Georgian food is arguably one of the world’s most underrated cuisines, featuring flavors from Greece and the Mediterranean, as well as influences from Turkey and Persia. This Georgian food guide is drawn from experiences traveling across the country — visits to local markets, meals in family homes and restaurants, and even an impromptu cooking course. It offers an extensive list of traditional Georgian dishes as well as tips on what to eat and drink when you visit.
Georgian food is quite appropriately an expression of the culture. Warm, gooey comfort food like khachapuri (cheese-stuffed bread) finds balance with matsoni (yogurt). Herbs like tarragon, flat parsley, dill and coriander combine with walnuts and garlic for rich fillings and sauces.
Eating, toasts and the supra bind family and friends and snare visitors into long, table-bound interludes. Georgian food and hospitality surrounds you…and can sometimes suffocate you under its weight.
We developed a deep appreciation for Georgian food during our travels there, particularly due to helpful friends and host families who enjoyed providing us a quick and tasty education in Georgian cuisine and dishes..
We developed a deep appreciation for Georgian food during our travels there, particularly due to helpful friends and host families who enjoyed providing us a quick and tasty education in Georgian cuisine and dishes.
The following is just a taste of Georgian food and some of our favorite dishes from almost two months of traveling throughout the country, from the capital city of Tbilisi to Kahketi, Svaneti, Borjomi and other areas in the east. We sampled Georgian food in restaurants, markets, and family homes. In other words, we dove deep into Georgian cuisine.
Traditional Georgian Food
Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings)
Beautifully twisted knobs of dough, khinkali are typically stuffed with meat and spices, then served boiled or steamed. The trick with khinkali is to eat them without making a mess or spilling the hot broth inside all over yourself. How to eat khinkali: sprinkle with black pepper, grab the dumpling by the handle and turn upside down. Take small bites from the side, slurping some broth as you go.
Roasted eggplant (badrijan) strips, served flat and topped with walnut paste. Sweet and savory, this dish is one of Audrey’s favorites.
Lobio (Bean Soup)
A cross between bean soup and refried beans. The consistency and taste of lobio varies widely. That it often bears a resemblance to Mexican bean dishes is almost always satisfying. For full effect, the traditional way to eat lobio is with a round of mchadi, Georgian corn bread. We often searched for lobio after we’d been exhausted by meat and bread, and found it quite often, including in some unusual locations.
Mtsvadi (Shashlik, meat skewers)
roasted chunks of pork, salted. For the perfect mtsvadi, cut some fresh onions and place in a metal bowl, then stir it over a . We were lucky to have mtsvadi in an impromptu barbecue in the mountains. It was among some of the best barbecued meat we’ve ever had.
Be careful, chunks of the prized chalahaji (or back meat) are usually in limited amounts and meant to be shared with the group. Audrey learned this after unknowingly taking the whole skewer for herself to shrieks of objection. She then shared.
Poultry (chicken or turkey) served with a thinned paste of walnut, garlic and herbs. Considered a winter dish (“sivi” implies cold in Georgian), satsivi is usually eaten around the holiday and the New Year, particularly in the of Adjari. Though we’ve enjoyed this at Georgian restaurants abroad, we unfortunately didn’t have an authentic opportunity to try it this time around.
Mashed potatoes and lots of cheese
Mashed potatoes are the traditional Svanetian farmer food. We’ll never forget waking up at our host family’s in the town of Adishi to a plateful (for each of us) of the stuff. We took a few spoonfuls and could barely move.