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Adjara is one of the outstanding regions of Georgia located on the Black Sea coast in the extreme southwestern part of Georgia, Adjaristskali valley.
The main river of the region is Adjaristskali.
Adjara is divided into two main parts: Upper Adjara or plateau, Lower Adjara, and Shuakhevi located between them.
The center of Upper (Zemo) Adjara was Didadjara in ancient times, Khikhani in the Middle Ages, and Khula (same as Khulo) later.
The center of Kvemo Adjara is the village of Keda.
The Autonomous Republic of Adjara includes the municipalities of Batumi, Khulo, Keda, Kobuleti, Shuakhevi, and Khelvachauri.
Ajara is characterized by a humid climate. Kobuleti-Chakvi ridge divides Adjara into mountain and coastal zones. Reasonably, the coastal area is more humid than the mountainous area.
This small introduction was made to give you a general idea of Adjara. The following article will discuss the local dishes of Upper Adjara.
As mentioned in previous articles, we were guided by a resident of Adjara who explained in detail the traditional dishes that you must try when visiting Upper Adjara and experience lots of emotions.
Dariko, a woman living in the village of Khikhasdziri, Khulo region, told us about the main dishes of Adjara. We also searched for information by ourselves about some of the dishes and today, we will introduce to you the traditional dishes characteristic of Upper Adjara... In the article, we will tell you about some well-known or lesser-known dishes.
In the highlands of Ajara, 95% of the dishes are prepared with butter, this is the traditional way that is preserved till today. Consequently, Adjarian traditional dishes are high-fat and nutritious.
The first dish is Borano. You might have heard about it, however, the fact that there are several types of Borano, most likely is new for many of you.
Traditional Borano is made from braided cheese and butter.
Braided cheese is defatted cheese that is braided as you can see in the photo.
To make Borano you have to place grated, braided cheese in hot water and pour melted butter on top.
There is also a slightly different way to make Borano.
Braided/grated mountain cheese, cut and soaked in hot water, which should make the cheese stretchable, is placed in a cold bowl, and fried/boiled butter is poured on top of it. The dish is tasty and nutritious. It goes well with Mchadi and is mainly served for breakfast and dinner.
The butter is fried until it turns brown and then this substance is added to the dish. Fried butter leaves sediment, which should not be poured into the dish.
The photo below shows Borano and Kaimaghi. Borano has fried butter poured over it.
We will tell you about Kaimagi a little below...
Photo of Kaimaghi!
When talking about Adjarian cuisine, we will often have to mention fried butter, and here we will introduce you to its preparation method and purpose in Adjarian cuisine.
Fried butter is a traditional Adjarian butter made from Kaimaghi. It is "washed under 10 to 20 juices" before being stored, then salted and stored. If you didn't understand what it means "to wash under 10 to 20 juices", this is a process of rinsing under the water. A certain amount of butter placed in a vessel is left under running water... "10 juice" means that the butter has been washed ten times in running water and then drained, "20 juice' - twenty times. In Adjara, butter is washed by hand, not with a spoon or ladle. After washing and salting it is ready for storage. It can be stored for a year. This is how the fried butter, which is used in the dishes mentioned above, is prepared. While cooking, the butter should not burn, but slightly change the color to brown.
Back to Borano...
Borano is prepared in different ways: with potatoes, eggs, corn flour, etc. However, in the old and traditional way, Borano is prepared with cheese.
Among the many types of Borano, Borano prepared with potatoes is the best to eat daily, as it is not so fatty and therefore it can be served daily in small or large quantities according to desire.
Borano with Potatoes
Now you will find out how Borano with potatoes is made:
A few peeled potatoes are boiled, preferably in a cast iron pan, so that the substance does not stick to it after adding the cheese. After straining potatoes, they are mashed and mixed with braided cheese. The cheese will be added to the potatoes with a little water. After the cheese is melted in the potatoes, the substance will become whole and when it starts to stretch, it means that the dish is ready.
Fried butter is poured on the dish and Borano with potatoes is ready to serve.
Adjarians also have Borano with eggs.
After the cheese melts in the water, Adjarian housewives add 2 or 3 eggs to it and the dish is ready. The number of eggs depends on personal taste. Just take into account that the dish should be a bit thick. If the cheese is not salty, you can add salt as dressing in the end.
The next type of Borano is Borano made with corn flour.
