When you hear about Georgian cuisine, you automatically think about the fluffy, cheesy and insta-famous Khachapuri – which happens to be the country’s national dish. Or maybe you think about US state, Georgia. Or even the 18th century Georgian Era.
But no, that’s not what we’re talking about. You think that a cheesy bread is probably all the small country has to offer. You’re not too familiar with the region and don’t think much of it.
Here’s the deal:
Not many know this, but Georgia has a diverse selection of cuisine. Some people may call Georgia as a cheese lover’s paradise, but it also has delectable appetizers, meat, desserts, wine, and even vegetarian dishes.
Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it shares borders with Turkey, Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. With Caucasian, Eastern Europe and Asian influences, Georgian foods is a must try for your taste buds.
That’s why in this article we’re going to give you the ultimate list of delicious Georgian Foods that you must try.
With this list, whether you’re traveling to its capital city Tbilisi, going to a local Georgian restaurant near you, or even cooking your own from a Georgian food blog recipe – you’ll know which dish you should try. We have conveniently divided the list into cheeses, vegetarians, meat, desserts, and wines for you.
We’ll also provide where you can get these Georgian dishes. Either it’s simple enough to cook, or if you can get them at restaurants in Tbilisi or near you.
Delicious, hearty and satisfying, it’s no wonder Khachapuri is the national dish of Georgia. This dish has gone social media famous due to its very attractive looks.
Khachapuri is a traditional cheese filled bread. After baking it, you can rip off the bread and dip it in the cheese that’s right in the middle of the dough.
You can often see them use eggs as the filling as well, just like the ones you on social media sites. This particular version is the most common one, and Khachapuri itself is considered as a staple food in Georgia.
You can also find this particular dish in Russia and Armenia.
Just like Khachapuri, Pkhovani is a bread filled with spinach and cheese in the middle. It’s shaped like a pizza, and perfect for you to dip the dough into the cheese and spinach fillings. This dish is another vegetarian dish that you can enjoy.
Georgians love their bread dishes, and this one is from the mountainous region in the northwestern part of Georgia.
The traditional recipe calls for Sulguni cheese, which is a pickled Georgian cheese, giving it a particular sour flavor and elasticity like mozzarella.
Unlike the open-faced Khachapuri, Chvishtari’s filling is stuffed inside much like Lobiani. So if you’re looking for cheesy bread without the hassle and mess, Chvishtari is more suitable for you.
If you love cheese, this next dish might make you want to book a one-way ticket to Georgia. Erlaji is polenta mixed with gooey cheese that you can eat with bread.
Messy and fun, this will be a favorite with your family to share.
Achma is a Georgian cheese lasagna. It has a crisp top with buttery layers underneath.
It is quite a complicated dish to make, as you need to layer them to achieve the lasagna texture patiently. With so much labor going into making it, it’ll be worth the order when you visit the local Georgian restaurant.
Another cheese lover dish, Gebzhalia is prepared using cottage cheese and mixed with mint.
It’s quite simple as the recipe only requires you to boil the cheese and mix in the mint. Gebzhalia can be rolled up or just cut up into triangular pieces.
Nadughi is a standout among the many appetizers served in Georgian cuisines. A soft cottage cheese that’s similar to Italian ricotta, Nadughi is served rolled in thin leaves of Sulguni. It’s eaten with fresh pomegranates and mint, making it the perfect palate cleanser before your meal.
The dish is made from mixing cottage cheese with butter. Cottage cheese is drained and dried, then aged inside a clay pot for a month a half to develop good mold. It’s then mixed with melted butter and used as a spread.
Borano is creamy and filling, but incredibly delicious. The main ingredients are cheese and butter; it’s cooked inside a clay pot called ketsi. It goes well with Georgian bread or vegetable salads.
This dish is a famous cream that’s similar to sour cream or cream cheese. Usually, it’s served with mchadi or cornbread by spreading it. Be sure to watch yourself when you eat this dish, because it’s light but very fatty!
Badrijani is a vegetarian dish that’s sort of like a spring roll, but instead of rice paper, you use eggplants! What makes this dish even more delectable is it uses fried eggplant. The texture is soft and moist as the eggplant has caramelized.
