Cuisine & Wines

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Popular dishes

Georgian cuisine is probably the most important attraction of the country. Since the traditional Georgian feast is an integral element of culture, Georgian entertainment should match its high level. Georgians have managed to make their cuisine not only magically delicious but also bright, original, exquisite, unique and unforgettable. Therefore, Georgian cuisine absorbed the best culinary traditions of many people of Transcaucasia, Asia and the Black Sea coast. The western part of Georgia was affected by Turkish cuisine, the eastern – by Iranian. Therefore, in the western Georgia widespread are the corn flour flat cakes from– mchadi, while in the eastern Georgia people prefer white bread baked in huge clay jugs. The easterners use corn flour to cook thick mash – gomi – and eat it instead of bread with meat and vegetable dishes. Eastern Georgians cook mutton, use many animal fats along with the core Georgian meat – beef, while in the Western Georgia they eat much less meat and favor poultry – chicken and turkeys.

The main feature of Georgian cuisine is the presence of all kinds of meats (unlike in Moslem countries) – poultry, beef, mutton, and pork. Caucasian people love and can cook meat. Such dishes as shish kebab, satsvi, chickens tabaka, chikhirtma and chakhokhbili have long been rated as international. They are cooked in different countries of the world! The priority in Georgian cuisine is given to meat dishes. There are dozens of recipes!

Satsivi is a cold dish from poultry, chicken or turkey. The name of the dish comes from the original satsivi sauce served with fried chicken. The sauce has more than one and a half dozen varieties. It is prepared from the poultry broth with addition of various spices, seasonings and nuts.

Mtsvadi is a Georgian shish kebab. It is distinguished by special aroma and juiciness. It is cooked mainly from beef. There are three kinds of mtsvadi. The first is a shish kebab from a big chunk of fillet. Then there is a shish kebab from basturma – marinated meat. And finally – a shish kebab from mutton with eggplants. In latter case meat is placed into eggplants and then put onto skewer fried on a barbeque.

Khachapuri is a farinaceous meal with big amount of cheese. This national Georgian food is spread everywhere in the republic and is coke differently.

Outwardly khachapuri remind large curd tarts (closed and open) filled with cheeses and baked on cast-iron frying pans. The dough for khachapuri is necessarily needs matsoni (Georgian sour milk). As a result it turns out especially tender. Especially well-known are Adzharian khachapuri. They are made as little boats with an egg poured inside each. Khevsur khachapuri are stuffed with greens, and Rachin ones – with string beans.

Sauces

A distinctive feature of Georgian national cuisine is various sauces used to cook first and second courses. All the Georgian sauces are cooked from natural components: fresh vegetables, spices
as well as berry and fruit juices. Tomatoes, pepperidge, pomegranate, sloeberry, tkemali are also often used. The sauces are enriched with garlic, nuts and grape vinegar to enhance flavor and zest. It is impossible to imagine a Georgian dish without greens. They are enhanced by cilantro , sweet basil, tarragon, parsley, mother-of-thyme, dill and peppermint, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and all kinds of pepper loved by all Georgians Many recipes to cook sauces were passed on from generation to generation, and nowadays cooking of sauces is something like a ritual – a tribute to the traditions. Every sauce is inimitable in its own way, but the unique feature of Georgian cuisine is that every sauce may be used for cooking of several various dishes.

The majority of Georgian sauces are divided into berry-vegetable sauces and satay sauces. The berry-vegetable ones are sauces based on juices of various fruits and berries. Among them
can be mentioned prune sauce tkemali, comprising much pectins, tannins, vitamins improving digestion and metabolism. Thus the berry-vegetable sauces also include sloe, cornel, and tomato ones as well as tklapi sauce and, of course, satsebeli, the main Georgian sauce.

Satsebeli is translated from Georgian as “sauce”, so one can say that it is the base for almost all Georgian cuisine. Satsebeli is cooked from fresh tomatoes, flavored with cilantro and dill, the resulted mix is flavored with coriander, menthe pulegium, fenugreek and blue melilot; sweet basil, sweet marjoram, Spanish paprika can also be added to it.

Cheese

One more distinctive feature of Georgian cuisine is the use of plentiful of cheeses. The structure of cheeses there is very specific. In Georgia cheese is boiled in milk, fried on a spit, in a frying pan, soaked, crushed, flavored with oil and spices.

