Georgian cuisine is as ancient as the Georgian people themselves. It is surprisingly diverse and rich, like the nature, culture and traditions of this beautiful country. The Georgian feast is an integral part of the culture of the people, therefore Georgian treats correspond to such a high level. Georgians tried to make their cuisine not only magically tasty, but also bright, original, refined, distinctive and unforgettable. It dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. and many dishes were practically unchanged. Dishes of Georgian cuisine have absorbed the best culinary traditions of the peoples of the Transcaucasus, as well as Asia and the Black Sea region, while remaining unique and distinctive
Georgian cuisine is famous and loved all over the world. However, not everyone knows that there are many historical differences between the cuisines of eastern and western Georgia, which persist in our time. In the eastern regions, bread made from wheat flour is preferred, and in the western regions, corn cakes, known as “Mchadi”, are preferred. The favorite meat dishes of the inhabitants of eastern Georgia are made from beef or lamb, while in the west they prefer chicken and turkey. Spicy, well-salted cheeses, in particular in Tusheti, Kazbegi, Ninotsminda, are cooked in the east of Georgia. Spices, sauces, seasonings of the eastern and western regions also differ somewhat.
Cooking a Georgian dish requires quality and correct products. First of all, it is worth remembering that this cuisine does not consist only of popular dishes that everyone has heard, so feel free to go in search of new and interesting options for various dishes. First of all, pay attention to meat, fish, vegetable dishes, aromatic soups, aromatic spices and popular Georgian spices and sauces. In addition to sauces, Georgian cheeses are considered a very important ingredient for the national cuisine, which is not only served fresh, it is fried and added to many dishes. And, of course, favorite Georgian sweets. Georgian food is an amazing journey into the world of taste.
Georgian cuisine pays special attention to all kinds of appetizers. It should be noted that a variety of vegetable snacks are a distinctive feature of the Georgian table. Snacks greatly diversify the food, promote the secretion of digestive juices and whet the appetite. Therefore, they are most often served before lunch and dinner main courses. In Georgia, most snacks are seasoned with various spices, raw spicy herbs, walnuts with high nutritional properties, hot spices, sauces, wine vinegar, pomegranate juice, etc. All these products improve the taste, diversify the dishes and significantly increase their nutritional value.
Vegetable appetizers are prepared from raw, boiled, salted and pickled vegetables and herbs. Eggplants, beans (green beans and beans), spinach, red and green tomatoes and other vegetables are widely used for making snacks. Snack dishes are attractively decorated with various raw spicy herbs, onions cut into rings, pomegranate seeds, nut butter, etc. the prepared snacks help stimulate the appetite and therefore improve the absorption of food. A wide range of various fish products (boiled sturgeon and stellate sturgeon, balyk products, “Shamaia”, “Khramuli”, “Tsvera”, etc.) and meat products are served on the table as a snack.
Chicken, beef, lamb, pork, piglet, as well as offal cooked with spicy seasoning, and various gastronomic meat products (sausage, ham, etc.) are served from meat products in boiled cold form. A good custom is widespread in Georgia, serving thoroughly peeled and washed greens (depending on the season, parsley, dill, watercress, tarragon, mint, basil, thyme, green onions, etc.) at any time of the year. Radish, whole tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are also served on the table along with greens. Greens and vegetables decorate the table and, most importantly, enrich food with vitamins and minerals. In addition to fresh vegetables and herbs, pickled and pickled vegetables and herbs are used as a snack.
One of the peculiarities of Georgian cuisine is that any meat is used for cooking. Here you can taste pork, chicken, lamb, beef or turkey. The long existence of the Georgian nation at the intersection of many cultures and influences has led to the fact that, in general, in Georgian cuisine, none of the types of meat is of predominant importance. Cooking recipes are carefully stored and inherited. One of the national culinary specialties is cooking over an open fire. Until now, in many families, meat and fish are fried on barbecue grills. Georgian meat dishes can be made from pork, lamb, beef and poultry.
