Want to indulge your taste buds in a culinary journey of traditional Georgian food? From the bustling streets of Tbilisi to the serene valleys, the country has some of the best food to try. Picture yourself devouring the iconic Khachapuri, where the golden crust embraces a gooey blend of cheese and eggs. And let’s not forget the savory delight of Khinkali, each dumpling a burst of flavor waiting to explode. Hungry yet?
While exploring the country on a 13-day tour with Arara, I had the opportunity to try many of these dishes from Georgia and each had me craving more. So, let’s savor the essence of the country—one delicious dish at a time!
Names of the Best Traditional Georgian Foods to Eat
1. Adjaruli Khachapuri
Picture this: a boat-shaped piece of Georgian bread with a gooey, cheesy, buttery, and eggy treasure at its core. That’s Adjaruli Khachapuri for you. It’s a variation of Georgia’s national dish (khachapuri), traditionally using two distinctive brined Georgian cheeses: sulguni and tart imeruli. This tasty delight is said to have originated from the seafaring Lazi people from Georgia’s Adjara region, hence the bread’s boat-like shape.
Ajapsandali is a delightful Georgian dish made from a medley of sautéed vegetables, including eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, and various spices. It’s like a symphony of flavors, with a hint of smokiness from the eggplant.
If you like your food to have a little kick, try Ajika. This spicy paste, often used as a dip or marinade, combines red chili peppers, garlic, various spices, and herbs to create an intense, aromatic blend. It adds a fiery kick to everything it touches, from grilled meats to stews, and it’s a staple in Georgian cuisine for those who crave a bit of heat.
4. Badrijani nigvzit
Badrijani Nigvzit is a mouthwatering Georgian appetizer that features eggplant slices, fried to perfection, and then generously filled with a creamy walnut paste mixed with garlic and herbs. The result is a delectable combination of textures and flavors, making it an irresistible way to start any Georgian meal. The dish is typically served with a side of pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs.
Chakapuli is like a warm, savory hug in a bowl. Often served on special occasions (like Easter,) it’s a stew with tender meat, often lamb or beef, mixed with tarragon, green plums, and a bunch of herbs and spices. It’s the kind of dish that really captures Georgian cooking, with its unique blend of ingredients and flavors.
Indulge in the delightful flavors of Chakhokhbili, a Georgian chicken stew that’s a culinary celebration. It is typically made with chicken thighs, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. The chicken is browned and then stewed in a tomato-based sauce with the other ingredients. The result is a flavorful and hearty dish that is perfect for a cold winter day.
A mouthwatering Georgian dish, Chashushuli is a spicy, hearty stew made with tender chunks of beef or lamb, which are fried first before being simmered in a flavorful tomato, red chili pepper, and herb sauce.
The combination of aromatic spices, such as coriander and fenugreek, adds a unique twist to this dish, making it a true culinary delight in the heart of Georgia. Enjoy it with some shoti (a canoe-shaped Georgian bread) and some Saperavi wine.
Note: Chashushuli shares similar ingredients with another Georgian dish, Ostri. The difference is that for this dish, the meat is cooked first before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients.
8. Chicken Tabaka
For those seeking a delightful taste of Georgian cuisine, Chicken Tabaka is a must-try. This beloved Georgian classic is typically made by pounding a whole chicken flat and then frying it in a pan with a heavy weight on top to press it down and ensure even cooking. This dish is seasoned with garlic, paprika, and plenty of herbs, resulting in a delightful, golden-brown crust that’s both crunchy and flavorful.
Chikhirtma is a soup that offers a comforting and flavorful experience with its silky texture and rich taste. It’s typically made from chicken broth, eggs, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, and vinegar.
The unique preparation involves tempering the eggs with hot broth, resulting in that sought-after silkiness. The addition of lemon juice and vinegar lends a tangy note, while garlic and coriander bring depth and complexity.
