Situated at the crossroads of East and West, Georgian cousine is widely known for exquisite culinary masterpieces, colorful diversity, advanced cooking techniques and traditional table layouts. Due to the fact that Georgia once was one of the countries on the Silk Road, often receiving foreign travelers, it has been strongly influenced by culinary traditions of Transcaucasia, Asia and the Black Sea coast. The western part of Georgia absorbed elements of Turkish cuisine, whereas Iranian prevalence is evident in the west.
One of the most important parts of Georgian social culture is considered "Supra", which means "table-cloth". Supra is usually associated with feasts where a large table is ordinarily set and courses of food and drinks appear: bread with spreads, roasted meats, khachapuri, vegetables, herb salads, sweets—until the table is piled high with plates. However, Supra is more than simply a feast, it cultivates intimacy, deep connections, love and appreciation of family and friends. The traditions of supra, as an important part of Georgian social culture, were inscribed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia list in 2017
An essential ritual at the Supra is having Tamada (Toastmaster)- who leads the feast and introduces each toast with originality, intelligence and humor. If there are many guests at the table, Tamada appoints assistants who in Georgian are called Tolumbashis.
Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary traditions with variations such as Megrelian, Adjarian, Kakhetian, Svan, Imeretian cuisines. The most “delicious” regions of western Georgia are considered to be Adjara and Samegrelo. Rich with meat and fish dishes, Georgian cuisine also offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, cooked as a side dish for meat and fish or separately. Most Georgian dishes are usually mixed with walnuts, aromatic herbs, garlic, vinegar, various sorts of cheese, pickles, red pepper, pomegranate grains, barberries and other spices, that make Georgian cuisine very popular and unique.
Here are some of the most popular National dishes associated with particular regions of Georgia:
Kartli is rich in fruits: apples, figs, apricots, peaches and vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.
Local popular dishes include:
Shechamandi- light and healthy soup made of dogwood or docks
Chakhrakina- rare variety of khachapuri filled with beetroot leaves, spinach, cheese and fresh, light, tasty sour cream
Khabizgina- this Ossetian Khachapuri originates from Tskhinvali Region (South Osetia), Georgia. It is stuffed with mashed potatoes and two types of cheese. Baked Khabizgina is served with greased boiled butter on top.
Puris Kharcho- a typical Georgian bread soup with hard bread cut into small pieces, boiled with finely chopped onions and butter, seasoned with eggs, salt, turmeric and pinch of red peppers. Garnish with some fresh herbs, such as conriander or dill.
Jonjoli- an unusual Georgian appetizer made with pickled sprouts from local jonjoli bushes. The sprouts are combined with olive oil or other pickled vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers. The dish is usually garnished with onion rings and finely chopped coriander.
Kakhetian cuisine is mostly meat-based. The region is known as premier wine-producing area and the birth-place of Tonis Puri-a certain type of Georgian bread, baked in a specific oven called a tone or torne.
Notable dishes from Kakheti are:
Mtsvadi- traditional Georgian barbeque that represents grilled meat pork, mutton or veal cut in medium cubes, marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, pomegranate juice, sliced tomatoes, tarragon, spices, salt, pepper and chopped onions, so that it remains tender and juicy when grilled. Mtsvadi is exceptionally delicious when grilled outdoors. It is recommended to serve the dish with tkemali plum sauce, raw onion rings, and pomegranate seeds.
Chikhirtma- a flavorful, hearty chicken and broth soup with eggs, vinegar, lemon, spices and greens. The soup has slightly sour taste and a cream-like consistency.
Chakapuli- a popular Georgian stew made from lamb chops, veal, beef or mushrooms, combined with tarragon leaves, cherry plums or tkemali (cherry plum sauce), dry white wine, mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill, coriander), onions, garlic and salt. The dish is especially popular in the Spring when the plums are unripe.
Khashlama- a boiled beef dish from eastern Kakheti region. In the eastern mountain regions of Georgia (e.g. Tusheti) Khashlama is made with lamb.
Chanakhi- a hearty lamb stew with vegetables and herbs, that’s traditionally cooked and served in small clay pots called chanakhi, which is how the dish got its name.
Khashi- considered to be an excellent hangover cure and a great remedy, Khashi is a dense soup made from boiling beef intestines, shank, tripe, kidneys mixed with carrots, onions, bell peppers, and various greens.
Ajapsandali- a Georgian ratatouille dish made with eggplant, potatoes, tomato, seasoning and bell pepper.
Kakheti is also known for delicious desserts such as:
Churchkhela- candle-shaped candy made of grape juice and walnuts, sometimes even called “Georgian Snickers.”
Pelamushi- sweet porridge made in autumn at the vintage time with flour and pressed, condensed grape juice.