Inside it, the eggplants are stuffed with walnuts and garlic. Then it’s topped with some pomegranate seeds.
The ingredients give a play on your taste buds because unlike many dishes it has a soft and juicy exterior with a crunchy filling thanks to the walnuts. Lastly, the pomegranate gives it a refreshing taste.
This dish is something that is eaten by the whole family and can be shared. Eggplants make another appearance, accompanied by onion, potato, tomatoes, pepper, and seasonings. You can choose to make it non-vegetarian by adding beef or lamb.
Essentially a stew with fresh vegetables, the dish is quite satisfying to eat on a summer’s day when the plants are in season. Ajapsandali is also popular in Azerbaijan.
Lobio means bean in Georgian, which tells us a lot about the next dish.
Instead of eating it plain for breakfast, they use baked beans as the base of a thick soup seasoned with herbs and spices. Just like Khachapuri, it’s eaten with bread and cheese.
You can also add in walnuts or pomegranate seeds to give it a unique taste. Lobio is another healthy vegetarian alternative that you can try.
Another rendition of a vegetarian dish, this appetizer is made from chopped vegetables and then shaped into balls. It’s usually treated like a salad to start a meal.
As a variation, Pkhali can also be made with shredded chicken that’s mixed with vegetables. It is usually accompanied by pomegranate seeds on top.
Lobiani is a dish that’s served during the holidays in Georgia.
It’s a bean filled bread that is as fluffy as a Khachapuri, with a hint of smoked ham in its flavor. The beans are soaked overnight and cooked until tender, giving it a beautiful, satisfying consistency.
If you ever visit a Turkish restaurant, then it’s a big chance that you’ve seen Tolma or Dolma. It’s essentially a leaf with fillings inside. Most commonly used are vine and cabbage.
Aside from Georgia, this dish is also abundant in Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
You can have this dish vegetarian with plant-based fillings, or you can also have it with meat like beef and lamb for more satisfaction.
Mchadi is a Georgian cornbread that’s perfect to eat with Lobio or cheese. So when you visit a Georgian restaurant, don’t forget to have Mchadi as your side dish.
Similar to Tklapi, Tkemali is made of cherry plums. It’s used as sauces or marinate, on grilled meats or as a dip.
In Georgia, Tkemali is as common as ketchup in the US! You can make this yourself at home, or if you don’t have the ingredients, it is widely produced by big manufacturers from Georgia.
Dubbed as one of the easiest yogurts to make, Matsoni is a room temperature yogurt you can prepare at home.
The difference between Matsoni and other yogurts aside from being prepared at room temperature is that it has only a faint tartness in flavor, so it’s kid-friendly.
As simple as leaving your milk on a countertop for two days, all you need is to buy a starter culture, and you can make this healthy Georgian side dish at home.
If you remember Khacha-puri, Puri means bread in the Georgian language. This unique flat bread is very eye-catching due to its canoe shape. It’s baked in the traditional clay oven, which gives it a crunchy exterior.
Puri often looks appetizing with brown and black edges, and the center is soft and chewy. It’s a perfect complement to the Georgian cheese!
Adjika is a spicy condiment, often compared to Indian paste made with fresh peppers and has a bright red/orange color. It’s a compulsory companion to cucumber and tomato salad.
22. Svaneti salt
Svaneti salt is a spiced salt that’s used as a complement to salad, vegetables or cheese. It’s made with salt, dried garlic, chili pepper and an assortment of spices. Herbs like fenugreek and coriander are also often added to the mix.
Try making your own Svaneti salt at home, and sprinkle them on your salad for a taste!
Shilaplavi is a Georgian risotto dish with mushrooms. It’s prepared similarly to risotto and is often served during funerals as it has a degree of ceremonial significance. But you can also have this dish on a daily basis.
Gomi is a traditional cornmeal dish from the region of Samegrelo in Georgia. Gomi is made from cornmeal and corn flour and served as bread. It’s usually consumed with cheese but can also go perfectly with Lobio or other Georgian dishes.