While known as a hangover cure in Georgia, Chikhirtma stands on its own as a delicious and satisfying soup, often accompanied by bread or rice.
Recipe: Chikhirtma by Tressa Jamil
Often referred to as the “Georgian Snickers,” Churchkhela is a delightful sweet treat. This unique confection consists of walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds strung on a string, dipped into a grape juice and flour mixture called tatara, and then left to dry. The end result is a chewy, energy-packed snack that’s perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. Plus, it’s all natural!
Chvishtari is a comforting Georgian cornbread that’s as visually appealing as it is delicious. This hearty dish combines cornmeal, cheese, and a touch of herbs to create a flavorful, cheesy bread with a crispy crust and a soft, gooey interior.
Recipe: Chvishtari by Geogian Recipes
Gebzhalia is a humble yet delectable Georgian culinary gem, where fresh cheese, fragrant mint, and crunchy walnuts come together in a harmonious salad. The creamy cheese blends with the refreshing mint, while the nuts provide a satisfying crunch, making it a perfect choice for a summer meal.
Recipe: Gebzhalia by Irma Iantbelidze
13. Georgian wine
In Georgia, wine isn’t just a beverage; it’s a cherished tradition. With millennia of winemaking history, Georgia boasts unique techniques like qvevri, clay pots used for fermentation.
Georgian wines are known for their bold flavors and diversity, which offer a rich palette of flavors, from bold reds like Saperavi, Mukuzani, and Kindzmarauli to aromatic whites such as Rkatsiteli, Kisi, and Tsolikauri.
Gozinaki is a traditional Georgian sweet that’s often made during festive occasions, especially New Year’s Eve and Christmas. This treat is created by mixing nuts, typically walnuts or almonds, with honey and forming it into small, crunchy bars. The combination of the nutty crunch and the sweetness of honey makes Gozinaki a beloved confection that embodies the spirit of celebration in Georgia.
Recipe: Gozinaki by Vera Abitbol
Originating from Ossetia, Georgia, Khabizgina (also known as Ossetian Khachapuri) is another twist on the country’s national dish. This round pie mainly features creamy Ossetian cheese and boiled potatoes as filling, all enveloped between two layers of dough.
The combination of creamy cheese, boiled potatoes, and soft dough creates a unique and satisfying flavor profile that is both comforting and delightful. Ossetian Khachapuri is a favorite among those who prefer a milder khachapuri experience, as the less salty cheese allows the other flavors to shine through.
Discover the essence of Georgian cuisine through the nation’s iconic dish, Khachapuri—unquestionably the Crown Jewel of the country’s food scene. This delectable masterpiece combines a bread base with a yummy filling of cheese, eggs, herbs, or meats, delivering a divine fusion of savory and cheesy indulgence.
Georgia takes pride in Khachapuri, elevating it to a cultural celebration with distinct regional variations. Whether savoring the Imeruli in Tbilisi or relishing an Adjarian by the Black Sea, each rendition is delicious.
Kharcho is a traditional Georgian soup known for its hearty flavors and rich spices. It is typically made with beef or lamb, but it can also be made with chicken, pork, and sometimes even goose. The soup is characterized by its use of tomatoes, rice, and walnuts, as well as a blend of spices that includes garlic, coriander, and blue fenugreek. Kharcho is often garnished with fresh herbs, such as cilantro and parsley.
For something a little on the weird food side, Khashi is a must-try. Best known as a hangover cure, this hearty soup combines slow-cooked beef or lamb, garlic, and aromatic spices. However, what makes Khashi truly extraordinary is its inclusion of offals—tripe, intestines, and other organ meats.
Recipe: Khashi by Irma Iantbelidze
Savor the heartiness of Khashlama, a staple in Georgian cuisine. Hailing from mountainous regions, this stew is straightforward yet flavorful, and is commonly cooked during the traditional Georgian feast called supra.
Chunks of lamb or beef are mixed with veggies and herbs, and then slow-cooked to create a satisfying dish.
