The food never occurred to me. My intention was to escape punk ass Turkey and move to the closest country where my visa would go far. Didn’t really think about Georgian food. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the food is freaking DELICIOUS!!!!! OMG!!!! I can eat Georgian salad and khinkali every day.
Plus, even though meat is favored quite a bit here, don’t fret my vegetarians and vegans…There’s a lot for you. I’m not sure why the few vegan restaurants here want to charge a ridiculous amount for vegetables and grains, stewed or pureed on a plate. Beats me. I highly advise sticking with Georgian food to save money if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. It’s 2021 and people will understand.
Here are a few useful phrases while you’re out:
Me vegani var. – I’m vegan.
Tskhoveluri p’rodukt’ebis gareshe, gtkhovt.- No animal products please.
Me var veget’arianeli. I’m vegetarian.
Glut’enis gareshe gtkhovt. – Gluten free please. –Good luck with this one as most people don’t understand what it means. I’ve only seen gluten free on occasion at Carrefour or those expensive vegan/vegetarian restaurants with mini groceries.
Tu mk’vdaria da chems tepshzea, shevch’am. – If it’s dead and on my plate, I’ll eat it.
Now let’s get to the food tried and loved…
- khinkali (vegetarian, meat)
Khinkali was a food sent from heaven to fill your stomach with dumpling goodness. Not all khinkali is created equal. There’s much debate over which restaurants serve the best, so do your research once you get to Tbilisi. One dumpling is the size of half your hand and heavy. You can find mushroom, cheese, and meat versions.
There’s a certain way to eat them, so you don’t stand out like a dumb ass, but I leave that to you to figure it out. FYI- If you’re using a knife and fork then you’ve got no clue.
2. Salati Nigvzit, Georgian salad (100% vegan, vegetarian)
This simple salad makes a big impression. It consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, thinly sliced onions with a creamy walnut dressing. They may use Georgian curry aka khmeli suneli instead of the walnut dressing.
If you’re watching calories, you can ask for the dressing on the side and use it sparingly. If you want it to be extra filling then order some imeruli cheese from the Imeruli region) and add it in. Yummy!
3. Nigvziani Badrijani eggplant rolls (vegan, vegetarian)
This is 100% vegan and…
I ordered this by accident at the local restaurant and fell in love. Melt in your mouth tender eggplant rolls with a walnut filling.
4. Lobio (100%vegan, vegetarian) served in a clay pot
Think of lobio as Georgia’s version of Mexico’s frijoles fritos and you’re not far off. The stew consists of mashed red kidney beans mixed with an array of aromatic herbs and spices.
This might be served as a garnish, but you can certainly have it on it’s own. Don’t forget some tasty Georgian bread and a glass of red wine!
5. Qababi (meat)
The Georgian kebab. So…How does it differ from it’s famous Turkish counterpart? Pork is sometimes mixed with the beef and placed on long skewers. Usually served in a flat bread from Armenia called lavash. Yummy!
6. Ajapsandali (100% vegan, vegetarian)
The only dish I can compare this to is ratatouille, but it’s on a completely different level. It’s an eggplant stew with bell peppers, zucchini, bulgur, tomatoes, carrots with lots of spices. There are options with meat available.
7. Ostri (meat)
It’s called a spicy beef tomato stew, and it’s loved by many. If you want a comparison then think of it as Georgia’s ropas viejas…the popular Cuban dish. I’ve been told it’s not actually spicy, so you might want to add some peppers to it.
8. Georgian sauces (100% vegan)
Satsebeli. Red Ajika. Satsivi. Tkemali. Spicy tomato sauce. Chili sauce. Walnut sauce. Sour plum sauce.
You’ll see them in every supermarket. Some of them will be presented with your food. Try them all.
What other foods would you add to this list?
Remember to be kind to one another. This can be a difficult time of year for a lot of people. If you’re traveling and far away from family or have no family then make a list of what you’re grateful for. Enjoy your own company or that of some friends. Please check out my post on maintaining mental health abroad.
See ya next week!