This dish is prepared in such an appealing way that I want to describe it in detail so that you can prepare it yourself. So: let's take 2 tablespoons of corn flour, pour it into cold water, and put it on the fire. After it starts boiling, add the braided cheese in the shredded form. After the cheese is melted you should add 2 eggs and mix until the substance becomes whole. After that, in the same way, we pour the fried butter into the dish.
That's all. It's a very simple and tasty dish.
Borano made with corn flour goes very well with a cup of tea. It can also be spread on bread and served that way.
Prepared Borano is served with a deep tray.
Now I want to tell you more about Kaimaghi, as mentioning it briefly is not enough.
Kaimaghi is prepared as follows: milk is boiled slowly, and after boiling, it is stirred and kept at a hot temperature for several hours and sometimes even days. It is served with Mchadi and cheese.
Kaimaghi is made from cow's milk. Milk heated to 80 degrees is poured into a separator and held. Fat-free milk comes out on one side and Kaimaghi in the form of fat - on the other side. It has a thick, cream-like structure and contains a fairly high-fat percentage, almost 60%. It is served with tea, spread on bread. After Kaimaghi is cooled, butter can be made from it.
It can also be served as dessert. It is delicious with Baklava and honey pancakes, and it has a special and memorable taste with quince and apple.
Kaimaghi is very popular among tourists and travelers.
Iaghi is called the butter in the highlands of Adjara. More precisely, butter is made from Kaimaghi. Butter, which has to be preserved, is salted. Stored in this way it can last even a year without spoiling.
Along with Borano and Kaimaghi, Signori takes a special place in Adjarian cuisine.
These three, are staple foods for the highlands of Adjara.
Sinori is a nutritious dish as well. It is made from Iukha (thin, fried dough sheets). You have to add Nadughi with garlic and water and hot melted Erbo to it, and fried butter at the end.
Sinori can be sweet too.
Four tablespoons of sugar and 200 grams of water are added to chopped walnuts and fried butter. As soon as the sugar melts and this mass boils, it is poured onto the fried sheets of dough. This is how sweet Sinori is prepared, which tastes and looks delicious.
After a basic overview of Adjarian cuisine, it's time to move on to dinner and start with Kaisapha...
Kaisapha is one of the traditional dishes that deserve more recognition because of its excellent taste.
It may sound incredible, but the dish is made from dried plums.
To specify, dried plums are first cooked, and walnuts and sugar are sprinkled on top of them... two tablespoons are enough for each serving.
In Upper Adjara, walnuts are crushed with stones and then powdered above the dish. After walnuts and sugar, burnt butter is poured over the dish. The dish should be a little juicy. It goes well with tea. It is also a great snack, cause it is rich and makes you feel full for a long time. It is consumed with bread, in the Adjarian way, "with two fingers"...
The next dish we would like to present to you is Iakhni.
Iakhni is not a typical dish of Upper Adjara, it is more familiar in Kobuleti and is well known as Kobuletian Iakhni. However, since the resort of Kobuleti is also one of the special parts of Adjara, we hope that you will be grateful to introduce this dish to you.
The meat lovers will especially like Iakhni.
It is made from beef, which is fried with butter, onion, and saffron, and finally, it is dressed with spiced walnuts and various spices. The dish is served hot on the table, but it is also delicious the next day when the spices and walnuts are already well seasoned in the dish.
In mountainous Adjara, another well-known dish is Malakhto.
It can be said that Malakhto is a dish prepared from green beans, however, in mountainous Adjara, it is prepared differently and is not a typical dish made from green beans.
Malakhto is an Adjarian dish made from fresh beans. After cooking, they are strained and seasoned with various spices, onions, herbs, and walnuts. Finally, you have to add sour grapes sauce which gives the dish a special and unforgettable taste.
The dish is served cold, preferably with hot Mchadi.
Along with Malakhto, we should present to you – Pkhali and Lobio (made from kidney beans).
In Adjara, Winter kidney beans are called black beans, probably because in summer, when the beans are still raw, we call them green beans.
This is how Pkhali-Lobio is prepared in Adjara; Kidney beans are cooked separately and black Pkhali (Kohlrabi) separately. Then the plants are washed, chopped, and mixed with cooked black beans. It is seasoned with garlic and walnuts, as well as salt and pepper.
Adjarians might not accept the sequence of the meals given in the article. But if it was me, I would list all these wonderful dishes in one row, because all of them are distinctive, and here is the next one.
This is the Tavmacaroni (head of Macaroni).
I heard about it for the first time now, from Mrs. Dariko.