Many people think that in the Caucasus all meat dishes are traditionally made from lamb, but in Georgia this is not at all the case. Lamb is used less often here. Tolerance to all types of meat does not prevent Georgians from loving more pork and poultry – turkey and chicken. Such dishes as “Satsivi”, “Tabaka”, “Chikhirtma” and “Chakhokhbili” have long since migrated to the category of international cuisine. They are prepared in different countries of the world. As already mentioned, Georgian cuisine can safely boast of a special variety of meat dishes. Variety is not only the choice of the meat itself, but also the method of its preparation and the most important rule – the meat must be fresh, then it will turn out to be really tasty.
In Georgia, pork has always been considered an indispensable attribute of the national cuisine, and to this day it remains a favorite product. Especially the demand for it increases in the spring-summer period, when the “barbecue” season begins. For beef, fresh brisket is the most popular item in this segment. The tenderloin (the groin of the back of a cow) is also very much appreciated, as this meat is tasty and tender. Lamb and lamb are less popular, although many dishes based on them are very popular among Georgian gourmets. Lamb, lamb and veal dishes can be tasted on the menu of almost any reputable restaurant. It is impossible to imagine a more common and beloved Georgian cuisine dish like barbecue. In this country, meat on a skewer has been cooked for a long time and the locals call it “Mtsvadi”.
Fish in Georgia is very tasty. Fish dishes occupy a significant place among other dishes of Georgian cuisine, but if we compare meat dishes with fish, then the latter are not the leading ones in this country. Most fish dishes are consumed in coastal areas. It is in Georgia that “Shamaia”, “Tsvera”, “Khramuli”, “Kalmakhi” live. These types have fatty but very soft meat. The fish lives in crystal clear mountain river rapids with strong currents. The most delicious trout fish live in the same waters. She does not have the usual fish taste and she has quite tasty meat.
Boiled dishes are prepared from ordinary fish, sometimes it is stewed. And naturally, like all other dishes, different types of seasonings are added to it. Sometimes it is served with a vegetable side dish. The fish is prepared in such a way as to preserve the most natural, delicate taste, without obscuring it, but enriching it with processing. Fish is served with the same sauces as the meat. The word “Tsotskhali” literally means alive, alive. The bottom line is that you need a whole live fish. In this dish, the most important thing is the herbs and sauces with which it is served. “Tsotskhali” can be either boiled or baked.
Fish dishes in Georgian cuisine are in no way inferior to meat ones. Whichever dish you choose, we are sure everything will be an extravaganza of taste. This is a lot of herbs, spices, marinade – this is what decides everything. Naturally, when using fresh fish, and the other is not used in Georgia. White wines from different regions of the country are perfect for fish dishes, which will only emphasize the taste and bring you pleasure. Rkatsiteli, Khikhvi, Mtsvane are some of the many dry white wines that perfectly complement fish dishes. Famous dishes should be mentioned: Trout with white wine, Mullet with nut sauce, Fish in tomato sauce, Fish in pomegranate sauce, Burbot in a pot with vegetables, Burbot with saffron, Steam fish with tomatoes.
Dairy products occupy an important place in Georgian cuisine. Georgian dairy products are often prepared with spices and spices. It is important to note that dairy products and cheeses, including, are prepared not only from cow, but also from goat milk, although the latter can be found mainly in the Georgian outback. In the cuisine of almost every nation there is such a product made from milk, it is impossible to find similar products in the cuisines of other nations. There is also such a product in Georgian cuisine – Matsoni. The fermented milk product Matsoni is very popular in the Caucasus and in Georgia in particular. It is used as a component of dough for khachapuri, making sauces and soups.
