Situated at the crossroads of East and West, Georgia has fallen within the orbit of many cultural influences and empires. One of the earliest Christian civilizations, Georgia has endured its share of invasions, and Georgian food is well reflective of its past. 

In the times of peace, as merchants carried goods and spices along the Great Silk Road, Georgians embraced new seasonings and methods and adopted and incorporated foreign ingredients and styles into their own. 

Throughout the centuries, Georgian cuisine has been influenced by the Mediterranean world, Arab and Mongol flavors, Persian and Ottoman kitchens, the link stretching as far as Northern India. 

Today, the cuisine of Georgia is a rich interplay between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern tastes. Georgian food and wine culture are best observed through Supra – a traditional feast featuring a wide assortment of dishes accompanied by large amounts of wine that typically lasts several hours.

1. Khinkali

khinkali georgian dish

Khinkali
Photo Source: afar.com

Khinkali is a staple of Georgian cuisine and a popular dish among locals and foreigners. It is a dumpling made with a variety of fillings. In the mountains, Khinkali used to be made with a lamb; you can still find the original lamb Khinkali there, but it’s rare elsewhere in the country. The most common filling is the mixture of minced beef and pork. The origins of Khinkali can’t precisely be traced; some accounts point to Mongol influence, and others claim Khinkali to be an indigenous product of Georgia’s primordial mountain culture.

2. Khachapuri

khachapuri georgian dish

Khachapuri
Photo Credit: Max Falkowitz

No Georgian feast is ever complete without Khachapuri. According to many, it is the Georgian classic, cheese bread par excellence. Its form, as well as texture, vary from region to region: it can have a thin or thick crust, it can contain single or many layers, it can be round, triangle, or rectangle form of all sizes, and even come boat-shaped with an egg in the middle (Adjaruli Khachapuri famous in the Black Sea region).

3. Mtsvadi

mtsvadi-georgian-dish

Mtsvadi
Photo Source: Courtesy of Georgian National Tourism Administration

A Skewer of meat, veal or pork, is a symbol of true celebration à la géorgienne. While the choice of meat varies from region to region and according to seasons, the grilling method is more or less the same throughout. Out-of-age grapevine is the best choice of wood used to make this Georgian food. Once grilled, meat cubes are removed from skewers and shaken in a pot of thinly sliced onions and pomegranate juice. Sizzling meat slightly caramelizes the onions, while pomegranate juice forms a mild, acidy sauce with the meat juices.

4. Georgian Cheese Plate: Sulguni, Smoked Sulguni, Guda

georgian cheese

Georgian Cheese Plate
Photo Source: delivery24.ge

Georgians rely heavily on their cheese, and each region makes its variety. Sulguni, a specialty of western Georgia, is perhaps the most admired semi-soft Georgian cheese, often dubbed saltier Mozzarella. Guda is a pungent mountain cheese from Tusheti, traditionally made with sheep’s milk and aged in sheepskin.

5. Mixed Mushroom Stew in clay pot

soko ketsze Georgian dish

Mushroom Stew in a clay pot
Photo Credit: Karl Warner

The cuisine of Georgia features a wide range of slow-cooked meat stews, such as Kharcho or Chaqapuli (see below). While meat remains a prime ingredient, some vegetarian versions are also popular Georgian food, especially during the lent. The primary mushroom type is the Khis Soko, or the Oyster mushrooms, cultivated on tree trunks. It has a strong flavor, wet woodland tones, and firm texture, resistant to slow cooking.

Another famous Georgian dish is champignon mushrooms, which come in a clay pot. If you eat cheese, order the one with cheese slices stuffed in them. Otherwise, plain is also quite delicious as the clay pot gives it a unique aroma.

6. Kharcho with Gomi

kharcho Georgian dish

Kharcho
Photo Credit: polzavred.ru

Kharcho is a slow-cooked thick meat stew with tomatoes, spices, and aromatic herbs. Its distinctive taste comes from Khmeli Suneli – a marigold-rich Georgian counterpart of the Indian curry blend. 

Ghomi is a staple Georgian food from the Samegrelo region, an area breeding ground for some of the most savory and elaborate dishes, including above mentioned Kharcho.

For centuries Megrels made Ghomi with a Ghomi millet – an indigenous crop to be subsequently replaced with corn flour and millet. 

Put slices of cheese in Ghomi and let them slightly melt inside. Then dip it into Kharcho stew.

7. Chaqapuli

chakaphuli Georgian dish

Chaqapuli
Photo Source: worldsport.ge

Compared to Kharcho, Chaqapuli is light and liquid stew, redolent of springtime herbs and intense with flavors of white wine and fresh Tkemali fruit (savory green plum). Although Chaqapuli echoes some similar dishes of neighboring Iran, such as Ghormeh Sabzi, this springtime stew, for many admirers, captures the essential taste of Georgia. It is also a primary Georgian food prepared for Easter.

8. Assorted Pkhali

phkhali Georgian dish

Assorted Pkhali
Photo Source: maxline.ge

Pkhali is a cold vegetarian appetizer. A mélange of spice-rich walnut paste, fresh herbs, and vinegar is added to vegetables – fried, sauteed, or boiled. The main vegetables and leafy greens used to create this Georgian food are eggplants, spinach, cabbage, bell pepper, and beetroot leaves. Pkhali is often garnished with pomegranate seeds, which enhances the mild acidity with a sour, fruity finish.

9. Assorted Georgian pickles: Jonjoli, Peppers

jonjoli

 Jonjoli
Photo Source: georgianjournal.ge

Georgians enjoy a wide variety of pickled vegetables, such as cucumber or courgette, ripe or unripe tomatoes, and even leeks and garlic cloves. While these vegetable pickles are somewhat spread worldwide, Georgia has a very distinguished pickle that is an absolute favorite of many locals and foreigners. 

Jonjoli, somewhat similar to the capers, is a flower pickle of the medium-sized bush with long-stemmed flowers. They are harvested in May before they blossom and pickled right away. Jonjoli is seasoned with oil, a splash of vinegar, salt, and slices of onion just before serving.

10.  Nadughi Cornets

nadughi Georgian dish

Ricotta Cornets
Photo Source: wikimedia.org

These rolls provide an excellent example of how Georgians mix several dairy products together to create a tasty snack. Nadughi, ricotta-like cheese seasoned with fresh or dry mint, is rolled into Sulghuni cheese paper to make them mildly salty, aromatic mint-mingled cornets.