Discover the Kakhetian Cuisine
31 August, 2018
Discover the Kakhetian Cuisine
Autumn is just around the corner and thus the time of harvest is getting closer, especially of grapes. In Georgia grapes are harvested between late August and the middle of November. There is no set date when the harvest will actually commence. The main thing is not to miss the precise moment when the grapes are full of miraculous nectar and not let them get over ripe and even worse, to wither. The process of grape gathering is called Rtveli in
Georgia and mainly takes place in the Kakheti region, located in the eastern part of Georgia.

Rtveli is a traditional vintage and rural harvest holiday in Georgia accompanied by feasts, musical events and other celebrations. The tradition of Rtveli dates back to ancient times, having its roots in the festivity of mid-Autumn abundance and variety. It is a big occasion in Georgia when the whole nation comes together to honor ancient traditions of winemaking.

Rtveli usually lasts for several days, with people starting work in the early morning hours and ending the day with a feast to the accompaniment of vintage-themed folk songs.
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Grapes harvested during Rtveli

Rtveli is an amazing event that will involve you initimately in the Kakhetian way of life. Getting closer to native Kakhetians, eating a juicy grape, drinking one of the best wines in the world, living a life of a peasant but at the same time enjoying-it is part of the Rtveli.

Interested travellers can easily find harvest gatherings, wine and gastronomic tours in Kakheti, where you can take part in Rtveli, make wine yourself and taste local cuisine.
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Feast after gathering the grapes

Kakhetian cuisine is known to be simple and hearty, consisting mainly of roasted / boiled meat and basic salads – peasant food that nourishes the body after a long day working in the fields.

Below you can find the list of the most popular Kakhetian dishes.

Kakhetian Mtsvadi
is a barbecued meat on a stick but with a difference - the stick is from a grapevine and gives a distinctive flavour. Properly made mtsvadi is an extraordinary dish. Preparing it is an entire ritual. Mtsvadi made outdoors, on an open fire is very special and completely different from that made at home using a frying pan or an electric cooker. This is in the Georgian genes. We have enjoyed it since ancient times and mtsvadi is subconsciously bound to our distant ancestors’ ritual of roasting meat over a fire after a hunt. By the way, it is known that Erekle ll, one of Georgia’s greatest kings, was especially fond of eating mtsvadi in the mountains.
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Kakhetian Mtsvadi

Mtsvadi can be made with pork, mutton or veal. Beef should be used only if all other options are unavailable. Marinating the meat in pomegranate juice before roasting makes it especially tender, juicy and delicious.

Khashlama is boiled meat with greens, spices and local vegetables, topped with fresh herbs. In Kakheti this would be made with veal, in Tusheti with lamb.
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Khashlama, traditional Kakhetian dish

Chakapuli is a traditional Georgian dish made with a beef or lamb stewed in white wine, with sour plums, tarragon, leaf coriander and spices. Often it is served during the feast of Orthodox Easter. This is frequently called a seasonal, spring stew with the main ingredient of tarragon to make Chakapuli spicier.
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Chakapuli , Georgian seasonal dish

Chikhirtma is a broth that is a favourite family meal (or hangover cure) made from chicken. Eggs are skillfully incorporated into the broth and fresh leaf coriander added as a finish. The soup has a slightly sour taste and a cream-like consistency. Chikhirtma is described as a soup almost completely without a vegetable base. Usually it is consumed hot.
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Chikhirtma, Georgians' famous hangover cure

Ghandzili is an Alpine leek, which can be found in early spring. The plant is widespread in the Caucasus region.Its salad is very popular in Kakheti region. Folks mainly eat it boiledor pickled.
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Ghandzili, Photo courtesy: http://4travel.ge

Kakhetian shoti is a Georgian type of bread, which is made in Toné (a round stone oven whose walls serve as baking surface) usually. It is long and semilunar shape bread. It is sometimes called “Shotis puri”, which means “Shoti bread” in English.

You can find the real Shoti bread in Kakheti. The Kakhetian Shoti breads are like swords and they are pretty white and the edges are pretty crispy.
The name “Shoti” must be related to a pagan God, perhaps to the Moon and that is why it has that semilunar shape. There are writings, where they say, that the Shoti breads were one of those things, which people gave to God as their tribute to him.  Shoti bread was considered to be the festive bread.
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Kakhetian shoti

Churchkhela is a type of Georgian candy shaped like a sausage made from natural grape juice and different kinds of nuts. This candy is usually prepared during the harvest season in autumn for Christmas holidays. Churchkhela is extremely delicious and energizing. It is a well-known fact that Georgian soldiers used to consume them when they went to the battle.

As the local Kakhetians say the best variety of grapes to make churchkhela from, is Rkatsiteli. It gives churchkhela a reddish tint. The traditional technology of churchkhela in the Kakheti region was inscribed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia list in 2015.
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Churchkhela, traditional Georgian candy

Tatara is grape juice thickened with flour. It is a favorite Georgian dessert made mainly with pressed, condensed grape juice (badagi). Tatara can be made with wheat flour (mainly in the Kakheti region) or corn flour (in the western part of Georgia, which is called pelamushi). Tatara is usually suitable for making churchkhela.
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Tatara, Georgian dessert

Guda is a sheep’s milk cheese whose quality is determined by where the ewes were pastured. Historically guda is aged in sheepskin which keeps the cheese at the ideal temperature and degree of moisture. Nowadays, unless the cheese is made for home consumption, it is aged in a plastic container.
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Guda Cheese

Related stories:

Where to go in the autumn in Georgia?

Discover must see places in Kakheti

Georgia should be at the top of every travel destination list – says German photographer about Georgia

Galt and Taggart - Tourism Boom Continues in Georgia




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