Kakheti wines- local wines are famous not only in Georgia, but in Europe as well: Alazani, Saperavi, Akhasheni and Kindzmarauli.
The cuisine of Imereti is known for excessive use of walnuts and variety of cheeses such as Imeruli Kveli and Chkinti Kveli.
Most famous Imeretian dishes include:
Imeruli Khachapuri- an integral part of Georgian cuisine. The pie is filled with cheese, eggs, potatoes and other ingredients. Each region has its own version of khachapuri that can be distinguished by the shape or the ingredients used.
Pkhali also called mkhali- a vegetarian dish made of chopped and minced vegetables: spinach, eggplant, nettles, cabbage, beans, beets mixed with ground walnuts, onions, garlic, vinegar and herbs. The common ingredient of pkhali is pureed walnut sauce.
Lobio- this hearty bean stew is prepared of various kinds of beans (cooked or stewed), containing walnuts, garlic, onion, coriander
Mchadi- a traditional cornbread usually served with lobio and cheese
Badrijani Nigvzit- fried eggplant rolls filled with walnut
Kupati- a type of Georgian sausage with spicy flavor, made out of meat sub-products: beef, pork or even pig's organs and combined with onion, pepper, intestines or chitterlings.
Kuchmachi- a traditional Georgian dish made of kidneys, livers, lungs, spleens and hearts of chickens, pigs, or beef, cooked with butter, garlic, onions, and seasonings such as bay leaves, salt, black pepper, coriander and walnuts for extra flavor. The dish is usually served hot and garnished with pomegranate seeds on top.
Soko Kecze- mushrooms baked and served in a special ketsi dish clay pot. The mushrooms are either plain or filled with butter and Georgian sulguni cheese, seasoned with black pepper, and sometimes with a bit of garlic. It is best enjoyed hot, while the cheese is still gooey and stretchy.
Chakhokhbili- Georgian dish originally made with pheasant, but now with stewed chicken, simmered in a fragrant tomato-based sauce with fresh herbs.
Satsivi- traditional Christmas and New Year's dish. A thick sauce called Bazhe made of walnuts, stock, garlic and onions, flavoured with loads of herbs and spices such as cinnamon, blue fenugreek, marigold, coriander and smothered over turkey, chicken, fish or eggplant.
Tsitsila Isrim-Maqvalshi- a roasted chicken in a blackberry and grape based sauce
Ekala- a type of plant spinach cooked with walnuts, garlic, onion, red pepper mixed with wine vinegar, blue fenugreek, coriander and salt
Mtsnili- pickled vegetables such as cabbage, cucumbers, beets and jonjoli
The cuisine of Guria is close to Imereti cuisine, as it’s mostly based on poultry, corn-bread and on walnuts.
The most popular dishes from Guria are:
Gurian Khachapuri- a crescent-shaped pie filled with cheese and hard boiled egg, usually eaten on Christmas day
Brinjula- the jelly cake with cheese and eggs, baked in ketsi clay pans
Iafofkha- baked mass of soya flour, chopped nuts and mixed eggs
Kvirkvali beans- beans with various spices, that give unique flavors
The regional cuisine of Mingrelia is most famous for wide variety of spices, walnuts, cheese Sulguni and Ajika-a Georgian-Abkhazian hot, spicy, but subtly flavored sauce made of pepper and spices.
Famous Mingrelian dishes include:
Mingrelian Khachapuri- a Georgian khachapuri variety originating from Samegrelo, topped with more cheese than Imeretian khachapuri
Elarji- a popular dish made from coarse cornmeal, cornflour and stretchy Sulguni cheese
Ghomi with Sulguni - variation of Ghomi consisting of coarse and fine corn flour combined with water and topped with crumbled sulguni cheese mixed with mint leaves.
Chicken tabaka- a small bird (usually a poussin) chicken is spatchcocked and fried in clarified butter on a special pan with a lid
Kharcho- a hearty beef soup in tomato broth with a wonderful blend of rice, cherry plum purée, chopped walnuts, spices and plenty of fresh herbs. The soup is usually served with finely chopped fresh coriander.
Adjarian cuisine is rich in milk products and cheese dishes, influenced both by its natural environment (seaside, mountainous part) and history. In the mountainous Adjara dairy products are most popular and dishes are mostly heavy, whereas in the seaside Adjara meals are mostly spiced and used with fresh herbs.
The most popular dishes in Adjara to be noted:
Adjarian Khachapuri- a boat-shaped pie topped with cheese, butter and egg yolk in the middle. This kind of Khachapuri is not only unique and beautiful, but also symbolic of boat, sea and sun.
Achma- one of the famous interpretations of khachapuri, often compared to lasagna for its texture and appearance. Consists of few layers tender dough, a crispy top, and lots of cheese with butter in between.
