What is Khachapuri?
Bread and cheese. These two ingredients seem to always go together: whether it’s a grilled cheese sandwich or just cheese on toast. While these dishes are easy to cook and can serve as a snack or breakfast throughout many western countries, in Georgia, bread and cheese cooked together in a special way has a much larger cultural significance and is proudly referred to as “Khachapuri”. It is difficult to pronounce, hard to eat it in one sitting if you are not trained for the task, and enormously tough not to desire one everyday.
What exactly is it? The word “Khachapuri” literally means “curd cheese” (Khacho) and “bread” (Puri) and signifies its main ingredients: yeast or Georgian yogurt (matsoni) bread and Suluguni or Imeretian cheese.
“Cheese bread” sounds simple, and it was like this as far back as the 11th century, when khachapuri supposedly was created by shepherds. To minimize their weight on their long treks to the summer pastures in the mountain regions of Western Georgia they came up with the recipe of a nourishing meal that required only salt and flour to carry. Their herd provided them with the rest: Imeretian cheese and yogurt.
It is one of the legends how khachapuri became a dish of Georgian cuisine. And even though nobody knows which legend is genuine, it is now known for sure that khachapuri is considered a intangible cultural heritage monument and Georgia obtained a patent on “Khachapuri” to protect its trade name.
The Georgian cheese “suluguni” that is also used for the dish nowadays is protected by a geographical indication in Georgia which means it has a unique taste and can´t be replicated outside of Georgia. Is there any doubt left that the authentic khachapuri can be tried only in Georgia and nowhere else?
On every menu in every restaurant you will find an entire page dedicated to khachapuri. Centuries passed while one recipe spread through the country. Now it is more like “to each region their own khachapuri”. A food hedonist, while trying different khachapuris, can also improve their geographical knowledge, as the names of the different types are usually named after the Georgian regions.
Even with the same ingredients, there are still many nuances that led to a variety of Georgian cheese bread types. Different ways how to make dough (with or without eggs, with yeast or maconi), oven-baked, pan-fried or even cooked on a stick techniques, round- or boat-shaped khachapuri won’t make you bored when you have to order again. There is always a choice!
Among all the types of khachapuri we recommend you to remember the difference between the three most popular types: Imeruli, Megruli, Acharuli.
- Imeruli khachapuri, comes from the Imereti region (western Georgia). Traditionally it is maconi-based dough and Imeretian cheese (Imeruli) used as a stuffing. Imeruli is considered the most traditional type of khachapuri.
- If one layer of cheese is not enough for you then try Megrelian/Megruli khachapuri, from the region of Samegrelo. For cooking Megruli they use both Imeretian cheese and Suluguni. Melted Cheese inside, slightly crusty cheese on top, and greased with eggs, it even sounds mouth-watering!
- Acharuli Khachapuri is a cheese boat with a sunny-side up egg on top that comes from the region of Ajaria. The legend says Acharuli was created by sailors: a boat shape is referred to the coastal location of the region, and the egg represents the sunset sun.
There’s a certain way to eat an Acharuli, start with the bow of the boat, break the dough and use this piece to mix cheese, butter and an egg, then keep breaking ”the edges of the boat”, putting the dough in the mixed cheese. Try to eat it all!
In Svaneti, the northwestern part of Georgia, the Svans, an indigenous group of that region, cook Kubdari – a khachapuri with chopped meat and spices instead of cheese.
Even though khachapuri types come from different regions and you are probably not going to visit all of them, there are a lot of places in Tbilisi where you can try each type of khachapuri.
We recommend our favorite places in Tbilisi:
- Puri Guiliani, Mtatsminda plateau, 0114 Tbilisi, Georgia
- Lolita, 7, Tamar Chovelidze St, Tbilisi, Georgia
- Sakhachapure #1, 5 Shota Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi 0108, Georgia
- Orangery, Vake Park, Tbilisi 0162, Georgia.
- Salobie Bia, 14 Ivane Machabeli St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Before you run right over there, let us give you a little reminder: to show some respect and to impress the Georgian people remain the cutlery on your table clean, as khachapuri must be eaten with hands.
გაამოთ (gaamot)! Bon appetit!
If you want to have a great company for your gastro adventures in Tbilisi join us on a day tour Taste of Tbilisi!