25. Beetroot salad with Tkemali
As mentioned before, Tkemali is Georgian plum sauce. One of the uses for Tkemali is as a dressing in this beetroot salad. The sweet and sour taste gives a refreshing flavor. Add in some chopped walnuts to make it more complicated.
This one is similar to Khachapuri but has a herb filling. This pie dish is made with different herbs from the mountainous regions of Georgia, and sometimes cheese is added too.
Estragon pies are usually made with eggs, Estragon, green onion, and matsoni. The result is a soft and juicy taste that’s hard to forget.
28. Tomato and cucumber salad with walnuts
This one is hugely popular and served in almost all Georgian restaurant as an appetizer. Delicious and fresh, the salad is made with Georgian tomatoes, cucumbers, and greens. It’s then doused with spicy walnut sauce, giving it a unique flavor.
Just like many Asian countries, Georgia has their version of dumplings. Khinkali comes from the mountainous region of Georgia. The filling of the dumplings varies from region to region.
In general, the filling contains meat like beef and lamb, seasoned with onions, salt, and cumin. Some versions add herbs to give it more kick.
Similar to Chinese dumplings, Khinkali’s filling may contain soup to make it juicier. Careful not to drip any soup when you take a bite!
Mtsvadi is as unique as its name because according to the legend this dish is the favorite of many Georgian Kings.
Traditionally, this dish is made in an open fire outside, giving it an outdoor barbequed feel. It’s similar to what you call shashlik or shish kebab which is meat on a skewer.
What makes Mtsvadi different is the marinade. It uses the juice of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. It’s no wonder the fruit is so widely used as it makes the meat tender, juicy and sweet.
Mtsvadi can be made with pork, mutton, veal, and – if anything else is not available – beef.
Kharcho is a traditional beef soup that uses the sour Tklapi, dehydrated plum strips, as one of its main ingredients.
Hearty and delicious, the sweet and tart soup is made slowly by stewing meat such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken or goose, in water. Then slowly adding rice, walnuts, and all the herbs and spices.
What’s great is it also has rice in it so that you can get a balanced meal all in one pot — a good companion on a cold rainy night.
A meat stew that’s quite simple and flavorful, Chakapuli can be made easily at home with one pot.
Unlike Kharcho, this stew uses wine and green plums, peppers and coriander as its main ingredients. The result is a refreshing green stew that is delicious and good for you.
There’s something extraordinary about this dish that you may not expect.
From the outside, you might think of Kubdari just like another meat filled bread seasoned with spices and onions. But traditionally Kubdari is filled with cannabis leaves and Cannabis seed paste.
It’s so unique that it was added to the Georgian Cultural Heritage List. A must try when you visit Georgia!
Truly unique and tender, Shkmeruli is a chicken dish cooked in milk and garlic. This dish calls for young chicken meat so that it’s tender and melts in your mouth.
The whole chicken is cooked inside the oven before being served hot to your plate.
Another meaty concoction fit for a King, Ojakhuri is marinated pork and vegetables that are grilled to perfection. When you get this delivered to your table, it’s the perfect dish to be shared with the whole family. You can have other meat like chicken as an alternative as well.
36. Katmis Satsivi
The chicken in walnut sauce dish is also well known and loved in Russia. It’s a comforting dish that doesn’t leave you feeling too stuffed after.
It looks like Indian chicken curry but is made with walnut and garlic sauce. Order a plate of bread and salad to go with it, and it’s the perfect meal for a breezy summer night.
Traditionally made with beef, the stew can now be enjoyed with other protein like veal or pork.
It’s a tomato based stew, so you can be sure that it has a satisfyingly sweet and sour flavor when you dig into it. Order Chashushuli with a side of bread that you can dip into the stew. This dish is also simple enough that you can make it at home!
This one is for the meat lover in you. Kupati is traditional Georgian sausage made from a variety of meat like beef or pork.
For the adventurous ones, they also have Kupati made out of pig’s organ. So before ordering, make sure you know what’s inside that sausage.
But be warned, the sausage can be quiet spicy. But if you love a bit of heat, this is the perfect dish to order.
