26th April 2019
The rich cuisine of Georgia is one of the best-kept secrets in the world. The dishes are hearty, flavorful and draw from the varied cultural influences from Greece, Rome, Persia and Turkey that have shaped the history of this European gem.
Georgian street food is hearty, with heavy emphasis on stuffed breads, dumplings, yogurt and kebabs and skewers. Georgia is the crossroads between the Mediterranean and West Asia, and each dish reflects the influences of its neighbors in a way that is uniquely Georgian. Here’s a handy guide to the types of food you can expect to find in busy cities and more remote towns in the Caucasus Mountains!
This sweet and savory dish is a crowd favorite when traveling to Georgia. It consists of large slices of fire-roasted eggplant smeared with delectable walnut paste. Walnut paste is full of herbs, spices and tangy garlic, and gives a flavorful kick to just about any simple dish. You can even make it at home! Check out the walnut paste recipe shared by Chef Carla Capalbo from her book “Tasting Georgia: A Food and Wine Journey Across the Caucasus.”
Khachapuri is a breakfast staple in Georgian street food, and is as delicious as it sounds! Khachapuri is a thin pie stuffed with warm, oozing cheese. The recipe varies slightly depending on the region of Georgia you’re traveling through and the preference of the street vendor. It may be tucked into thin, flaky filo dough, or stuffed with tarragon, mushrooms and rice as well. Some variations even call for an egg topping!
Lobiani is a variation of Khachapuri, with a bean mixture used to stuff the bread instead of cheese.
Khinkali is one of the most popular Georgian street food dishes (and the messiest as well!) Eating these dumplings without spilling all over yourself can be a challenge, but the flavors are well worth it.
Khinkali is a knob of twisted dough containing meat, spices and broth that is boiled or steamed. When you bite into khinkali, the hot broth rushes out - so it’s important to slurp a bit as you enjoy this Georgian delicacy. If black pepper is available, top the dumpling with a shake before your first bite! Many visitors consider it some of the best food from Tbilisi when they visit the capital city.
Fresh matsoni is a table staple in Georgia. It’s tangy and sour, and used in a lot of dishes. Matsoni complements savory flavors like meat, roasted vegetables and khachapuri. Matsoni blended with honey or fruit makes for a sweet breakfast treat! Bonus: Matsoni is also widely thought to have medicinal properties because the bacterial starter and fresh milk used in it’s creation!
Lobio closely resembles Mexican beans, and is a cross between refried beans and bean soup. This hearty dish is often very familiar to American travelers, which can be some comfort when trying new delicacies. Lobio is often served with Mchadi, or the Georgian version of cornbread, for dipping. If you feel overloaded with rich meat dishes, lobio can be a nice way to reset your palate!
This Georgian delicacy might look quite familiar to American travelers, as well! Mtsvadi is the Georgian version of barbecue, and consists of salted and fire-roasted chunks of pork. Oftentimes mtsvadi is mixed with fresh cut onions and stirred together over the file for additional flavor.
As you venture into smaller Georgian towns, oftentimes Qababi is the most popular (and could be the only food item) available for you. Qababi consists of grilled meat seasoned with onion and sumac and wrapped in a thin layer of bread. Qababi is hearty, flavorful and satisfying - just the perfect dish after a long day of travel!
Georgian street food should not be missed on any journey to Georgia. In fact, the rich culinary traditions of Georgia deserve their own tour!
That’s why we’ve put together a decadent 9-day tour led by Chef Carla Capalbo through Georgia. Not only will you sample Georgian street food and the flavorful traditional dishes made in most households, but you’ll have the opportunity to sample the rich Georgian wine grown in the Kakheti region.
On this tour, you’ll enjoy 8 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 7 dinners as well as various cooking masterclasses. In addition, you’ll see some of the famed World Heritage sites scattered throughout this mysterious country.
Find out more about the Tastes of Georgia: A Culinary Tour with Carla Capalbo.