Hero photo by Casal Partiu CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Flickr
I’m no expert, but being the second time in Sakartvelo I can tell about the main dishes at least to give some basics of dishes I tried.
Khinkali – at least from my own experience, this is the tourist favorite. Everyone seems to know them and tell friends to try it out. Khinkali is basically a big local dumpling. All you need to is to be sure not to eat all of it and leave the top, which is there to hold it with your hand while you eat it. Khinkali is probably the cheapest way to get your stomach full as one khinkali usually costs around 0,7 GEL. Most of the time, you can get them with various meats, mushrooms or cheese. In some places, they don’t sell less than a certain amount so might need a friend to finish it.
Kharcho – I’m not sure, but it seems like thelocals really love it and it is one of those Georgina dishes I find abroad. It is a soup, but a soup which could be enough to make you feel really full. Unless you are really hungry think twice before ordering a second dish. Kharcho is a spicy soup with meat and other stuff inside of it.
Khachapuri – originally a bread with an egg on it, there is plenty of variations, a good dish with any soup or just as an easy snack, or starter.
Kebab – if you want a kebab you get in your western home country, don’t take it. The kebab you’ll find in Georgia is basically a piece of meat. If you want meat, it might be even a better choice than shashlik. Just be sure to take some salads with it to help your digestion. Georgian vegetables, especially tomatoes and cucumbers, still have their original taste and are really delicious.
Puri – Georgian bread, you won’t dodge traveling Sakartvelo without trying this out. Sometimes it is free, sometimes it will cost you a GEL or two.
Jonjoli – picked sprout which looks kind of strange, but tastes similar to green olives and actually is really nice to eat together with meat.
Chikhirtma – Chicken broth with some chicken inside of it. Haven’t tried it, but when my friends got it, it looked fcking huuuge.
Lobio – a stew out of beans, onions, and herbs. A good side dish.
Chakapuli – originally a stew full of herbs, white wine, and lamb. The only one I tried was soup-like and with veal. It was actually really good. Personally, I prefer it over even kharcho. Just when eating soups in Sakartvelo be ready to find a lot of meat and often it comes with bones.
Churchkhela – a local sweet, good as a souvenir, or as an energy bar for hikers or mountain climbers. It doesn’t weight much, but it provides a lot of energy without any sugar included into production. Churchkhela is made from various nuts and sometimes dried fruits, thickened by grape juice. It originated in Kakheti region of Georgia, the renowned motherland of wine.
Chkmeruli – my personal favorite one. It is a chicken, often whole chicken, in a garlic creamy sauce. It has a different taste from everything else because it comes without coriander, which seems to be the taste of every other dish in Sakartvelo. Just be sure not to order chick, it will be basically the sauce without any meat.
Tomato Cucumber salads – get it everywhere, it is cheap and Georgian meals are served usually without vegetables, so be sure to eat some with your meat.
And of course, there is plenty more, it was hard to taste everything, even during two of my visits. Well, maybe next time.
Being starved to exhaustion, we order too much. If you travel around Georgia during the hot days it is easy to get exhausted and with prices as low as they are in this country it is easy to order too much. If possible, try to share the dishes with your friends, in this way you’ll be able to try what you want and not waste too much of food or money.