Nuts

It is impossible to imagine Georgian national cuisine without nuts, especially walnuts. They are permanent components of various sauces and seasonings, and also widely used in cooking of various dished from fish, meat and chicken; they are good for vegetable dishes. Nuts are an essential component for various soups and confectionery. It is impossible to imagine the Georgian table without them. One of the favorite Georgian dishes with nuts as the main ingredient is pkhali. This is one of traditional Georgian cold food. Another traditional dish, cooked from walnuts is flat candies in honey. The Georgians prepare these sweets on the first day of New Year. It is called kozinaki. The kozinaki cooking method is very interesting. The nuts are pan-fried to brown. Then honey and sugar, forewarmed in a saucepan, are flavored with nuts. All this is mixed then put on a panel and divided into arbitrary masses. This is the way how they prepare Georgian New Year’s sweets – kozinaki.

Spices

Spices are very important in Georgian cuisine. They are used all year round be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Depending on a season it can be parsley, fennel, ramson, mint, basil, savory, estragon and other greens. Not a single Georgian is prepared without spices. As a rule a sauce should include: tarragon, fennel, parsley, coriander, basil, mint– they also differ in fragrance. Other spices are no less popular: khmeli-suneli, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, red pepper and coriander.

Sweets

Traditionally the Georgians prefer fruits berries, nuts, wine or honey for dessert. There are practically no splits (“namtskhvary”) in traditional Georgian cuisine. In autumn and winter comfits and sun-dried fruits serve as dessert. The major part of Georgian sweets is nut-based. Whereas the other confectioneries, such as: halvahs, sweet pies, cake-bread with sweet stuffs are borrowed from national cuisines of other peoples. For instance, sweet pies are borrowed from Russian cuisine; they are baked from sandy paste and butter-based dough, whereas the stuff is jam with nuts, traditional for the Georgians.

Churchkhela is the best-known sweets among the traditional Georgian ones. These Georgian national sweetmeats are made of nuts beaded on a thread and cooked in flour-thickened grape juice. The best-known receipt of Churchkhela in Georgia is Kakhetian and Imeretian ones.

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Georgian Wine

Wine-growing and winemaking in Georgia is one of the ancient fields of agriculture. The Georgian winemaking history numbers several millennia. The Georgian grape breeds and wine varieties, made from them for many centuries are considered to be one of the best. Up to date Georgian wine-growers bred over 500 grape varieties.

Georgian wines are ones of most popular in the world, since they are made of top-quality grape variety, and the know-how, passed on from generation to generation, is kept in secret. Georgia produces a great number of wines: they are red and white wines of various Georgian brands as well as some champagne taps. Georgian wines feature subtle aroma and unique taste of freshly harvested grape.

For example, first class grape is used to make green wine “madjari”. Traditionally this wine should be drunk immediately as it is made, without waiting several years for it to age. Uniqueness of many Georgian wines depends on the place where they were made.

Every region of Georgia grows its own grape varieties that are why the wines have their own unique taste. As far as the oldest Georgian winemaking traditions concern, then one can mention Kakhetia there. Wine production in Kakhetia has a secular history. Among Kakhetian red wines the best-known are those made of grape varieties Saperavi and Kaberne, and among white wines are Rkatsiteli and Khikhvi.

Among Georgian sparkling wines one can mention Atenuri made of Chinuri and Gorouli Mivane grape varieties harvested from the ancient time in the Aten Gorge in Kartli. The Georgian west, such regions as Imeretia, Megrelia, Guria, Adjaria and Racha-Lechkhumi is famous for especially appreciable variety of vintage wine from grape varieties: alexandrouli, tsolikouri, tsulukidzis tetra, usakhelouri, odjaleshi, mudjuretuli, orbeluri.

Racha-Lechkhumi makes top-quality semi-sweet wine Saterne, and also table and sparkling wines. There, a small village of Khvanchkara makes one of best-known wines of Georgia with the same name. Another world’s famous Georgian wine is Odjaleshi, native to Megrelia. This wine rightly competes with the best French wines.

Winemaking in Georgia is an entire culture. Wine is made not only for sale. Many Georgian families make home wine which does not differ in taste from the best trade brands. Home wine is usually kept in kvevri, a huge earthenware shaped as a jug and dug in earth. Wine corkage and tasting are an important family’s event, accompanied by festivity.

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