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The first thing that comes to mind about Georgia is the lovely nature and superb cuisine. And then - hospitality, which is again associated with tasting delicious Georgian food. The Georgian cuisine is varied and influenced by European, Mediterranean, and Central Asian styles, due to its location. Nevertheless, Georgian cuisine is still unique, it reflects the past of Georgia as a central part of the 'Silk Road' and has become an integral part of the culture.
Traditional dishes from the eastern and western regions are different from each other and have their way of preparation. You will find many bitter and less bitter, sour, salty, or sweet dishes. The main characteristic feature of Georgian gastronomy is the variety of meat dishes. Here you will taste dishes made with poultry, beef, pork, and mutton. The spicy and garlic sauces, several uses of cornflour, and a variety of spices are also noteworthy. It should be noted that Georgian traditional food is quite 'heavy', which is not surprising at all, as it contains a large amount of meat, various cheeses, and baked goods. On the other hand, it is characterized by a wide range of vegetable salads. Thus, it is also vegetarian-friendly and people with different food preferences can find a dish of their taste in Georgian cuisine.
Let's have a look at the must-try dishes in Georgia, we can endlessly talk about.
His Majesty - Khinkali. Khinkali, which is referred to as Pelmeni, is one of the national, Georgian dishes. It originated in the mountainous region of Georgia. Traditionally, khinkali is rolled in twisted knobs of dough and stuffed with beef or pork with spices. The twisted knobs of the dough are sometimes called a "Kuchi" (stomach). After wrapped khinkali is boiled, the broth inside it acquires a special taste and aroma. Khinkali is made with mutton only in the mountainous regions of Georgia. If you want to taste vegetarian khinkali then you can try Khinkali made with mushrooms or potatoes. Before eating, it is necessary to take into account that khinkali is traditionally consumed by bare hands and its juice should not be spilled on the plate. If you plan to eat it with a knife and fork, be sure, that nobody will see you.
Georgian food and wine culture are well reflected in the tradition of the so-called Georgian Supra (feast). It combines a wide range of dishes accompanied by white, dry wine and makes guests lost the track of time. The celebration at the table can take even several hours. It is hard to imagine Georgian supra without khachapuri - baked from dough, flat, round in shape, traditionally with cheese. The dough is either made from yeast or with Matsoni (a fermented milk product). Khachapuri baking techniques are different in different parts of Georgia and this is what makes it special: Imeretian, Megrelian, Adjarian khachapuri. The last mentioned is especially popular. It is an open-faced, boat-shaped khachapuri with cheese, butter, and scrambled eggs in the middle. Adjarian khachapuri is undoubtedly the symbol of Adjara. Adjarian khachapuri is different from Imeretian and Megrelian khachapuri and is considered to be a "heavy" but interesting dish. You will often find it in a must-try dishes list in foreign publications (e.g National Geographic Traveler Food).
Shkmeruli - fried chicken with hot sauce, garlic, and milk originates from one of the regions of Georgia, Racha. The name comes from the village of Racha - Shkmeri. It is made in a clay pan - Ketsi, which makes it even more delicious. Apart from Racha, Shkmeruli can be tasted in almost any restaurant in Tbilisi.
Pkhali is considered to be one of the appetizers on the Georgian tablecloth. It can be prepared with different leaves, such as spinach, cabbage, and beets, among which spinach pkhali attracts the greatest attention. Pkhali can also be prepared with nuts and both, cooked and raw vegetables. Often in different places, spinach pkhali is tasted with cabbage pkhali and eggplant with walnuts on the plate of mkhali.
Eggplant with walnuts belongs to the pkhaleuli dishes (vegetarian dishes from a variety of plants). The eggplant rolls are made with eggplant, walnuts, and dried herbs. It is the best starter and a vegan (gluten-free) choice. You can taste it with other pkhaleuli from a plate with mchadi (Georgian cornbread) as well as separately.
Mchadi is a bread made from traditional cornflour and water. Traditionally, especially in Western Georgia, it is consumed with cheese, although mchadi goes well with both pkhaleuli and beans. In the past, mchadi was consumed instead of bread in poor families, but today mchadi has become an integral part of Georgian cuisine.