A distinctive feature of the Georgian table is the abundant and frequent use of cheeses. Georgian cheeses are quite specific and here again the difference between the tastes of western and eastern Georgia is manifested. Western Georgia prefers mild cheeses in the form of a round flatbread with a sour milk flavor. The eastern one chooses more salty and spicy cheeses. Moreover, cheese in Georgia is not a snack dish, but the main component necessary for preparing hot dishes. For this, cheese is boiled both in milk and in water, fried in a pan, skewer, baked in dough, pounded, poured with butter and spices. This feature of Georgian cuisine is due to the fact that most often Georgian cheeses are semi-finished products that have not gone through a full ripening process.
You can count several hundred different Georgian dishes, which, in one way or another, include cheese. All Georgian cheeses can be eaten like regular cheese and used as an ingredient for more complex dishes. The main thing is to use natural products in cooking and honor the culinary traditions that were once presented to Georgians, and today to the whole world, such delicious cheeses as “Suluguni”, “Tushuri” and “Imeruli”. “Nadugi” is a “close relative” of Italian ricotta, since both cheeses are prepared using the same technology. A portion of fresh milk is added to the cheese and heated until the milk is curdled. Then the cheese is filtered off and as a result a fine-grained, tender mass resembling cottage cheese is obtained.
In addition to main courses and pastries, Georgian cuisine is rich in soups. It is characteristic that the use of vegetables in the preparation of soups is minimal, and the main emphasis is on meat and meat broths with the addition of flour, herbs, and sometimes eggs. Spices and often fruit juices, Georgian matsoni yogurt or wine vinegar are used abundantly. All these ingredients give the ready-made dishes a subtle sourness and a unique taste. Georgian cuisine is represented not only by meat, but also dairy and vegetarian soups. Flavored soups stimulate appetite and help the absorption of subsequent portions of food. Soup in Georgia is famous for a variety of recipes, and among them are not only hot, but also cold soups.
For the manufacture of broths, most often they take both beef and lamb meat, poultry, fish, and mushrooms and vegetables are added to the meat broth for flavor, and milk is often used in soups. Georgian soups are usually hearty, rich and dense. The variety of rich soups is great – everyone will find a dish to their liking. As already mentioned, soups are prepared almost without vegetable grounds, but their consistency is much denser. This is achieved by adding egg yolks or whole eggs. To prevent eggs from curdling when heated, they are mixed with some acidic medium. Most often, thickened and dried plum puree “Tkemali” is used as an acidic medium. The acidic environment significantly increases the digestibility of the dish.
Since the Bronze Age, ancient people have been brewing various soups. Boiled food made it possible to live thanks to stable yields. Herbs and other ingredients were added for nutritional or medicinal reasons. Cooking soups in Georgian national cuisine is a whole ritual. In some dishes, strict adherence to the recipe takes a whole day. This is how Khashi is prepared: in order to taste this Georgian dish, you must first soak the meat for 12 hours in water, and then cook it for 8 hours. But not everything is so complicated. Many recipes for Georgian soups are easy to prepare, and the first courses themselves are rich and tasty. The most famous soups of Georgian cuisine are: Kharcho, Chikhirtma, Bozbashi and Khashi.
Spices and sauces
Mastering the art of preparing original spices is considered aerobatics in cooking. Not a single kitchen in the world can do without spicy herbs. It’s just that somewhere they put less spices, but somewhere they literally can’t do without them. In Georgia, no meal can be imagined without aromatic herbs. There, for centuries, seasoning recipes have been perfected and the ideal proportions of spicy mixtures have been compiled. Spices are the soul of a dish, especially when it comes to Georgian cuisine with its incomparable spicy herbs. Georgian herbs and spices are ideal for both national dishes and other delicacies. Having learned how to select oriental spices for meat and vegetable dishes, it will be possible to better convey the entire palette of taste.
The fragrant composition of Georgian spices will not only recreate the taste, but also enrich meat dishes and rich soups with new flavors. Spices from Georgia have not only a unique taste, but also unique properties for the body. Regular addition of spices to the diet has a positive effect on the condition of hair, skin and nails. The spice removes toxins from the body and has a positive effect on the work of the heart. Many of them strengthen the immune system and have diuretic and choleretic properties. The properties of the Georgian spice improve the functioning of the liver and pancreas, and also have a calming effect. Beneficial properties help fight bacteria and allow you to recover faster from colds or bronchitis.
