Georgian food is arguably one of the world’s most underestimated cuisines, with a mix of influences from Central Asia, the Mediterranean, Persia, and Turkey. Often perceived as meat-heavy meals, Georgian cuisine surprises vegetarians with a variety of elaborated non-meat options.
Together with warm and gooey comfort foods, light appetizers, modest sweets, savory and chili sauces, and wines made with centuries-old traditions, a hearty Georgian feast awaits you here!
Traditional Georgian Dishes
Khinkali – Georgian dumplings
Elegantly twisted knobs of dough, khinkali is the Georgian version of the meat dumpling that was first introduced by Mongolian invaders in the 13th century. Unlike the steamed Central Asian dumplings, khinkali is boiled and is rich in meat broth trapped in the dough.
The original recipe of khinkali comes from the mountainous regions of Georgia. It differs from the so-called “kalakuri” (city version), which adds fresh herbs when flavoring the meat (mixture of minced pork and beef) in addition to onions, salt, cumin, and pepper. Other variations use mushroom, cheese, potato or spinach as fillings.
Where else is better to learn khinkali-making if not right in the mountainous area where it originated? Join us and have fun making khinkali with the local family’s secret recipe! All included in your Karavanly pass.
The trick to conquer khinkali is to pick it up by the tip of the knob (not to be eaten) with hands (or a fork now) and eat it without spilling a single drop of broth on the plate, by taking small bites, while holding it upside down, and slurping the broth as you go.
Pkhali – veggie pâté
Pkhali is a general term referring to a plant and vegetable-based appetizers flavored with walnut paste. The most common plants and vegetables used are spinach, beetroot leaves, bell peppers, and cabbage. The walnut paste is seasoned with vinegar, spices, onions, and garlic.
Vegetables are either boiled, sauteed, or steamed. As for the serving, spinach and beetroot pkhali are mixed with the paste, rolled into small balls, and topped with pomegranate sauce, while bulkier vegetables are wrapped with the paste inside.
Pkhali is an essential appetizer of Georgian supra and pairs perfectly with tone bread (baked in a traditional clay oven) or mchadi (a cornbread).
Badrijani Nigvzit – eggplants in walnut paste
A vegetarian favorite and top appetizer for both locals and foreigners. The paste made from walnuts, coriander, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper, is spread on roasted or fried eggplant (badrijani in Georgian) strips, served folded or rolled and topped with pomegranate seeds.
Soko Ketsze – cheese-stuffed mushrooms in a clay pot
A Georgian specialty call for champignon mushrooms, butter, pepper, and local mozzarella-like Sulguni cheese, baked in ketsi – a unique clay pot which adds a distinctive, smoky flavor to the meal, while mushrooms are softer, juicier, and cheese is well melted. Best to be enjoyed hot, while the cheese is still stretchy.
Khachapuri – a pizza-like cheese pie
No visit to Georgia is possible without trying the second most loved Georgian meal – khachapuri. This warm, gooey cheese-stuffed pie that drips and oozes with heart-stopping goodness comes in different forms and recipes typical for each region of Georgia.
The most common and widespread is the Imeretian type that comes from Imereti, a region of western Georgia. This modest and round-shaped pie calls for Imeretian cheese, a bit saltier than Sulguni, gluey and chewy that perfectly goes with a variety of Georgian dishes.
Adjaruli Khachapuri – the famous cheese boat
Originally from the Adjara region of Georgia nestled at the shores of the Black Sea, Adjarian Khachapuri is arguably the most iconic and well-known style of khachapuri.
Typically baked in a brick oven, the dish is topped with a knob of butter and a raw egg before serving. Like khinkali, Adjaruli khachapuri has its way of eating: first mix the cheese, raw egg, and butter well together; then break the crusty ends and sides to dip in the stretchy mixture.
Ojakhuri – fried potatoes and meat
Translated as “family meal,” ojakhuri is a simple and easy meal made from pork meat and potatoes fried in ketsi or ordinary pan seasoned with onions, salt, and pepper. The meat and potatoes are halfway cooked separately before adding them together in the same pot to finish cooking. The result is a soft and flavorful dish topped with sauteed onions and fresh herbs.
Shkmeruli – chicken in creamy garlic sauce
This flavorful, crispy roasted chicken dish paired with creamy garlic sauce is another staple of Georgian cuisine. It comes from Shkmeri village in Racha, a highland region in western Georgia enclosed by the Greater Caucasus mountains.
What makes this yet another simple meal with only a few ingredients so special is the combination of garlic and milk as a sauce poured over halfway fried chicken to finish cooking in ketsi.
Kuchmachi – meals from pork/chicken internal organs
Kuchmachi is probably one of the most unusual meals to try in Georgia. Mainly made from pork or chicken livers, gizzards, and hearts, seasoned with walnuts, onions, garlic, saffron, coriander, salt, pepper, and garnished with pomegranate seeds.
An adventurous palate is always encouraged during travel. This dish is a lot more welcoming than you thought once you get over your psychological barrier!
