Khachapuri, Georgia’s addictive cousin to pizza - BBC
21 November, 2017
Khachapuri, Georgia’s addictive cousin to pizza - BBC
Traditional Georgian cheese bread Khachapuri has been spotlighted by BBC. The famous Georgian dish was coined as “Georgia’s addictive cousin to pizza” by BBC.

As the world’s leading edition tells, most bakers believe that Khachapuri can only be made properly by happy people. “If you’re in a bad mood or sad… you should never even touch dough” – the article reads.
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Khachapuri – a gooey, addictive, cheese-stuffed flatbread – is beloved in Georgia (Credit: Wingedbull/Alamy)

According to
the author of the article, David Farley, he was doubtful about the connection between human emotions and cheese bread. His friend, Mako Kavtaradze, a born-and-bred resident of the capital, Tbilisi, and executive director of Georgian spice company Spy Recipe, took him in the kitchen of the restaurant when the Khachapuri was baked. “C’mon,” she said. “I’m going to show you the woman who made this, and I guarantee you she will be as happy as this khachapuri is delicious.”
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For khachapuri to be delicious it needs to be made by happy people (Credit: David Farley)

In the back of the kitchen, a rotund woman was sitting in a chair with a pile of freshly kneaded dough next to her, rolling balls of salty sulguni cheese(Georgian milky soft cheese) for khachapuri. She looked up and flashed a large smile at two strangers who probably shouldn’t have just barged into her work space. “See,” Kavtaradze said. “She’s happy.”

The author of the article calls Khachapuri “the perfect comfort food” and once again highlights the famous fact that 88% of Georgians still prefer it to pizza. It is quite natural as long as the cheese bread is one of the most appreciated and loved dishes throughout the whole country.
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From a distance, Khachapuri resembles pizza bianca (Credit: Igor Golovnov/Alamy)

Despite khachapuri’s importance to Georgian cuisine, however, food scholars and historians can’t seem to agree on its origins. But according to Dali Tsatava, food writer and former professor of gastronomy at the Georgian Culinary Academy in Tbilisi, khachapuri could be a cousin to pizza.

“Roman soldiers were coming through the Black Sea area and brought with them recipes for something that resembled pizza,” she said as we sat in a cafe in central Tbilisi. “Tomatoes didn’t exist in Europe until the 16th Century, so it was just baked bread and cheese, not unlike khachapuri.” – Dali Tsaava told BBC.

David Farley primarily tried the most popular type of Khachapuri, Imeruli (from the region of Imereti), which reminded him of a pizza bianca.

“But during my week there, I also sampled kubdari at Aripana in Tbilisi, a meat-stuffed version from the Svaneti region; gorged on Megruli khachapuri from the Samegrelo region, which is filled with cheese (like Imeruli khachapuri) and then topped with more melted cheese; and devoured a version stuffed with spinach and potato puree called Khabidzgina khachapuri. It all became a delicious daze of baked bread and cheese made by apparently happy and satisfied Georgians.” – the author of the article tells.

Meanwhile, BBC Travel Writer visited Sakhachapuren No 1, a subterranean spot in central Tbilisi where chef Maka Chikhiashvili taught him how to make a version called Adjaruli khachapuri (boat shaped cheese bread). It originates from Georgia’s incredibly beautiful region of Adjara, located in the country's southwestern corner.

According to Maka Chikhiashvili, Adjaruli khachapuri reflects the region’s geography and culture. “Adjara is on the Black Sea, and this is the reason the bread is in the shape of a boat. The egg represents the sun and the cheese is the sea. The people of this region were great boat builders.” – she told BBC.
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Adjaruli khachapuri is shaped to look like a boat (ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy)

Here is how the author of the article describes the process of baking Adjaruli Khachapuri:

“A few seconds later it was my turn. I took a deep breath and tried to get in touch with my inner tranquillity. I began flattening it out and remembered I needed to talk to it, reminding myself to think of the dough as a baby. “You’re such a good piece of dough,” I said. Everyone in the kitchen nodded in approval. “Who’s a good dough? That’s right; you are!” Eventually I formed the dough into an oval and then tapered both ends. The chef lent a hand to get it into the right shape.

With a long pizza peel, I deposited the flatbreads into the oven. The chef held up five fingers for the number of minutes it should bake for. In the meantime, Chikhiashvili elaborated on the care needed to make khachapuri: “We have five women making our dough and khachapuri here,” she said. “If one or two of them to come to work in a bad mood, they are put on another duty. The dough will be too heavy and not soft or as elastic as it should be.”
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The egg represents the sun and the cheese is the sea in Adjaruli khachapuri (Credit: Krasnevsky/Alamy)

A few minutes later, we were scraping the excess dough from the inside of the partially baked boat, creating a kind of interior rim around the edges. Then we added the cheese, making sure it was nearly overflowing. After going back in the oven for about four more minutes, the only thing left to do was crack a raw egg on top, add a plus-sized dollop of butter, stir it in, and commence eating one of the most delicious things on the planet.

I tore off a piece of the crunchy bread, starting with one of the tapered ends, dipped it into the eggy, buttery, utterly gooey cheese, and took a bite.
I looked at the chef and said, “You must be a very happy person.”

Related stories:

Culinary map of Georgian cuisine – Top dishes to try in each region

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Adjaruli Khachapuri featured on Tastemade

Georgian khachapuri named the best cheese pizza by Forbes
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