Different from other dishes we have on this list, Qababi is grilled minced meat.
It can be made out of a variety of meats like beef, pork or lamb. Traditionally it is a mix of beef and pork. You can also order this kebab with cheese to give it more decadent.
40. Tabaka Chicken
This one is truly unique, and a dish that is worth to try when you’re in a Georgian restaurant.
Tabaka is Georgian chicken cooked under a brick! It’s typically marinated overnight, and supposedly the brick allows the chicken to be cooked evenly and has a crispy exterior.
Seasoned with garlic, paprika, onions and peppers, Tabaka chicken can surely satisfy your appetite.
Pelmeni is originated from Russia, and it has several differences compared to other dumplings. The dough is unleavened and very thin, making the filling the star of the dish.
It is typically filled with uncooked meat and can be cooked in many ways. It can be boiled and served as is, fried and topped with sauce or even in soup. This is another example of simple Georgian dish that you can make at home.
We recommend trying the fried variant, as you can treat it as a snack and leaves enough room for other Georgian delicacies!
Sacivi is a traditional Georgian chicken dish with a thick sauce containing onion, garlic, walnuts, spices, and herbs. It’s a dish prepared during special occasions that require you to chill it for 24 hours before serving. Add a sprinkle of coriander to give it a fresh taste!
Decadent and unique, Kuchmachi is made with heart, liver, kidney, spleen and sometimes lungs. Although it sounds peculiar, the walnuts and pomegranates often mask the flavor and give it a fresh taste. It may not be your regular sausage, but it’s worth a try if you’re willing to be more adventurous!
44. Choban Kaurma
Choban means “shepherd” and this dish is made by the highland shepherds with whatever is available in the highlands. A sack stuffed with meat is then buried in a pit and lit on fire.
After it’s cooked, the meat is then flavored with spices such as salt, garlic or peppermint. It’s very rustic and delicious if made properly.
45. Rachan Ham
A traditional Rachan ham takes about six months to prepare, which is very costly and time-consuming. The pig is slaughtered, gutted and treated with boiling water. Then it’s cut into slices, salted and smoked.
Although it takes a lot of time to make, the result is mouthwatering. It’s often added into Lobiani or eaten on its own.
Colorful and fun, Tklapi is the traditional Georgian snacks.
Pureed fruit is dried and rolled up into pieces. You can have either sweet or sour Tklapi. The sour kind is made from plums, and the sweet ones are made of apricots or peaches.
Tklapi can also be used as a base for soups or stews.
When you’re walking around a local Georgian street, it’s hard not to see women selling colorful candles hanging out the side of the road. Except it’s not a candle but the Georgian traditional candy Churchkhela.
Churchkhela is a homemade Georgian candy, with grapes and nuts as its main ingredients. It is made with thickened grape juice with no added sugar, so you are sure to taste that tart flavor.
It’s a great snack when you come across it if you visit Georgia, or even as a gift for people back home!
This is another one of Georgia’s favorite dessert. Made with condensed grape juice, it uses cornflour to thicken the whole batter.
Quite simple to make, with just grapes and corn flour you can concoct this one at home. Garnish it with walnuts, and you’ve made an impressive Georgian dessert!
A bite-sized royal dessert that you can enjoy when you’re in Tbilisi, Kaklucha is specially concocted candied nuts that’s covered in caramel.
Healthy and straightforward, chiri is just a dried version of a variety of Georgian fruits. Mostly plums, apples, and figs.
Nazuki is a nutritious spiced bread that is sold by street vendors when you go around the Tbilisi streets. Contains cinnamon, vanilla, coriander, and cloves – the bread is a perfect filler in between meals.
Similar to Kaklucha, Gozinaki is caramelized nuts that are served exclusively on Christmas and New Year. According to tradition, it’s even considered as mandatory to be served during those times.
Mushmala is a very juicy persimmon colored fruit about the size of a walnut. The fruit has a dark shiny seed that looks like tiger jewel.
54. Melon, cherry, and peach muraba
Muraba is a preserve made with fruit and sugar that has a subtle flavor. It’s enhanced with spices and can be eaten as candies or used as decorations on cakes. The sweet is usually made in July and August when the fruit is in season.
