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  • Kati and Roger

Georgian Khinkali

Georgia is one of the most fascinating countries we've ever visited. A crossroads between Europe and Asia, Georgia has such a rich culture and interesting history. More posts about Georgia are to come, but this one will focus on one of my favorite parts of Georgia: khinkali.

A plate of khinkali as seen in a cozy Georgian restaurant.
A plate of khinkali in Sabatono, a cozy Tbilisi restaurant.

Khinkali are Georgian dumplings, instantly recognizable by their twisted tops. They are said to have been brought to Georgia by the Mongols' invasions during the 13th century, and it's possible that the etymology behind the dumplings' name even means "khan's head". However, khinkali is one of the most popular dishes in Georgia and is considered one of Georgia's national foods. And Georgians take great pride in their food. Georgian recipes have been handed down from many generations ago that have withstood not only time but also strict food standardization during harsh Soviet rule and the struggles of becoming free from the USSR. So to suggest that khinkali are not truly from Georgia.. let's just say it might make you unpopular there.

A plate of yummy khinkali.
Hands down the best khinkali we tried! From a restaurant at the foot of the mountain at the cave city Vardzia.

Khinkali can have many different fillings, like ground meat, tangy Imeretian cheese, potatoes, or mushrooms. They are all mouthwatering, trust me. But the khinkali that stole my heart are the kalakuri khinkali, made with ground beef and pork. The kalakuri style is said to be the "city" counterpart to the simpler mtiuluri of the mountains, the main difference being that the kalakuri dumplings include parsley and garlic. Yum.

Kati is enjoying a delicious khinkali dumpling in Sabatono.
I think my expression says it all.

These things are like little flavor bombs. To eat khinkali, you take one by its top (also known as a stem, knob, or handle) and flip it over. Take a bite out of the dough and slurp up the broth inside, careful not to miss a single drop. It truly is liquid gold. Then, munch away! The tops can be quite tough, so most people discard them, leaving behind a graveyard of little stems on the plate.

Seriously, I'm getting hungry just writing about them. I dream about these things. When we took a cheesy tourist picture in Tbilisi, the khinkali dumpling was my photoshoot prop of choice.

Kati and Roger are posing with giant khinkali with two students from the winter study abroad.
We just couldn't help ourselves.

Since traveling has been halted in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we've been doing a lot of daydreaming about our favorite places in the world... and our favorite foods. We decided to do some traveling in our kitchen instead and take a shot at making these legendary dumplings, armed with Tasting Georgia by Carla Capalbo.

Kati is watching over a boiling pot of khinkali.

And of course, no Georgian meal would be complete without wine. Georgia is even said to be the birthplace of wine! More on that in another post.

A bottle of Georgian wine in front of a plate of khinkali.
This wine is from a qvevri, large clay pots traditionally used to make Georgian wine.

They were pretty good. They weren't quite as amazing as the piping hot dumplings piled high in a cozy pub... but they were pretty darn good.

We can't wait until we can return to Georgia, and we're excited to write some more about the enchanting country soon. Until then, cheers :)

"Every Georgian dish is a poem." - Alexander Pushkin, 18th century Russian poet

Roger and Kati holding glasses of Saperavi Georgian wine.
Georgian cheers, Gaumarjos!

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