Cheese is an essential part of any Georgian feast and one of the most regularly eaten foods all across the country. Note that local cheese is entirely different than what you might be used to. However, once you get accustomed to it, you will most likely learn to love the unique taste of various Georgian cheeses.
Sulguni has a mozzarella-like texture, but saltier than its Italian equivalent. This semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk is one of the most famous kinds Georgia has to offer. The cheese is typically eaten plain or accompanying mchadi (a cornbread) and fresh tone bread (baked in a traditional clay oven).
Imeruli cheese might lack the flavor that Sulguni has, but it’s a flexible addition to many Georgian meals. The cheese has distinctive bubbles on the surface; it is chewy and goes well with salads, mchadi, pkhali assorts, tone bread, and lobio (black bean stew).
Guda is a hard, much saltier Georgian cheese made from goat’s milk originated in the mountainous region of Tusheti, which is known for the abundance of sheep. It has a pungent smell and a very distinctive taste that not every Georgian loves. However, it goes perfectly with a simple cucumber and tomato salad and fresh-baked hot tone bread.
Discover the unique traditional technique of Tenili cheese-making with us along your Karavanly ride! You’ll also have a chance to play with making this Meskhetian delicacy yourself – an experience that you’d never find anywhere else!
Jonjoli – pickled capers
Jonjoli is an appetizer made with pickled sprouts from a Georgian native shrub of the same name, most commonly seasoned with salt, oil, and onions. It goes well with boiled potatoes and lobio (black bean stew), and is sometimes served along with other pickled vegetables such as cucumber, tomatoes, and garlic.
Tkemali – sour plum sauce
Typical sauce primarily made of Tkemali plum is like ketchup for many Georgians. There are red and green varieties with different flavors. However, it generally tends to be sour and is seasoned with coriander, chili pepper, garlic, dill, pennyroyal, and salt. Tkemali is a perfect sauce for any type of fried potatoes, grilled meat, and vegetables.
All Karavanly travel passes include traditional lunches at local families, for you to experience the abundance of Georgian feast and hospitality.
Don’t miss out the opportunity of getting to know local communities and savoring traditional home recipes in different regions as you travel all around the country with us!
Traditional Georgian Sweets
Churchkhela – Georgian “Snickers”
Nicknamed Georgian Snickers, Churchkhela is a favorite local snack made from grape juice and nuts. This candle-shaped goodie is sweet, chewy, and quite filling. The nuts, usually walnuts and hazelnuts, are first stringed on a thread and then dipped into a mixture of grape juice and flour. It is then hanged to dry for several weeks before consumption.
Tklapi – puréed fruit roll-up
Tklapi is a traditional puréed fruit roll-up leather that can be sweet or sour. The most common tklapi is made from different plums resulting in a bitter taste, while peaches, apricots, and more candied plums are used for sweeter versions.
Pelamushi – grape juice pudding
A pudding-like Georgian dessert made from pressed and condensed grape juice. The juice is boiled together with flour to help it thicken without adding additional sugar. The result is a soft and sweet dessert topped with walnuts and served cold.
Dip into the sweet secrets and create your own at a family producer of traditional Georgian sweets – a complimentary visit with your Karavanly pass!
Georgian Alcoholic Drinks
Georgia is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, wine-making countries in the world, with over 8,000 years of wine production history. What makes traditional Georgian wines special is that they are fermented and stored in kvevri, an egg-shaped clay jar, which is buried underground, resulting in the distinct and world-famous amber-colored wine.
Georgia’s diverse landscape contributes to various unique vine varieties, which is a lot more than just the most widely-known ones from Kakheti. Join us to uncork the less-explored wine regions to get a full taste of what Georgian wine is truly about.
You’ll also have a chance to learn about the millennia-old Georgian craft of kvevri-making from the renowned master. All included in your Karavanly travel pass!
Chacha, a Georgian relative of Greek Grappa, is a grape pomace spirit. This traditional home-brew drink is quite strong, ranging between 40-65% alcohol. The name chacha comes from a Georgian word for grape distillate.
Besides typical chacha, you can find fruit and herb drinks mainly made from figs, oranges tangerines, tarragon, and mulberries.
Georgian brandy scene is relatively small and consists only of several companies making this high-alcoholic beverage. The most famous one is the Sarajishvili company established in 1884, making it the oldest wine brandy manufacturers in the country. Its founder was a pioneer to bring standard French cognac technology to Georgia and start producing the beverage. Most of their drinks are smooth and easy to drink.
Similar to brandy, Georgian spirits are slowly emerging on the market. There are a couple of wine or chacha companies that produce various spirits made from honey, quince, melon, and mulberry.
When it comes to gin, Georgia has only one – Shkhivana Gin by the Fredericus Secundus brand. It uses a juniper plant grown in Shkhivana village of Racha, hence the name. Gin dry with a taste of juniper, pepper, grapefruit, and citrus.