Georgian cuisine

Georgian cuisine is very varied. In addition to its many famous meat dishes, there are also a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes. During Soviet times, Georgian cuisine was seen as the haute cuisine of the Soviet Union. During the 20th century, countless Georgian dishes found their way into the local cuisines of Soviet states and Eastern European countries.

Georgian banquet to celebrate the wine harvest (tweli). The painter Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918) often chose Georgian supras as motive for his paintings

Eating in Georgia can take the form of a big ceremony, and the traditional festive dinner supra is a remarkable experience for travelers. The country is also known for its mineral waters and for its wine: it has a long tradition of grape growing and considers itself the “cradle of viticulture”.

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Tonis puri: bread from a traditional stone oven (tone)

The dominant bread (პური, puri) type in Georgia is white bread. Dark bread is known as a “German specialty” and only occasionally available. In addition to the industrially made breads, there are some traditional variants to try out:

  • Tonis puri (თონის პური): This is a flatbread baked in a special stone oven, the tone (თონე), which is heated by electricity, gas or charcoal. The lens-shaped dough is placed on the hot stone for a few minutes and then removed using a long hook – which also creates the small hole in the middle of the bread. Tonis puri is can be eaten hot (fresh out of the oven), or cold. Almost any festive meal include cold tonis puri, as do many informal meals. Modern tone are made of concrete and they can be found everywhere both in the countryside and cities. In bigger cities, there can be several tones in a city block. These small bakeries are recognized by simple, handmade signs saying თონე and can be found in backyards or garages of city blocks. Some upscale restaurants also have their own tones, for instance Puris Sachli (“bread house”) in Tbilisi.
  • Shotis puri (შოთის პური): An elongated type of tonis puri, mostly eaten in Kakheti. Even Georgians don’t see any difference between these two breads other than their form.
  • Lavash (ლავაში): Very thin flatbread, not just a Georgian bread but common from Turkey to Central Asia and used for wrapping of kababi. Lavash is often baked in tones, and is most widespread in areas with Armenian or Azeri inhabitants.
  • Mchadi (მჭადი). Cornbread often eaten together with Lobio. A version with cheese mixed in the dough is called Chvishtari (ჭვიშტარი) (updated Nov 2020)
  • (Tarkhunis) Ghvezeli A quick snack, pastry stuffed with meat, potatoes, cheese or other ingredients, usually sold in markets and on the side of the street.
  • Nazuki A sweet and spicy bread with cinnamon, lemon curds and raisins. Commonly found in Shida Kartli, especially in Surami.

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