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Georgian Food

As I have tasted quite a few Georgian specialities during my two-week-long stay in Georgia, I would like to present the most important aspects of the (excellent) Georgian cuisine.

First, though, I have to stress that meat does play an important role in lots of Georgian dishes. As I do not eat any meat, I cannot talk about this part of the Georgian cuisine. Still, also vegetarians will get their fill in Georgia.

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Melanzani mit Walnuss-Knoblauch-Paste
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Among the starters, there is an especially large variety of vegetarian dishes: Aside from the ever-present tomato cucumber salad, there are fried eggplants with a walnut-garlic paste (my personal favourite), and all kinds of other vegetable pastes and salads (depending on the season). Quite a lot of these dishes (not only the eggplants) are garnished with walnuts – this is obviously one of the main ingredients of Georgian cuisine.

It is quite common among Georgians to go out for dinner in larger groups. Then, a large variety of dishes is ordered, and everyone can sample a bit from everything. For a single traveller, this is not that easy, of course. Still, in guesthouses even a single traveller can enjoy such luxury. If you order breakfast and/or dinner there, you typically also get a large selection of dishes. The quality seems to increase with the remoteness of the location. Maybe, the Georgian hospitality comes into play here: The Georgians want to show how much they can offer even in remote areas.

But back to the Georgian food as such: Another important part of every meal is bread and cheese. There is even a (delicious, even though a bit dry and "squeaky") sheep’s cheese called Guda (as I learned on the last day). More common, however, are Sulguni and Imertian cheese (both made from cow’s milk).

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Khachapuri Acharuli
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

As far as the bread is concerned, there is not only plain flatbread. It is also served in combination with (melted) cheese as Khachapuri. Such a Khachapuri is often similar in size and texture to an American Pizza, just without the tomato sauce. It does have cheese on top and/or baked into the dough, though. There is even a special (high-calorie) variant, the Khachapuri Acharuli, with a runny egg and melted butter on top. However, I did not try this artery-clogging beast of a bread.

Alternatively, there is also Lobiani (bread filled with a bean paste) which was more to my liking. However, there are different kinds of Lobiani: from a fluffy, delicious dough (just like Khachapuris) to a rather dry flatbread.

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Lobio Kotanshi
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Speaking of beans: These are another important ingredient in some Georgian dishes. They do not only come in bread and in salad, but also in a clay pot as Lobio Kotanshi. This is often eaten in combination with Mchadi (corn bread) or Chvishtari (corn bread with cheese baked into the dough), and possibly some pickles. This dish was another one of my favourites.

So, finally we have arrived at the main courses. As already mentioned before, these are rather meat-heavy. Grilled meat (or fish) is available in all varieties, mostly in combination with potatoes fried in (a lot of) oil. Two of the most common ways of preparation are Mtsvadi (meat on a skewer) and Ojakhuri (pork and potatoes fried in a pan). The latter also exists in a vegetarian version (with mushrooms instead of the pork). Mostly, it can be found on the "Fasting Menu" that is designed for particularly religious Georgians (who tend to eat no meat on Fridays, and possibly Wednesdays). At the same time, it makes life much easier for vegetarians.

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Khinkali
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Another Georgian speciality are Khinkali (dumplings). Most often, Khinkali are filled with meat. Sometimes it is also possible to get them with mushrooms, potatoes or cheese. If you are really lucky, you can even get a mushroom-vegetable filling (which I only came across in Tbilisi, unfortunately).

Finally, almost all Georgian dishes have one thing in common: lots of coriander. As some people seem to dislike this condiment, they shall be warned: The Georgian cuisine is probably not for them.


The title image of this entry is from Wikimedia Commons (picture by Gorod – SKY, license: CreativeCommons by-2.0).

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