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Georgian Food – a guide for khinkali, churchkhela and other famous dishes from Georgia

Enter the world of Georgian food!

Travel equals food. You can’t get away with that. Either you travel for food, or you have to eat sometimes during the day. Georgian food has its own taste, there is no doubt. But also, you can see many similarities and influences from other cultures. Nearby and far away. In this article, some of the Georgian food will be served. Enjoy!

Georgians loves freshly baked bread

If there is one thing Georgians love, it is bread. Two of these are the Shotis and the Khachapuri, maybe the most common bread types when it comes to Georgian food.

Shotis – Georgians answer to the French baguette

Delicious Georgian shoti bread
A half eaten Shotis bread

Shotis are white flour bread baked in a special kind of oven called Torne/Turne or Tone in Georgia. The breads shape is close to a canoe and sold everyday everywhere in their own shops. Price for this bread is around 0,80-1,00 lari (about $0,40) . Enjoy this bread by itself, or use it on the side for a dish with vegetables, meat, soup – whatever floats your boat. Georgian food rarely go by without freshly baked shotis.

Khachapuri – Georgian food placed on top ten fattest food in the world!

Alright, this might be the number one dish of the whole country. Most Georgians say the prefer Khachapuri over pizza, and it is one of the most fattening dishes in the world. It is hard to explain Khachapuri with one description as it vary from region to region. But common to all Khachapuris is that it consist of bread with the salty Georgian cheese. The most famous version might be the Adjara version (this is the fattest one). Here the Khachapuri is served as a boat with cheese, melting butter and an egg plum. Use a fork and stir it all together, wait some minutes (if you can) and enjoy the meal. A khachapuri costs around 3-5 lari (about $1,2-2), depending on what kind of khachapuri you order.

In other regions you may find only with cheese – sometimes both inside and on top. Other places also serve with meat or beans.

In most bakeries and shops you can also get bread filled with different ingredients. Sausage, potatoes, cheese, mushrooms and beans are some of the more common fillings. Georgian food is diverse.

Georgian cheese – Georgian food is salty and homemade everyday

Georgians love cheese and diary products are not hard to find in this country. One of the most typical cheeses in Georgian food is the Sulguni. Sulguni has a sour and salty taste, known as “pickled cheese”. Sulguni is actually accountable for about 27 % of the whole cheese production in Georgia.  This cheese is the most usual cheese when you order Khachapuri.

Khinkali – you can always eat some Georgian dumplings

Georgian dumpling. As with the Khatchapuri, there are many varieties of this dish – all depending on which region you are in. Georgian food is truly bound to its regions. The most frequent filling is mixed minced meat (pork, lamp, beef), onion, pepper, salt and cumin. But there is also possible to get this in vegetarian version with mushrooms. You order as many you want to eat and prices are generally listed per piece. Sometimes, Khinkali is also served in broth, as seen in this photo below.

Khinkali in broth
Khinkali served in a broth with a dash of sour milk (similar to yoghurt or cremefraiche)

 

Vegetables – Georgia offers fresh and colorful vegetables

Everywhere you go in Georgia, you will find people selling vegetables and fruits. The quality is good and prices are low. This is the keyword for Georgian food. The common items sold are watermelons, tomatoes, onions, peaches, aubergines, garlic, herbs and plums. Also these places also sell nuts, dried fruits and sometimes also honey and eggs. Watermelons seems to be the number one for Georgian food during the summer, and it makes perfect sense on a hot summer day.

As you might see, these vegetables are what Georgians cook with. Georgian food often includes the following. Salads are normal, the simplest one being cucumber and tomato. Aubergines with walnut and carrots is also a classic. Furthermore, vegetables served in a pot with herbs and spices are easy to order when you are out.

Next to vegetables and fruits, spices are also available everywhere in Georgia. The taste of Georgian spices, be it smoked paprica, yellow curry, pepper and chili, is truly amazing. Some regions have their own specific spice, for example Svaneti salt.

Enjoy the fresh and tasty spices at Georgian markets
Homemade sauces and many spices – pick and chose which ones you need today!

Most guesthouses comes with free use of a kitchen. Check what is available (oil, spices, pots etc.) and then hit the marked and enjoy a cheap home cooked meal. Next to markets, there are also countless shops and kiosk – and they are somewhat different, offering a new side to Georgian food.

A typical Georgian shop – a different side of Georgian food

Regardless if it is a fancy shop that looks modern and expensive or a small street kiosk – this is what you will find. Most likely.

The best snickers
Purple snickers!
  • Fruits and vegetables – especially watermelons
  • Russian canned fish
  • Cookies and biscuits – pick and mix
  • Pasta in different shapes –  pick and mix
  • Rice, buckwheat, lentils, dry beans – pick and mix
  • A random selection of cakes and bread at the counter
  • Purple snicker (it is the best snicker!)
  • Chocolate candy bars – pick and mix
  • Georgian wine in all kinds of volume
    • Wine bottles, wine plastic bottles, wine plastic dunks

The fact that you can buy a lot of stuff in loose weight makes Georgian shops very funny. You can go and pick exactly the three cookies, four pieces of chocolate candy bars, 150 g of pasta and a purple snickers. It is an interesting form of shopping freedom. And cheap! Georgian food do not disappoint in the markets and shops, that is for sure.

Last, but not least, this Georgian food article will end with a traditional Georgian candy bar – a perfect snack for anytime.

Churchkhela – a Georgian candy bar filled with natural ingredients and high on calories

Presented as “Georgian snickers” this delicious fruit-and-nut snack is worth your time. Sold everywhere, at the corners, in kiosks, at markets and in parks. Depending on the fruit wrapping it can be refreshing, sweet, light and heavy. The crunchy nuts inside, usually walnuts or hazelnuts, makes it a very tasty snack. And it seems to be healthy too – I mean, what can be wrong with fruits and nuts (unless you are allergic)?

The churchkhela looks like a strange sausage, or a candle, as the nuts are on a string and then dipped in fruit juice. The fruits can be grapes, apple, ginger, but most used is pomegranate. There is not sugar in traditional churchkhela, but the candy bar is still high on calories.

The high season for churchkhela is in the autumn, and the claim is that the Kakheti region produce the best ones. Not so strange as this is also the most famous wine region of Georgia. Churchkhela is definitely an unique contributor to Georgian food.

So, there is definitely something for everyone in Georgia. Even though bread and cheese is mainly served to every meal, it is not hard to get gluten-free and vegan options such as vegetable soups, salads and vegetable pots. As for protein source in this category, beans and lentils are available and commonly used all over the country.

When it comes to what you should drink to your meal, the choice is easy: Georgian wine.

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