In a sense, it’s hard going to Georgia. You will be faced with options and you will not know how to respond. Would you like megruli, imeruli, acharuli today? Khinkhali? And how many? If you think that it’s easy, well…
I know several people that were in Georgia before we went there, and they were all telling me how amazing the food is (among other things). I remember listening about some boat-shaped bread and something with walnuts, but not having a slightest idea if I would actually like it or not. It was all a bit too good to be true.
I must say from the very beginning, there is a huge difference between dining in a restaurant and having a dinner in a Georgian house, with Georgian host. Why? Because, the Georgian host will bring all the food they made on the table, and if by any change you eat all of that, they will go and make more. Going to the store to buy extra ingredients just for you to have enough to eat. I can’t stress how much I love Georgian hospitality and how impressed I am by it to this day.
Sure, you can eat pizza when you go to Georgia, but would you really want to when you have khachapuri? The answer is an obvious no.
The word actually means cheese bread, and there are several different ways of making it, but the end result is always the same – amazing. Georgians use few different cheeses to make khachapuri, and different regions have different way of making this traditional dish. To make it simple, there is imeruli, megruli and acharuli khachapuri.
Imeruli (Imeretian) khachapuri comes from Imereti region of Georgia, and it is basically flat bread with cheese filling.
Megruli (Megrelian) khachapuri comes from Samegrelo region, and it looks like imeruli, only a bit thicker and with cheese on top as well as inside.
Acharuli (Ajaran) khachapuri has the most unique look, as it is shaped like a boat, and, as a bonus, has an egg on the top of the cheese.
Drooling yet? I know I am… It’s the best Georgian comfort food I tried!
This dish is prepared in a clay pot with various vegetables, mushrooms, onion and diced meat, usually pork, but it can be lamb, beef and chicken. We tried several versions and it was ALWAYS GREAT. The portion is on a small size at most places, but definitely worth the try (especially because you can NEVER order only one dish).
In Svaneti region, you have this amazing khachapuri-looking meat bomb. It is bread filled with (traditionally) ground beef, and I honestly feel my mouth watering while thinking about it. After a hike and long road to Svaneti, lobiani for dinner was the perfect way to end already perfect day.
Another traditional Georgian food, with several different fillings. It’s basically dough, filled with some meat, mushrooms, or vegetables. Whatever the filling is, it is cooked in the soup that you fill the khinkhali with and you eat it by biting it first and sucking out the soup.
The number of khinkhalis someone can eat is a matter of personal pride for Georgian people. Everyone has some crazy story about how someone they know was competing with someone else and ate x number of khinkhali. My record? 6. The highest number I heard that was eaten by a single person? 56. Do I believe the story? Maybe, I’ve seen how Georgian people drink, I believe they can eat just as much.
BRINGING GEORGIA TO YOUR KITCHEN
When you go to Georgia, and you try khachapuri, there is no going back. You will crave khachapuri for the rest of your life, every single time you are even vaguely remember something from your trip.
So, why not make it at home?! I did just that, by making one huge acharuli khachapuri and one smaller but still huge imeruli khachapuri at home. It was my first time making it, but both Agata and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very easy to make, so if you want to challenge yourself, there are many recipes online!
There are many, many, many other things to try while in Georgia, but these are in my opinion the must have. What I need to point out is that Georgians REALLY like using coriander in their cooking, so probably every single thing you can try will have coriander in it (for better or for worst).
While you do have some “western” fast food options, like McDonald’s, KFC and Dunkin Donuts, they are often more expensive and usually not as filling as Georgian food. If you don’t want to go to the restaurants, and you want to make yourself sandwiches and survive on them, I would suggest you buy traditional Georgian bread, that is hands down the tastiest bread I ever tied.
This was a difficult post to write. I will now go to think sweet thoughts about lobiani and megruli…