Recipe: Khashlama by Hozoboz
20. Khinkali (kalakuri)
When it comes to the title of the best food in Georgia, khinkali is definitely a strong contender, and for good reason. These savory dumplings, often brimming with spiced meat, deliver a harmonious fusion of simplicity and taste.
Khinkali has two distinct recipes: the Khevsuruli, with its simple filling of meat and herbs, embodies the rustic tradition of Khinkali, while the Kalakuri, with its addition of mushrooms and herbs like parsley and coriander, reflects the modern culinary evolution of this beloved dumpling.
What sets Khinkali apart is its unique shape, resembling a twisted knot, and the ritualistic method of eating—bite, suck out the flavorful broth, then savor the hearty filling. Oh, and you have to use your bare hands when eating it!
Recipe: Khinkali recipe by Sal ome
Coming from the mountainous region of Svaneti, Kubdari is a hearty savory pastry filled with a flavorful mix of minced meat, onions, and spices. It is then baked to perfection!
Recipe: Kubdari by Chefkoch
Kuchmachi is a medley of organ meats, typically liver, heart, kidney, and spleen, combined with onions, spices, and walnuts. This flavorful mixture is sautéed, resulting in a dish that captures the essence of Georgian cuisine.
Kupati is a spicy sausage made from minced pork or beef, seasoned with a blend of garlic, black pepper, and other spices. It is then grilled or fried. The smoky aroma and robust flavors make it a popular choice, especially during festive gatherings and celebrations. Enjoy it with a side of sauerkraut or some sliced onions.
Originating from the Imereti region, Lobiani is a savory pastry that has a filling of mashed beans, typically red kidney beans, seasoned with spices like coriander and layered within a bread dough.
A classic among the dishes on this list, Lobio (which means ‘beans’ in Georgian) elevates the simplicity of beans into a delightful and flavorful experience. Dried red kidney beans, onions, garlic, and a blend of aromatic spices come together to create a hearty and nutritious stew. Lobio is best enjoyed while hot with some mchadi, a traditional Georgian cornbread.
In the realm of traditional Georgian fermented dairy, Matsoni (or Caspian Sea yogurt) claims a special position. It is made from the simplest of ingredients—milk, specifically cow’s milk, and the culture of naturally occurring bacteria. The process involves allowing this concoction to ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, resulting in a texture reminiscent of yogurt with a subtly tangy flavor.
Rustic and satisfying, Mchadi is a Georgian cornbread made from just three ingredients—cornmeal, water, and salt. It is often grilled or pan-fried, and has a golden and crispy exterior. Mchadi’s charm lies in its simplicity, serving as a delightful accompaniment to various dishes (like Lobio) or a tasty stand-alone snack.
Enter the world of Mtsvadi, also known as Georgian shashlik, where the art of grilling takes center stage. This dish consists of marinated chunks of meat (commonly lamb or pork,) skewered and grilled over grapevine prunings, which give it a unique flavor. It is usually served with a side of tkemali, a sour plum sauce.
Nazuki is a fragrant and flavorful sweet bread known for its soft, slightly chewy texture and delicate sweetness. It is traditionally baked in a clay oven called a “tone,” lending it a unique smoky aroma and a slightly crispy crust. The bread is often sold along the roadsides of Surami, a small town in Georgia’s Shida Kartli region.
Embrace the rustic charm of Ojakhuri, a hearty dish that consists of roasted meat (usually pork or chicken) and different vegetables and spices like potatoes and onions. It is a one-pan wonder! The dish is often served with a side of pickled vegetables or a spicy sauce, such as adjika or tkemali.
Ostri is a spicy beef stew that harmoniously blends tomato paste, onions, beef, red chili peppers, coriander seeds, and aromatic spices. Slow-cooked in a single pan, this savory dish is best when served with shoti bread and a glass of Saperavi wine.