Borano often called Georgian fondue- one of the most delicious and simple dishes of Adjarian cuisine. There are two versions of Borano: one is served in the form of melted, stretched cheese in butter, while the second version is prepared with cheese and eggs.
Sinori- very rich Adjarian dish prepared by using lavash combined with Georgian cottage cheese and butter.
Iakhni- calorie-rich Adjarian dish, prepared from beef brisket, nuts and spices.
Kaurma- a special dish made from high quality meat and kept in jars.
Chirbuli- a widespread Adjarian dish and popular breakfast meal, in which eggs are scrambled with vegetables and walnuts in a peculiar sauce.
Kaimagi- cream filled dish with crumbled cheese characteristic of high mountainous villages mostly.
Malakhto- an Adjarian bean dish prepared with fresh beans, that are boiled and combined with various nuts, spices and served with a special sauce called Isrimi-green grape juice.
Barabuli- officially known as Mullus barbatus. Barabuli is a crispy, salty and tender red mullet-a species of small fish native to the Black Sea, that is served with lemon juice.
Pakhlava with walnuts- a staple of Turkish cuisine also known as baklava. It is rich, sweet pastry made of layers of thin unleavened dough-filo, filled with chopped nuts, sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.
Shaqarlama- bisquits made of flour, sugar, butter and honey.
Adjarian Wine- Keda district is considered to be the historical center of winemaking in Adjara. The most popular types of local wines Tsolikauri (White wine) and Chkhaveri (Rose wine) are widely known and exported throughout Georgia.
Three famous Adjarian wines are:
Porto-Franco Chkhaveri Rosé 2010- a reddish orange color with an aroma of red raspberries
Tsolikouri 2010- fermented with chacha-pomace in qvevri. A golden colored wine with floral and dried yellow fruit notes throughout the tasting
Rkatsiteli Tsolikouri 2012- fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. The wine taste offers peach notes and hints of floral.
The cuisine of Samtskhe-Javakheti comprises two regional cuisines: Meskhetian and Javakhetian.
Famous dishes from Samtskhe-Javakheti to be mentioned:
Meskhuri Khinkali- dumplings filled with goose meat
Batis Shechamandi- Meskhetian soup made of goose meat
Rdzis Korkoti- wheat grains boiled in milk
Apokhti- dried meat of lamb, beef, goose and duck
Tatarboragi- boiled dough
Snails or Lokokina- Samtskhe-Javakheti is the only place in Georgia where snails are seen as a common dish
Samtskhe-Javakheti is also known for delicious desserts such as:
Chiri- any kind of dried fruit, but most commonly plums, apples, figs, or persimmons.
Tklapi- puréed fruit roll-up leather
Tenili- a preserved, hand-pulled cheese produced from cow's or sheep's milk
Svaneti cuisine is famous for Svanetian Salt, local alcohol made from fruits such as elderberry, and even for honey.
The main dishes from Svaneti region include:
Svanetian Salt- a spiced salt that has unique fragrance and taste. It is traditionally used as a flavoring for meat, fish, potato and soup dishes, as well as instead of table salt. The salt mixture is handmade from 8 ingredients: Salt, yellow flower (aka Imeretian saffron), dried coriander seeds, blue fenugreek, marigold, garlic, red pepper and gitsruli-wild caraway seed growing exclusively in Svaneti.
Kubdari also called kuptaari- a spiced meat pie made from small bite-sized chunks of beef or pork or both, considered as a national dish of the Svans
Chvishtari also called chishdvaar- cornbread with fresh, lightly salted cheese
Tashmijabi otherwise called Svanetian Elarji- brined cheese infused mashed potato puree
Kharshil- a soup of barley and urtica
P'etvraal- Svanetian variety of khachapuri served with egg yolk, butter and melting cheese, with millet flour added to the cheese filling.
Lutspeq- boiled barley grains seasoned with pepper and garlic
MTIANETI, KHEVI, KHEVSURETI, PSHAVI AND TUSHETI REGIONS:
The cuisine in these high mountain areas are quite similar. Famous dishes include:
Khinkali- Georgian dumplings made from twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat, potatoes, cottage cheese and spices. Khinkali was originated in the Georgian mountain regions of Pshavi, Tusheti, Mtiuleti and Khevsureti.
Gordila- boiled dough
Kotori- Tushetian khachapuri, made from very thin dough filled with cottage cheese and boiled butter.
Qaghi- dried and salted meat
Khachoerbo- the mixture of dried cottage cheese and ghee in a ball shape
Khavitsi sometimes called Datkhuri- a dish made from coarsely ground corn flour and boiled butter
Guda- a goat/sheep based cheese produced in Tusheti. Has mild, soft, almost sweet taste and texture. These regions are also well known for their beer and alcohol called Zhipitauri-tastes like vodka but is more lethal.