What is not to love? The combination of Georgian spices and walnuts creates a totally new sensation for the taste buds; no food promises comfort like the Georgian cheese-bread khachapuri, not to mention khinkali – the meat dumplings that complement any dining or social situation. The country’s variety of soups are guaranteed to make significant changes to your winter diet, lobio represents the full potential of beans, and pelamushi and churchkhela will make you realise that, while the best way to use grape juice might be wine-making, it certainly should not be the only way it is utilised.
It goes without saying that Georgian cuisine is a big part of the country’s culture, as many things associated with Georgian food are representative of its character. Observe a Georgian at a supra (a traditional Georgian feast) and you’ll see why – how social and friendly they are, how much they love to eat, drink, and sing, and, true to their natural hospitality, push fellow supra attendees (especially tourists) to overeat, over-drink, and, though rarely, over-sing. At a supra or otherwise, all Georgian dishes come in large portions, implying that as a part of a very social culture, it is always eaten in company.
Size most definitely doesn’t matter in relation to this Georgian cheese-filled bread that comes in all shapes and forms, depending on the specific region it originates from. Traditionally made from Georgian cheese and bread that is leavened and allowed to rise and is then shaped in various ways, khachapuri has been a symbol of Georgia for a long-time, embodying not only the tasty cuisine of the country, but its hospitality and unique traditions. Inscribed on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia, khachapuri is not the only Georgian bread with a filling. Other traditional breads include lobiani (with the same dough as khachapuri but instead of cheese, a filling of beans), pkhvlovana (bread with spinach filling), khabidzgina (bread with potato and cheese filling), kubdari (bread with various meat fillings).
The 27th of February was announced as National Khachapuri Day, honoring the country’s signature dish, which has proven to be timeless both in Georgia and internationally.
This soup dumpling is no less of a signature Georgian dish than Khachapuri. Having originated from the mountainous Pshavi, Khevsureti, Tusheti and Mtiuleti, traditionally khinkali consists of minced meat, usually beef, onions, cumin, pepper, and salt. Since then, many variations have been made with the filling and nowadays, veggie-friendly khinkali with mushrooms, potatoes, or cheese can easily be found in Georgian restaurants.
Khinkali is such a symbol of Georgia that most of the fridge magnets sold within the country are khinkali-shaped!
This traditional Georgian dish combines vegetables (most commonly aubergine, spinach, beetroot and carrot) with a walnut sauce. Best paired with mchadi (Georgian corn flour bread) and Georgian cheese, pkhali is usually eaten as a starter and has a more traditional taste if made according to the recipe from the western part of Georgia.
Georgians love their walnuts. This Georgian dish is made with turkey or chicken, which is then added into a walnut sauce. Satsivi is traditionally a festive dish, usually made during New Year/Orthodox Christmas. Differing from other ‘poultry in a walnut sauce’ dishes, satsivi has its own unique mix of spices.
With an appearance resembling that of a candle, churchkhela is a Georgian sweet made from grape must, corn flour and nuts (most commonly hazelnuts in the west part of the country, and walnuts in the east). Threaded on a string, the nuts are dipped into boiling grape juice and left to dry, at times, for months.
Georgians, quite rightly so, take pride in their colourful, calorie-rich cuisine, and with more and more Georgian restaurants opening around the world, it finally seems that this cuisine is getting the recognition it deserves.