Most people haven’t heard of Georgian dishes and they don’t sound familiar. We were in the same situation before travelling to the country. We didn’t know what to expect food-wise when we booked our trip to Georgia, but after having our first meal in Tbilisi we decided to try as many Georgian dishes as we could.
I have written another post about how to travel to Georgia and what to do in Tbilisi and I also explained in that post how Georgians are proud of their culture and their food. So, get ready to be blown away by the diversity of Georgian dishes.
How to order Georgian food
When you go to a restaurant in Georgia, you might get an English menu, or if you are lucky you might get a menu with pictures of the food, but this is not a case in a lot of restaurants outside Tbilisi. The Georgian alphabet is not very easy to read for a foreigner, I tried my best to add the names of the dishes both in English and Georgian in this post to help you choose your dish and ask for the right one.
Georgian Salad with Walnuts Dressing (სალათი ნიგვზით)
The Georgian salad with walnuts dressing is a very refreshing salad and is highly recommended on a warm day in the summer. The ingredients include cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and with a walnuts’ creamy sauce dressing. I tried this salad on the very first day of our trip and I fell in love with it. I know it is a very simple salad, but it became my favourite one and I always ordered it as a side for each meal we had in the country.
Mtsvadi is a Georgian kebab skewers cooked over an open flame. Mtsvadi can be beef, lamb or pork meat. Some places add salt but others marinate the meat in pomegranate juice for some time before cooking, which makes it really tender, juicy and delicious.
Khinkali or Georgian soup dumpling is an iconic traditional dish in the country. Khinkali is similar to Chinese soup dumplings, but I found the taste to be quite different. The Georgian ones come in a bigger size.
Khinkali is made of twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat and spices. The meat can be pork, lamb or beef, we also found that some restaurants were serving a vegetarian Khinkali which had mushrooms, cheese or potatoes instead of meat.
Eating Khinkali requires some skills. You should grab the dumpling from its topknot with your hand and turn it upside down. When you are ready, take a small bite from a side and suck the juice out. When there is no juice left, you can continue to eat it without making a mess, but make sure to leave the top knot on the plate.
Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian bread, it is, very simply put, cheese-stuffed flatbread. It can be either a main dish or a side dish to share when you are a group. It looks like a pizza, but instead of having cheese on the top, it has cheese in the middle of the dough making its cheesy taste stand out. And of course, you can also opt for different variants, Imeretian is the most common type, but you can opt for Mingrelian which it also has cheese on the top. Cheese-stuffed bread with cheese on top, how delicious!
Khachapuri Adjaruli (ხაჭაპური აჭარული)
Another variant is Khachapuri Adjaruli, which is also a traditional bread, but with an egg and butter on the top. To be honest, it doesn’t look like normal bread, but it is like a canoe made by dough with an egg on top.
This bread is definitely the main course. If you order Khachapuri Adjaruli, I doubt if you can eat anything else for your meal. The dish is served hot and is better to eat it hot too. You can stir the yolk and butter into the molten cheese and enjoy it.
Chicken Satsivi (საცივი)
Chicken Satsivi is chicken in garlic walnut sauce. It’s a traditional and popular Georgian dish. When I ordered Satsivi for the first time, I was expecting a simple chicken dish. When my dish arrived in a very hot pot and I tried it, I fell in love with it. I usually don’t go often for a dish that contains onions and garlic, but I took the risk in Georgia and I am so glad I did it.
The dish became one of my favourites. It didn’t taste or smelled like garlic or onion at all. It tasted really nice and was very creamy. Later on, when I was back in the UK, I found out that preparing this dish takes at least 24 hours.
Chashushuli is a traditional Georgian beef stew with tomato sauce, spices, and herbs. If you like beef stew as I do, you will enjoy this dish very much. The dish is served hot and you can have it with bread or by itself.
These were the dishes I tried and I liked during my trip to Georgia. Let me know in the comments what Georgian dishes you like the most.