GEORGIAN CUISINE
Top five healthy ingredients found in Georgian Cuisine
21 March, 2017
Georgian cuisine is often hailed by food writers as one of the most appealing in the world, largely owing to the marriage of Eastern and Western influences in many dishes. Georgia is, after all, positioned in an idyllic position from the culinary perspective, with neighbours including Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey. Georgian cuisine therefore relies on Mediterranean and Near-East ingredients and given the country’s early adoption of Christianity, all types of meats make their way to the table. Fish, often
obtained from the Black Sea, meanwhile, ups the health factor of many popular dishes. Some of Georgia’s most famous dishes include churchkhela (the classic dessert which travellers sometimes mistake for sausages), chakapuli (a hearty lamb stew which is ideally accompanied by a glass or two of full-bodied red wine in the coldest months of the year) and khinkali (twisted dough filled with spicy meat). Georgian food is as good for you as it is delicious, however, and in this post we highlight just a few of this country’s healthiest produce:

Walnuts: This healthful food is a staple of Georgian cuisine; walnuts can be found in everything from churchkhela to chicken bazhe and vegetable pkhali. Georgians often use it in pulverised form to add texture and heartiness to soups and stews. Walnuts are a highly recommended food for hearth and general health, since they are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and L-arginine.

Pomegranates: This scarlet hued fruit is another popular ingredient in Georgian gastronomy and one dish it is often included in is salad; another is kuchmachi, made with beef or pork with ofal, as well as cumin, onions and pomegranate seeds. Pomegranates are antioxidants with powerful anti-viral properties. They also contain a wealth of vitamins, including A, C and E, as well as folic acid. Although wine and green tea are often touted for their high antioxidant content, pomegranates actually contain three times as many antioxidants as these superfoods.

• Aubergine/eggplant: This creamy vegetable is found in many dishes, including chanakhi, which is a clay pot-cooked lamb stew which also incudes eggplant, garlic, tomatoes and onions. Eggplants are an excellent source of Vitamins aB1 and B6, are they are also packed with antioxidants and fibre. They also contain a wealth of minerals including copper, manganese and magnesium. Aubergines are an ideal food to consume if you are on weight loss or maintenance regime, since they contain only 25 calories per 100 gram serving!

Wine: Georgia is known as one of the oldest wine producing countries in the word and its unique method (in which clay jars are used) was recognised by UNESCO. If you are offered a glass of wine by the locals, by all means, accept it! Not only is it considered poor manners to refuse wine, declining this hearty beverage could also mean foregoing its potent health benefits! Red wine is known to contain resveratrol – a powerful antioxidant which, studies have shown, decrease inflammation and promote heart health. Don’t go overboard with this ingredient, though, to avoid dependence. To obtain the maximum benefits from wine, keep your daily consumption to about five ounces (for women) or 10 ounces (for men). Expect to find wine not only in beverage form, but also as an added ingredients in dishes such as chakhokhbili, a meat casserole dish made with a delicious wine-tomato base.

Plums: Plums are consumed fresh and are a popular ingredient of sweets, but one of the most important roles they play is in kharcho, a traditional beef soup which also contains walnuts, rice and chopped herbs. Plums are used here in puree form, which lends the dish a slightly sweet flavour and smooth texture. Plums are rich in potassium (a mineral which can reduce the risk of stroke) and fibre (take plums in prune form for maximum benefit in this respect). They belong to a select group of fruits which are actually low on the glycemic index, meaning that they can help you manage your blood sugar levels.

We have mentioned just five of Georgia’s staple ingredients but there are so many more which make this cuisine so beneficial – olive oil, garlic, onions, and colourful fruits such as tangerines, figs and mulberries. If you hail from abroad, then try to cook one of the above-mentioned Georgian dishes at home. A word of advice, though, nothing quite beats a visit to this charming country, whose cultural heritage is as rich as its gastronomical one.

By Helen Young, a freelance writer from the UK: “Prior to working in writing I was employed in the healthcare sector for many years, and was lucky enough to have a very varied career that took in many aspects of helping people, particularly in matters relating to diet, nutrition and fitness. When I became a mother I think my perspective on life changed and I decided I wanted to put my energies into looking after my own family - so took to writing articles on the topics I knew about as a way to share my knowledge.”

Resources:

Withdrawal.net, Alcohol Addiction Withdrawal, accessed March, 2017.

Travelfoodanddrink.com, Khachapuri – National Dish of Georgia, accessed March, 2017.

Georgianjournal.ge, Top 10 Georgian Food and Drinks, accessed March, 2017.

Hansrossel.com, Wine Drinking, Tradition in Georgia, accessed March, 2017.

Cnn.com, Finding beauty and stiff drinks in a former Soviet republic, accessed March, 2017.



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