Georgian Meat Dishes
Georgians love their food almost as much as wine, and at the center of most national dishes are flavorful chunks of pork, beef or mutton that have been cooked using tried-and-true methods and seasoned to perfection. While too numerous to mention them all here, be on the lookout for these local favorites during your next tour of Georgia:
Mtsvadi is the local version of a kebab and one of the most popular Georgian meat dishes. As in most countries in the region, grilled meat on the skewer is quite popular in Georgia. Traditional mtsvadi is usually made with fresh pork and prepared without the use of any special marinade. Only salt is added to the meat, a method which helps the meat to retain its own, natural flavor and distinguish it from other kebabs. The best mtsvadi can be found in the Kakheti Region of Georgia.
Kababi, similar to the famous Asian lula kebab, is comprised of ground meat grilled on a skewer. Georgian kababi are unique, however, in that they are very rarely made with mutton. While Georgians prefer ground beef kababi, they will occasionally eat it with pork.
Kupati is one of the most beloved Georgian pork dishes, a homemade sausage of pork and spices that is native to western Georgia. Kupati is typically fried in a traditional Georgian clay pan known as ketsi.
Kuchmachi, another traditional dish of western Georgia, is made with the liver and gizzards of chickens, cows or pigs. Other essential ingredients are ground walnuts, spices and pomegranate seeds. Kuchmachi in Samegrelo Region is served as a hot dish cooked in ketsi pans. However, in other parts of Georgia it is quite popular to serve kuchmachi in cold form as an appetizer.
Khashlama is boiled chunks of beef, but like many Georgian food recipes, is prepared with a twist according to an age-old method: When making khashlama, the water which is initially used for boiling is changed in the middle of the cooking process, and bullion, salt, onion, black pepper seeds, garlic and bay leaves are added for extra flavor.
Khinkali is a traditional Georgian dumpling that originated in the high mountainous regions of Tusheti, Pshavi, Khevi and Khevsureti. Perhaps the most well-known of all Georgian meat dishes, at first glance khinkali may resemble ordinary dumplings from other countries in the region (e.g. Chinese xiaolongbao, Turkic manti, Russian pelmeni). However, khinkali has a different shape and filling. Its round, wrinkly form recalls images of the sun, one of the main symbols in Georgian mythology. Khinkali are traditionally stuffed with a combination of chopped beef, mutton or pork and seasoned with salt, caraway and water. Modern variations of khinkali, called kalakuri, are filled with minced pork and beef and mixed with onions, ground red pepper, parsley, coriander and the like. While the contents may vary, the distinguishing feature of every true khinkali recipe is that the filling must always be juicy.