For the preparation of many Georgian dishes, various sauces are necessarily included. They are prepared exclusively from natural ingredients: fresh vegetables, spices, berries, and for the scent Georgians like to add nuts and garlic. Many recipes for Georgian sauces have been passed down from generation to generation, and today its preparation is a kind of ritual and a tribute to traditions. Each Georgian sauce is unique. Georgian sauces give national dishes a special taste peculiar only to Georgian cuisine. Georgian cuisine offers a wide range of hot and sour sauces. Among the acidic, the main raw materials are juices and pulp of “Tkemali”, blackthorn, pomegranate, blackberry, dogwood or barberry plums. Bazhe, a very spicy gravy of crushed walnuts with garlic and wine vinegar, served with meat and fish is considered a special festive sauce.
Pastry products occupy an important place in Georgian cuisine. Since ancient times, flour was the most affordable food product that was used everywhere, which is why dough products have so deeply entered the life and life of Georgians. As a rule, flour products are prepared from sifted premium wheat flour. The composition of the test depends on the type of product. Basically, yeast dough is used, which rises easily and takes on a curvy shape, however, for some dishes, the dough is prepared steep, without the use of yeast. Dough dishes can be stored for 2-3 days, but they have the brightest taste immediately after cooking. Flour products have long become a part of the Georgian national cuisine and you will definitely not be able to bypass them when visiting Georgia.
Bread and bakery products in Georgia are commonly consumed foods and products. For example, a meal or a modest family dinner will not do without bread. Georgian cuisine includes many varieties of bread (Puri). Georgian bread is traditionally baked in a large, round oven called “Thone”. Proper preparation involves knowing a lot of old tricks. Bread is an invariable component of every Georgian feast. Georgians are convinced that only a good person can make real bread. They are sure that the bread “likes” when they talk to it, hum nice melodies. Only then does the baking turn out to be really tasty and aromatic. Traditional Georgian bread and flour products are varied. They include “Tonis Puri”, “Shotis Puri”, “Meskhuri Puri”, “Lavashi”, “Nazuki”, “Kada”.
In some parts of Western Georgia, unleavened corn cakes (Mchadi) baked in an oven (so-called Bukhari) in special ceramic (stone) pans (Ketsi) are used as bread. Sometimes bread is replaced by unleavened corn porridge – “Gomi”. Traditional flour products of Georgia are radically different depending on the region of the country. Baking can have a sweet, spicy or meat filling and can be used as an independent dish. It is served with first courses, Adjika, Tkemali, Satsebeli and other sauces. For example, “Khachapuri”, the Georgian national flour product, which is a cake with cheese. There are many types: Imeretian “Khachapuri” – round; Megrelian – also round, but covered with cheese on top (suluguni); Adjarian “Khachapuri” is baked in the shape of a boat and poured over with an egg; “Khachapuri” of Ratcha- round, with bean filling, cooked with bacon of Ratcha.
The inhabitants of the country have always been distinguished by their special love for a variety of sweets, which is reflected in a large number of truly unique confectionery products. Georgians are also famous for their ability to modify previously borrowed confectionery products: Butter bread; Sweet pie – was borrowed from Russian cuisine, however, unlike the original recipe, the Georgians add a filling made from a mixture of nuts and jam to it; Halva and so on.
“Churchkhela” is a traditional Georgian sweet made from nuts and grape juice. In order to taste this dish, you need to spend a lot of time. “Churchkhela”, which is divided into Imeretian and Kakhetian, is being prepared for several months using a special technology.
“Pelamushi” (Tatara) is another famous Georgian sweet made from corn flour and grape juice. The well-known Georgian jelly is usually served to guests with various nuts. In “Pelamushi” it is also customary to serve flour products or “Baty-buty” – corn flakes seasoned with syrup.