Also known as mkhali, Pkhali is a colorful medley of finely chopped vegetables, typically spinach, eggplant, cabbage, beets, and beans, blended with ground walnuts, garlic, and aromatic spices. These are then rolled into ball-like shapes, which adds to its visual appeal.
Served cold, Pkhali is a refreshing and nutritious vegetarian delight, but also has another variation—chicken pkhali, which uses shredded chicken as one of its main ingredients.
Indulge your sweet tooth with Pakhlava, a delectable pastry with layers of flaky pastry that is generously filled with chopped nuts (usually walnuts). Finished with a sweet syrup or honey, Pkhlava is a beloved dessert that makes for a perfect finale to any Georgian feast.
Recipe: Pakhlava by Irma Iantbelidze
34. Puri (Shotis Puri)
When it comes to many of Georgia’s dishes, one bread is definitely a staple. Enter Puri (or Shotis Puri,) a traditional bread best known for its canoe-like shape, chewy texture, and slightly crispy crust.
Qababi, or kebabi, are grilled meat skewers that showcase a perfect blend of seasoned minced meat (usually a combination of pork and beef,) which are then wrapped in soft lavash bread and served with a spicy tomato sauce called satsebeli.
Satsivi is a cold, walnut-based sauce that adds a rich, nutty flavor to various dishes. Typically served as a dipping sauce for poultry, especially chicken or turkey, the creamy consistency and earthy undertones of satsivi create a unique and satisfying taste.
Hailing from the mountainous Racha region of Georgia, Shkmeruli (or chkmeruli) is a rustic dish that comes from the mountainous Racha region of Georgia. Tender chunks of chicken are bathed in a creamy garlic-infused milk and butter sauce, traditionally cooked in a clay dishware called a ketsi to retain the dish’s rich flavors and moisture.
Sulguni is a semi-soft, brined cheese that has a distinctive tangy taste and elastic texture. It is often used in various dishes, from salads to khachapuri, the beloved cheese-filled bread.
Crafted by a Georgian pharmacist named Mitrofan Lagidze in 1887, Tarkhuna (or tarragon soda) is a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage that adds a unique twist to the Georgian drinking experience. Fizzy and herbal, this green elixir features the distinct flavor of tarragon, offering a delightful alternative to conventional sodas.
40. Tatara or Pelamushi
Tatara (or Pelamushi) is a dessert that is made with a thick grape juice called badagi, plus flour and/or cornmeal. Its dense, pudding-like texture makes it a delightful ending to any Georgian feast.
Tkemali is a tangy sauce that elevates any dish with its bold and flavorful profile. Crafted from sour plums, garlic, and a blend of spices, it strikes a harmonious balance between sweetness and acidity. Whether served alongside grilled meats or as a dipping sauce for traditional Georgian dishes (like mtsvadi and kharcho,) this condiment adds a zesty kick.
Tklapi, a traditional fruit ‘leather,’ showcases the vibrant flavors of Georgia’s orchards in a convenient, chewy form. Made by sun-drying pureed fruits like plums or apricots, Tklapi offers a naturally sweet and intense fruit experience. Its portable nature makes it a popular snack!
Tolma consists of grape leaves or cabbage leaves painstakingly wrapped around a savory filling of ground meat, rice, herbs, and spices. The stuffed leaves are then gently simmered in a flavorful broth and sometimes served with some sour cream on the side.
Ready to embark on a flavorful adventure through the heart of traditional Georgian food? Whether you’re the ultimate foodie or just someone who loves the best culinary adventures, this gastronomic list is an invitation to savor the authentic flavors that define this Caucasus gem. From the cheesy delights of khachapuri to the sweet chewiness of churchkhela, each dish paints a vibrant history of Georgia’s cuisine.
You can try the recipes at home or for an epic travel bucket list experience, head off to the country yourself! When I went, it was on the Classical Tour Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia with Arara Tours. It was a 13-day itinerary, but they also have a 17-day tour for those who want to eat even more: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia in 17-days.