If there is one country that has exceeded my expectation regarding the food, it has to be Georgia. Whether it is the Georgian cheese, a wide variety of Georgian wines, traditional handmade breads, fresh salad or an array of delectable dishes, you can travel to Georgia for a great gastronomic experience alone.
The traditional Georgian dishes of this unique country are something that made me hooked on to it immediately. Yet to come under the radar of popular European destination, this country of the Black Sea and Caucasus Mountains can take you on an overwhelming journey where food and wine are celebrated at another level.
Located at the crossroad between Asia and Europe, Georgia stands unique in every way. The Georgian food is not the only exception. Influenced by the Mediterranean World, Middle Eastern countries, Asia and the Persian Kitchen, the Georgian traditional food is a blend of varied flavours.
The birthplace of wine, Georgia has been making wine for the past 8000 years. It is quite obvious that the wide variety of wine and the large number of wineries in the Kakheti region of the country has been drawing a large number of wine lovers to this country each year. Walnut, Cheese, Pomegranate and Kidney Beans are the most common ingredients present in the Georgian traditional food.
On my last trip to Georgia, I had a great time sampling some of the best traditional Georgian dishes. Here I have compiled a list for your next visit to this gorgeous country.
Which are the Top Traditional Georgian dishes that should not be missed? Find out below
The classic Georgian cheese bread known as Khachapuri is unbeatable. The melting cheese in your mouth as you taste the best traditional Georgian dish can surely give you a better sense of their food culture. Filled with cheese, the fat and round fluffy bread is delectable and the first thing you should taste in Georgia.
There are a few varieties of Khachapuri and they vary from region to region.There are three common varieties of Khachapuri, namely, the Imeretian Khachapuri, Adjarian Khachapuri and Megrelian Khachapuri. You will get Khachapuri everywhere, albeit the best I had was at The Room hotel in Kazbegi, the most beautiful mountain region of Georgia.
Another famous traditional Georgian dish is Khinkali. It has a stark resemblance with Chinese soup dumpling and Indian Momo. It is a popular dumpling made with a variety of fillings like pork, mince lamb and beef. The filled dumplings are boiled in the water and not steamed. Then, they twist it into a knot at the top. The knot helps you to get hold of the dumpling, bite a small hole in the side and slurp out the juices.
You also get dumplings filled with potato and cheese for vegetarians. My absolute favourite is the mountain style Khinkali, filled with minced lamb. It is quite juicy inside. It tastes heavenly as you take the first bite and your mouth gets filled with the flavoured minced meat with juice. It is quite filling and one of the most preferred dishes during lunch and dinner.
Lobio is another common traditional Georgian dish, found almost everywhere in the country. It is basically boiled beans. But, the way Georgians present this dish, makes all the difference. They have taken this humble dish to another level. I absolutely loved the hot boiled beans with spices, served in a clay pot with the pickles, fresh spring onion, and mchadi cornbread.
It is a platter of finely chopped beet-root, nettles, cabbage, spinach, eggplant, beans, cheese and other vegetables, combined with ground walnuts, vinegar, onions, garlic, and herbs. It is served with small round breads. Pkhali is one of the common traditional Georgian dishes which can be stated as a starter.
Another must have traditional Georgian dish is Badrijani nigvzit. It is basically a fried and rolled eggplant stuffed with walnut paste and spices. This is one of my favourite Georgian dishes. I absolutely loved the way they use walnut in different ways in the food.
The Georgian salad is a favourite amongst the tourists and locals. The basic salad includes chunks of fresh tomato and cucumber with basil, red onion and rocket lettuce, combined with olive oil, red onion and the traditional Georgian walnut dressing on top. It is very popular and delicious.
This is a walnut paste with spices, used in a variety of traditional Georgian dishes. Don’t miss chicken in Satsivi sauce. Satsivi is also served as a paste along with vegetable dishes, fish, or sometimes with boiled eggs as well.
If you are a beef lover, another must try traditional Georgian dish is Ostri. The hot, spicy beef stew seasoned with garlic, parsley and coriander will give you the most satisfying gastronomic experience.
Another lip-smacking dish which should be on your list is Tolma. It is a traditional Georgian dish consisting of minced meat and rice with spices (oregano, onion and mint) wrapped in grape leaves. It is mouth-watering and you would love to repeat it. A must try dish in the republic of Georgia for sure.
Another famous traditional Georgian dish is Kubdari from Svaneti region. It is basically a meat pie, filled with chunks of meat (pork, lamb or goat), flavoured with Georgian spices and onions.
Lobiani is similar to Khachapuri. But, instead of cheese, it is bean-filled dough, cooked on wood fire. This is the traditional flatbread. It is light crunchy from outside and filled with soft beans inside making it quite an interesting dish to have anytime during the day. I absolutely loved the way the Georgian people are making use of beans in different dishes, only to enhance the taste.
Rachuli (Chicken in blackberry sauce)
The Georgians take sauces very seriously like their wines. They have a variety of sauces which are used with different kinds of meats, vegetables and in other food preparation. Rachuli sauce is most commonly used with roasted chicken and it is one of the common dishes in the mountain regions. They use locally found berries from the mountain areas, combined with fresh herbs and traditional spices. Though, you need an acquired taste to make it normal for your taste buds.
Churchkhla is a local candy, available on the streets, markets, stores, malls and anywhere. It is often called Georgian Sneakers. It is one of the favourite souvenirs to bring back from this country. It is made of toasted walnuts and nuts dipped in grape juice and left to dry by hanging it. It is sweet and quite flavoursome. You get a wide variety of Churchkhela in the market.
Cheese is an indispensable part of Georgian cuisine. One of the main ingredients in any traditional Georgian dishes would always have cheese. So, if you are a cheese lover, Georgia is a place to be for the best culinary journey in the world. Georgia produces more than 250 varieties of cheese and is considered one of the top countries to produce the best cheese in the world.
There is one famous quote in Georgia, “If you don’t have Kveli (cheese in Georgian) at home, then you are dead”. A Georgian supra (feast table) is unimaginable without cheese. The most famous cheese from Georgia is Sulguni, which is a speciality from the Western Georgia (Samegrelo region). There are two types of Sulguni cheese, like an ordinary one and smoked Sulguni. Imeruli cheese from Georgia’s Imereti region is one of the best known cheese from Georgia. It is soft and tender.Another preferred cheese from the mountain region is Gouda. It is traditionally made with sheep’s milk and aged in bag made from sheep’s skin for weeks.
When you are in the birth country of wine, not having wine is a sin. I was floored with the variety of wines I tasted during my trip to Georgia. The Kakheti region is known as the wine region of the country and flaunts vineyards in abundance. The wide variety of wines, made traditionally and aged in the qvevri buried in the ground,make it the most unique wines in the world.
I don’t remember the exact count of glasses I had during my lunch and dinner sessions at various locations in Georgia. But, all I remember is that I drank way more wine than water in Georgia. Don’t forget to try Chacha ( local wine) in Georgia. Here are some of my recommendations for wine lovers.
- Classic Saperavi
- Budeshuri Saperavi
- Otshanuri Sapere
Where to eat traditional Georgian food in Georgia?
I have visited a few of the popular restaurants in the country. Here is the list of restaurants which you should visit during your trip to Georgia to have the best of Georgian food.
- Gorgasali Restaurant
- Cafe Littera
- Cafe Leila
- The restaurant at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi
- Pheasants Tears Winery
Prince Alexander restaurant at Radisson Collection Hotel
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