Although Mtsvadi is the same as barbecue in many other countries or just fried pork, its name is unique. Mtsvadi is a slice of pork onto skewer roasted on the fire. Beef can also be cooked on a skewer. Mtsvadi can be served with or without vegetables. However, Tkemali sauce is the best match for Mtsvadi (Red or green tkemali is made from fresh plums). In Georgia, tkemali sauce is often served with fried potatoes, sometimes just with bread, fried chicken, etc. In eastern Georgia, mtsvadi is also roasted in white wine, which gives it a special taste.
Ostri the same as chashushuli (stewed) is spicy, beef soup that is very popular both made at home and the restaurant. Other main ingredients are onions, garlic, and plenty of herbs such as basil, parsley, fenugreek, chili peppers, summer savory, and bay leaf.
Chakhokhbili is a traditional Georgian dish. It is made from stewed chicken, tomato sauce, lots of onions and herbs. Its name comes from the Georgian word “khokhobi” (pheasant). The main ingredient though is local tomatoes, which is a key ingredient to give the characteristic taste to chakhokhbili.
It is a thick soup made of chicken, broth, beaten eggs, and flour. Chikhirtma is a perfect cure for a hangover that will make you feel energetic. It is made with mint and saffron, as well as coriander, parsley, and basil.
Kidney bean seeds are boiled with spices. Its fundamental ingredient is onion, vegetable oil, and wine vinegar. Alternatively, you can add tomatoes, walnuts, boiled eggs, and cheese. Like khachapuri, there are different types of Lobio, cold or hot. But the most famous among them is the thick black bean soup, which is served with pickles and mchadi in restaurants and cafes. Lobio in the pot is also very popular.
Satsivi is the most common dish in Western Georgia. Satsivi is a cold thick sauce and consists of walnuts, garlic, vinegar, dried herbs, red pepper, and salt. It is always consumed cold and is considered to be a New Year's Day meal. Satsivi is made with chicken, turkey, or fish.
Kharcho is served as a sauce as well as a soup. As a sauce Kharcho is the best match for Elargi or Ghomi. It is usually made from beef. The walnuts and mixture of various aromatic spices give the dish an unforgettable taste.
The dignity of Samegrelo - Elarji is made with cornflour and sulguni, which is deliciously stretching. You can eat Elarji separately as well as with Baje sauce or the Kharcho mentioned above. The elarji-like dish is Ghomi, which is also made from corn flour and originates from Guria, the western part of Georgia. You can also add sulguni to Ghomi to enrich the taste or pour Satsivi juice on top.
Kubdari-meat pie is a Svan, traditional dish. It belongs to the baked goods and contains pork, lamb, or goat meat, with various aromatic spices (such as cumin, coriander, parsley, and dill) and onion. Kubdari should be served hot. After baking the butter is glazed at the surface of Kubdari.
Jonjoli, an appetizer made from pickled sprouts is very popular in Georgian cuisine. Oil and onion can be added to it. Jonjoli goes well with beans, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and garlic. In Kakheti, Jonjoli is consumed with sunflower oil and chopped onion. In Imereti, it is common to add walnuts to Jonjoli - chopped, crushed jonjoli is flavored with pounded walnuts, dried spices, and fresh coriander.
Chakapuli is light and juicy dish compared to Kharcho. It is traditionally made from mutton, tarragon, tkemali, dry white wine, herbs (parsley, mint, dill, coriander), garlic, and salt. The meat is boiled in the oven in white wine. Afterward, the lamb is mixed in the tkemali sauce. Due to the specific smell, chakapuli may not be for everyone, but it is considered to be a must-try Georgian dish, which you can taste in any Georgian restaurant.
There is no doubt, that soups are very popular in Georgia: with meat, vegetarian and dairy. Kharcho, Khashi, and Chikhirtma are considered to be the three most popular soups. Shechamandi is a good example of a vegetarian soup - flour soup, without vegetables, with matsoni, nuts, sour fruits, and herbs.
And finally - Churchkhela. Churchkhela is often called Georgian "sneakers". It is a Georgian sweet. Pieces of walnuts or hazelnuts are wrapped in pelamushi or tatara (a sweet porridge made from grape juice). It is mainly served on Tbilisoba and New Year holidays. The walnuts put on the thread are dipped in pelamushi, hung on a pole to dry and Churchkhela is ready. It is the most delicious, must-try snack.
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