It should be noted that this dish is known only in Adjara.
These are the layers of dough, which are called Iukha in Adjara. I already mentioned Iukha above. These are thin layers of dough similar to lavash (Armenian flatbread), but not as soft and stretchy as them.
The layers are baked on top of the iron stove. They should be very thin. After the layers are baked, let’s say 10 pieces, then they are fried in a large pan in oil or butter according to taste, and then, soaked in the water, they are placed one by one. When placing, between all the layers, should spread the fat, butter, or oil. Along with this fat, a walnut mixed in sugar is added too. Every third layer is turned over to fry, then sugar mixed with walnuts is poured again in the same way and butter is poured over them. Finally, after 10-11 layers, the last fried layer is cut into squares, and the sharbat is poured on top. The sharbat itself is made with one cup of water and one cup of sugar. As for sweetness, neither the sharbat nor the dish itself should be sweet.
These wonderful dishes are authentic to the Upper Achara. Remember the names of these dishes well so when traveling to this area you will try them.
Adjarian Chakhokhbili with Rice and Walnuts.
By the way, I found out by chance how Chakhhobili is prepared in the highlands of Adjara, and it is a completely different dish from the famous Chakhhobili. Chakhobili prepared by the Adjarians is also made from chicken, but they add a cup of boiled rice and pounded walnuts and garlic to it. Overall, it comes out like chicken soup with rice and walnuts.
This is about dinner, and now it's time to introduce baked goods, and I want to present Adjarian Achma-Khachapuri.
Now I will tell you about the old, traditional Achma-Khachapuri, which is very popular to this day and even though it’s a bit difficult to prepare, guests are still served by it.
Achma-khachapuri is made from dough kneaded with eggs, cheese, and butter.
It is made of many layers. Usually, there should be eight or eleven layers. After half of the layers are placed, up to 1 kilo of grated cheese is put in, and the remaining layers are put on top again.
Each layer is boiled in boiling, salted water and laid one by one, with melted butter spread between them. If there is no butter, margarine can also be used.
The layers of the small tray are made of 4 eggs, while the larger ones - are of 8 eggs. Only a pinch of salt is added to the dough.
Achma-khachapuri is first cut and then baked.
After Achma-Khachapuri, I think it's time to introduce several dishes that are known in Adjara and mostly in Upper Adjara.
One of them is Chirbuli.
Chirbuli is more popular than other dishes. In different cities and villages of Georgia, it is known as - Chizhi-bizhi.
Chirbuli is almost the same dish, just the preparation is slightly different.
The tomato juice preserved for the winter or the tomatoes themselves, finely chopped, is cooked in fat. While preparing, almost all kinds of greens are added, as well as sprinkled salt. Finally, a few eggs are added, without blending. The dish should be prepared on low heat. During the preparation process, there is no need to stir, only be careful, to prevent burning it to the bottom.
The next Adjarian dish is Khavitsi.
You have probably heard about Khavitsi because it is known in many parts of Georgia, like Racha, Tusheti, and Adjara as well, although the method of preparation is slightly different.
Adjarian Khavitsi is prepared in the following way: Kaimaghi is fried. Inside it, corn flour and a little salt are added. After that, we have to boil it in water for so long that the butter rises to the top. It can be served with a spoon, a fork, and with hands, dipping the bread. The dish is so rich that one portion can feed 5-6 people.
Another compelling Adjarian dish is Kalajo.
We all know that Mchadi and cheese are one of the delicious staple Georgian food.
Mchadi is served hot on the table, though some people eat cold Mchadi as well. Adjarians prepare a dish from cold Mchadi.
They add two cups of water to one spoon of fried Iaghi. Then they add Nadughi (a dairy product) with a large tablespoon and a little salt for taste. When it boils, they add the smashed Mchadi. Kalajo is made with different flavors, some use garlic, and some use walnuts.
And, in the end, I want to tell you about the most interesting dish, rich in legends and traditions.
This is bread porridge.
In Adjara, there is one fascinating dish prepared for postpartum women. In another way, it is called "boy's porridge" and/or "girl's porridge".
They put one tablespoon of oil, salt, and flour in boiled water and place it on low heat. Then you should add salt based on taste, and flour little by little until it thickens. In the meantime, you should fry about five spoons of Iaghi, then distribute it on plates make a hole in the middle, and pour butter inside.