Another popular Georgian sweet is “Gozinaki” made from natural honey. This dish is obligatory served on the first day of the new year. For its preparation, honey heated in a saucepan is used, as well as fried nuts. After the mixture is ready, it is laid out on the table, where oblong candies are made from it.
Not every branch of agriculture can boast that it is rightly considered one of the country’s national pride. Historians say that the first wineries appeared on the territory of Georgia several thousand years ago. Domestic craftsmen were able to develop more than five hundred different varieties of grapes, which gave the world a great variety of unique varieties of wine and champagne. Tasters around the world do not get tired of emphasizing the special aroma and taste of Georgian wines. The taste of traditional Georgian wine largely depends on the place where the grapes were harvested. Over the years, each region of Georgia has been able to find its own niche, thanks to which a variety of wines have become the country’s national calling card.
Winemaking has long become not just one of the highly profitable industries, but a part of the national culture. Today, in almost every Georgian home, you can find wine created according to centuries-old recipes. It should be noted that not all wine is created exclusively for subsequent sale. Many Georgians prefer to make wine for their own collection. After preparation, homemade wine is placed in special vessels made of clay – “Qvevri”. In order for the wine to get a truly excellent taste, “Qvevri” is buried in the ground. Each variety of wine has its own ripening period, after which you can safely start tasting it. The direct tasting process includes many rituals and traditions.
Chacha – which has been cooked in Georgia from time immemorial, has been elevated to the rank of national products. The most famous analogue of this Georgian drink is considered to be “grappa”, produced in Italy from the same pomace of grapes. In general, this Georgian national drink is difficult to describe; all the characteristic features of the national mentality are concentrated in it. The wine material obtained from grape pomace undergoes a distillation process, as a result of which an original crystal clear drink with a strength of at least 45 degrees with a grape aroma and pleasant taste is obtained. There is another alcoholic pride in Georgia – Georgian cognac, the fame of which has thundered almost all over the world. This is a very peculiar drink that is liked by people with good taste, who are able to understand it.
The unique properties of the thermal waters have been known since ancient times – the locals used them to treat various diseases. In Georgia, there are more than 730 types of mineral waters that are used for balneological purposes and industrial bottling. Mineral water occupies the main place in the structure of Georgia’s exports – in 2016, exports of mineral and fresh water amounted to about $ 80 million, which is 3.8% of total exports. On the territory of Georgia there are about 2 thousand fresh water springs, 22 deposits of mineral waters, including medicinal ones – “Borjomi”, “Sairme”, “Nabeglavi”, “Zvare” and others.
Mineral water is not only drunk, but also successfully used in the kitchen for cooking. Mineral water breaks down meat fibers very well and thanks to this the spices easily penetrate into the meat and, for example, barbecue gets incredible juiciness and softness. In many dishes, mineral water is poured into the meat injector. Many confectioners, in order to make a biscuit, specially buy Borjomi, since it is the most neutral water in taste. When baking delicious tortillas from corn flour or during the preparation of the famous “Khachapuri” dough, you cannot do without mineral water with a high content of carbonates. The bitter-salty taste of this water, rich in sulfates, bicarbonates, chlorides and calcium, gives the dishes a special taste.
“Lagidze Waters” is well known not only in Georgia. Original flavors – creamy, chocolate, tarragon, grape and lemon – individually or in any combination. All flavors are made from natural syrups according to the same secret recipe and technology that Mitrofane Lagidze invented. He used only natural ingredients – fresh fruits and herbs from different regions of Georgia, the most delicious of which were selected for “Lagidze Water”. There are no chemical impurities in lemonades, which makes them accessible to children, expectant mothers and the elderly. Due to the high content of the natural vitamin complex, lemonades of the “Lagidze Water” brand are beneficial for health, and this is not the whole list of advantages.