Pakhlava is similar to baklava and is rich and sweet. It’s made of many layers of filo and filled with sweetened chopped nuts. Originated from Turkey, the sweet pastry is a staple in Georgia as well.
This popular pastry has two types – salty and sweet. The shapes also vary, from plain round kada to layered kada which is cut, and also small kada pies.
Wines, Spirits and Other Alcoholic Drinks
Pirosmani is semi-sweet white wine, and a must-have when you’re in Georgia because it has won much international wine tasting competition.
Alaznis is another white wine variety, but the difference is that it has a distinct floral aroma. It’s also a semi-sweet wine that you can enjoy with white meat.
Another award-winning wine, Akhasheni is a semi-sweet red wine that has a dark red color with chocolate flavor.
Saperavi is a red wine variety that has a beautiful sour taste with a floral aroma.
This one is a fortified white wine, that has a port wine flavor with a honey aroma — another award-winning wine from Georgia.
Qvevri wine is extraordinary because of the method it uses. Qvevri is served in a clay jar with a pointed end. Qvevri is buried underground, and the natural temperature will slowly turn the color of the wine into amber.
Chacha is a local Georgian pomace brandy that’s surprisingly smooth in flavor. Although it goes down easy and smooth, you need to be careful when consuming Chacha as it’s very potent. Drink wisely!
Raki is an unsweetened alcoholic drink that’s also popular in Turkey, Albania, and Greek islands. Raki is produced by distilling grape pomace and flavoring it with aniseed. Raki is usually mixed with water and has a milky color.
65. Tarragon lemonade
Georgian lemonade is different from others because it’s infused with tarragon. It’s a carbonated soft drink that Georgians adore and has a distinctive bright green color.
66. Lagidze Water
Lagidze water is made from soda and natural syrups. The drink is mixed in a soda fountain with a transparent compartment, making it pleasing to the eyes. You can’t help but order when you see one sold in the streets of Tbilisi!
67. Honey spirits
Honey spirits is a honey distillate made from may, forest, field, and alpine honey. It has a 40% alcohol content and should be served like whiskey and rum. The drink has a pleasant honey aroma, perfect for those looking for a smooth flavor.
Etno is apple brandy, with an alcohol content of 40%. It’s made by double distillation of cider and stored in oak barrels or glass vessels. It’s recommended to drink Etno warm, before or after dinner.
69 Mulberry and melon spirits
The melon spirits have a different process compared to other fruit spirits and often results in lower alcohol content but more flavor and aroma. The mulberry and melon spirits have 40% alcohol content and rich aroma. It’s very soft to drink, so you need to be careful and count your glasses.
A Georgian Gin made with local juniper from the village of Shkivana in the Racha region of Georgia. It’s characterized with juniper and lemongrass aroma, with the dry taste of citrus, pepper, and grapefruit.
Where to Get Georgian Food
Several of these dishes are simple enough that you can make them at home.
Cheese dishes, such as Khachapuri and Pkhovani can be made with simple recipes of bread and cheese or Gebzhalia with just mint leaves and cottage cheese.
Vegetarian dishes like Badrijani, Lobio, and Pkhali can also be made easily with ingredients that are widely available for you anywhere.
You can also try making Chakapuli, Chashushuli or Khinkali if you want the meat variety – as they’re mostly just meat that you cook slowly in a stew with different spices and herbs.
But when it comes to sweets and fruits, or traditional recipes that require long preparations such as Achma or Kupati, we recommend you try the authentic versions by going to Georgian restaurants near you.
Believe it or not, there are quite a lot of Georgian restaurants in New York, London, and California that are authentic enough according to reviews. This might be because Georgian food isn’t that well known yet, so most Georgian restaurants are owned by natives.
A quick search would garner you many authentic Georgian restaurants, both affordable or the upscale variety.
The ultimate experience would be to visit Tbilisi and taste the Georgian food at its freshest. You can screen the street vendors for traditional sweets or go to fine dining restaurants to get a perfect shot of your Khachapuri while sipping your beautiful fortified white wine.