This is a tradition in Adjara! The porridge is given to the postpartum woman first so that her belly will return to "normal" soon and she won't have pains. At the same time, the grandmother serves the neighbors with porridge to make the child lucky!
This pleasant tradition is worth noticing!
And now it is time to move to the Adjarian desserts, and the first one will be the Milk Halva.
Dessert - Milk Halva!
This is the wonder of Adjarian cuisine, with a unique taste. Every guest who visits Upper Adjara gets fascinated by this dessert and wants to take and share it with others.
Milk Halva is the most popular sweet which is called Rdziana in my respondent's family.
It is difficult to prepare Milk Halva, maybe even one of the most difficult on the list of Adjarian cuisine.
It is prepared with 2 liters of milk and 2 kilograms of sugar. After the sugar is added, it should be stirred until the sugar is completely dissolved and mixed with the milk, after which it is put on heat. The substance of sugar and milk is boiled for a long time, even 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature. It should be boiled in a large pot and it needs constant attention while boiling. In the process of boiling, when the substance has already thickened, it is necessary to add Kaimaghi so that it does not get thickened. Adding Kaimaghi is the last step right after it is taken off the stove. Then one tablespoon of Kaimaghi is added and stirred until it melts.
After it is taken off the stove, you should wait until it cools down a little. Then stir and quickly pour onto an oiled pan. The substance should go through the sin by itself. Thus, Milk Halva will have a glossy surface.
Prepared Milk Halva is brown, which is the result of long fermentation.
Milk halva must be cut before it gets cold, otherwise, it won’t be cut.
The taste is sweet and similar to toffee.
Traditionally this Milk Halva was thicker and also cut into big and thick pieces.
There is even a legend in Adjara that mothers gave it to sons going to the army and traditionally 2 pieces were kept until the son returned from the army.
Adjarian sweets are not limited to this, and now I would like to introduce you Burme!
Burme is a roll-shaped sweet similar to baklava. It is made with butter, walnuts, or hazelnuts and sugar. Hot syrup prepared with saffron and lemon zest is poured over freshly baked Burme.
The next sweet is Boregi!
Boregi is made with walnut or hazelnut mixed with sugar, which is wrapped in a thin layer of dough and baked in the oven. It is baked until it turns red, and when it is ready, they pour boiling syrup, as well as hot Iaghi, the same as salted butter.
There is another way of making it too: dough kneaded with oily bread flour is filled with sugared walnuts or nuts. It is wrapped as roulette.
My host taught me another, different way of making Boregi. This is Boregi without filling, which is fried in oil and dipped in syrup.
Boregi Without Filling
Iukha is usually cut into four parts, rolled (like a croissant), and then crushed. Prepared Boregi is fried in oil. It does not have a filling inside, as, during frying in oil, the sugar makes it turn black. After it cools down, it is soaked in syrup. After placing it in syrup, it should boil for a while to remove the oil, and as a result, Boregi has only syrup around it which is very delicious.
The dough for Boregi is kneaded, as usual, only oil is added to make it thin, and a little soda so that the particularly wrinkled and curled areas don’t stick to each other and stay separated.
The Boregi described above is quite tasty and popular among both tourists and locals. The Boregi fried in oil before soaking in syrup is also tasty.
There is such a phrase as "opening the Iukha", which can be a little confusing.
Iukha, as I already mentioned, are thin, fried sheets of dough, and “opening Iukha” is called the process of dough processing. There is such a tradition in Upper Adjara, called "Iukha Feast". On this day, Adjarian housewives “open” 100-150 pieces of Iukha at the same time, which are later used to prepare Sinori and Tavmacaroni, and not only...
I guess you have enough idea about Iukha layers and now let's go back to Adjarian sweets...
I would like to present to you another dessert typical for Upper Adjara - Kuruti.
Kuruti is made with Nadughi and Khavitsi (flour porridge with butter and onion). You should rub them and the clay together well and give it a round or oval shape with the palms. The finished forms will be placed on a wooden plate or tray and left to dry. It must be dried in the shade in good weather. It cannot be dried in direct sunlight so that it does not dry up and split. It takes about a week to dry. It can be stored for more than a year. It goes well with tea or beer.
In mountainous Adjara, people say with humor that Kuruti makes a person intelligent.
Here, I want to end the article about the cuisine of the Upper Adjara with such deliciousness.
Adjarian cuisine is much more diverse. I just tried to give you a more clear idea about Adjarian cuisine, and the best way to discover is to travel to this area and taste it yourself.