Georgia, a small but proud country of around 3.7 million people in Eurasia’s Caucasus area, is a small but proud country with significant cultural and culinary influences from Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Because food styles differ by region, each Georgian dish can be prepared in a variety of ways. Discovering the cuisine of these locations provides valuable insight into the different Kingdoms and eras that have shaped Georgia into what it is now. Georgian food has something for everyone, from cheesy pastries to rich and hearty stews to candle-shaped fruit and nut treats, and you’ll want to sample them all.
This cheese-filled bread is Georgia’s national meal and a carbohydrate overload you won’t be able to resist. Khachapuri comes in a variety of shapes, styles, and ingredients, but it’s most usually seen as a yeasted bread stuffed with Imeretian cheese, salt, and occasionally egg yolks. Boat-shaped bread with feta or mozzarella, lots of butter, potato, or piled like a cheese lasagna are some of the other variations. At Sakhachapure #1, which offers enormous quantities at a reasonable price, you can taste numerous variations of this meal.
Ostri is a comforting, satisfying, and substantial beef stew cooked with tomato sauce, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, red pepper, and spices. This meal is sometimes confused with chashushuli, which is similar but has the meat cooked separately before adding the tomatoes and mushroom sauce. All of the ingredients in ostri are cooked together, giving the meal a meaty flavor. Try ostri at Racha Tavern, a Tbilisi institution that will keep both your pocketbook and your stomach full.
Kubdari, the Svans’ national meal (Svaneti is in Georgia’s northwestern area), is a leavened bread pastry stuffed with chunky meat like lamb or pork and seasoned with onion, garlic, and spices like coriander, red pepper, and thyme. After that, it’s cooked on both sides in a skillet before being baked and served hot. For a wonderful outdoor meal and great service, consider this dish at Restaurant Lushnu Qor.
Elarji is a Georgian dish made with cornmeal and cornflour and sulguni cheese that is baked for about an hour before being served with bazha (a walnut sauce). The consistency is thick and elastic, making it extremely stretchable (as if you were stretching out pizza dough). Mapshalia, a hidden gem with incredibly amazing carvings on the walls, serves this mouthwatering cheesy delicacy.
Pkhali refers to “chopped salads” and is made up of whatever vegetables are available (such as eggplant, carrots, spinach, cabbage, beans, or beets) plus walnuts, onion, garlic, cilantro, and vinegar or lemon juice. It can be served as a side dish, on bread, or in a combination with other pkhali varieties. Shavi Lomi in Tbilisi has some.
This Georgian sweet, shaped like a candle or a giant carrot, is composed of grape juice-coated almonds and doubles as a decoration. Though there are many various types of these sweet delicacies, the procedure usually involves stringing walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts together and then dipping the formation in grape wine, sugar, and flour until it is completely soaked and coated. The candied nuts are then allowed to air dry for many days. Try it at any of the local markets or Barbarestan’s unique twist on churchkhela.
These Georgian meat dumplings are as tasty as any other, and they’re usually loaded with veal or pork, as well as fresh herbs, jalapeño peppers, and onions. Khinkali developed in Georgia’s mountains, specifically in the Pshavi, Mtiuleti, and Khevsureti regions, before spreading throughout the country. The beef is frequently cooked in broth, which makes this meal extremely juicy (don’t attempt eating it with a fork!). At Maspindzelo, you can try the khinkali.
This vegetarian vegetable stew, similar to Georgian ratatouille, can be eaten cold or hot. It can be eaten with toast and contains vegetables such as eggplant, red pepper, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, and garlic. It’s a great summer dish because it’s light, healthful, and filling. Enjoy it at Cafe Tiflis, a quaint and romantic eatery that serves a variety of classic Georgian national meals.
Lobio can be prepared in a variety of ways, as with many Georgian meals. Dark red, cooked kidney beans are blended and mashed with garlic, walnuts, chili pepper, onions, coriander, and vinegar in a typical form served cold. It can also be made with meat and comes in a variety of spicy degrees. Lobio is served with vegetables and Georgian cornbread at Salobie Bia.
This wrapped fruit snack, similar to a Georgian take on fruit leather, is made with pureed fruit such as fig, plums, cherries, or apricot and is sometimes used to spice stews. They’re a delightful little snack that you can simply get by the side of the road, so stop at any of these little stands for one as an afternoon pick-me-up.