Cuisines of Meskheti and Kartli
MESKHETI AND KARTLI CULINARY TOUR
Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli (Lower Kartli) are located in the Lesser Caucasus mountain range. Elsewhere in southern Georgia the soil is of volcanic origin with semi-volcanic lakes scattered in the valleys. The cuisine, not unexpectedly, is just as different. Kartlian cuisine is dominated by vegetables and soups, Meskheti is famous for its breads and cheeses.
Places to visit
Tsalka is an administrative centre on the bank of the river Khrami, 1460 m above sea level. The Tsalka plateau is a favourite bird watching site and the grasslands support beekeeping as well. In 1930 tumuli from the Trialeti culture (second millennium BC) were discovered. The windswept beauty of the landscape is striking.
The town of Akhaltsikhe looks up at the medieval castle complex of Rabati. Nearby is an 18th-century mosque. The town’s history is marked by Mongol, Ottoman, and Russian occupations.
Zarzma Monastery Zarzma comprises a series of buildings which are dominated by a domed church and one of the largest bell towers in Georgia. The earliest church on the site was probably built in the 8th or 9th century. An active monastic community lives here today.
Sapara Monastery The monastery goes back at least as far as the 9th century. St Saba is the largest of the 12 churches in the complex. The 14th-century frescoes inside are of high quality.
Dishes to savour
The Kartli region is famous for its soup and vegetable dishes. The region yields abundant fruit which is used fresh, or dried for winter use.
cornelian cherry sauce A purée of cornels (Cornus Mas) mixed with herbs and spices
gholos Sorrel soup has a fresh acidic taste. It is prepared with whey and blended with egg and butter.
chakapuli A dish of lamb or veal stewed in white wine with liberal amounts of herbs and green sour plum. Chakapuli is often made in spring or served church holidays .
The diversity of Meskheti cuisine reflects its history. Meskhetians have preserved many of their national dishes but have also incorporated elements form occupying powers
such as the Turks. The region is well-known for its wheat. You can see, smell and taste the results of thousands of years of bread and cheese making.
meskhuri puri bread baked on the walls of a brick oven
duck dish Dried, salted duck is heated to render its fat. Onion and egg are added to the broth.
meskhuri khinkali a wheat flour dumpling stuffed with duck
apokhti this is khinkali made with chunks of beef or pork that were dried for keeping.
tatarboragi boiled dough with onions fried in butter.
lukhum a sweet fried in butter and covered with honey.
Meskhetian mushrooms are tasty and famous. They are fried in butter with spices.
milk korkoti wheat groats boiled in milk
UNESCO has added the ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using kvevri
(clay jars) to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
White wines from Chinuri and Goruli Mtsvane grapes, and red Tavkveri.
Day 1: Tour to Tsalka, master class in Adjarian cuisine and sampling, wine degustation, overnight in Akhaltsikhe
Day 2: Excursion to Akhaltsikhe, visit Rabati castle complex, Sapara and Zarzma monasteries, overnight in Akhaltsikhe
Day 3: Master class in Meskhetian cuisine, sampling, free time, overnight in Akhaltsikhe Day 4: Departure from Akhaltsikhe, degustation of mineral water in Borjomi, end of tour
Note: Price depends on type of accommodation type and number of persons.
Samegrelo contains the land of Colchis where the legendary king Aeëtes, son of Helios, ruled. It was also the homeland of Medea, with whose help Jason obtained the golden fleece. As for Svaneti, because of its isolation among some of the highest mountain peaks of the Greater Caucasus range, it preserves an unwritten language and aspects of culture that are pre-Christian. The medieval Svan towers rise from the rugged terrain like sentinels. Because Samegrelo and Svaneti are neighbouring regions--one on the coast at the foot of the mountains the other in them--their cuisines are similar to some degree yet remain distinct. An attentive gourmet will, for example, easily taste the difference between sulguni cheeses from these two regions.
In Adjara and Guria, mountains and sea combine to present a unique natural setting and a mild climate, which also determines their culinary output. Cooks make liberal use of local herbs and spices in vegetable and bean dishes, corn bread (mchadi) and the Adjarian sweets baklava and shakar lama. Plentiful dairy products and nuts are at hand for richer dishes.
This trip will take you to the cradle of wine production--Kakheti--where you will see the centuries-old, traditional way of making wine in vessels buried in the ground, and taste the product of some of Georgia’s more than 500 grape varieties. Sample shoti fresh out of the round stone oven or sweets as they are being made. In mountainous Tusheti--to some the most beautiful part of Georgia--you can taste the famous guda, a sheep’s milk cheese historically aged in sheepskin. In both Kakheti and Tusheti you may learn, hands on, to make local dishes.
The Pshavi-Khevsureti region has always played a big role in the life of the nation. In times of danger the population would gather the nation’s greatest treasures and run to the mountains. Mountain villages were strongly fortified, often with defensive towers which during time of peace were used for domestic activity. The best example of such a village is Shatili. The geographic location and the way of life in this region have given rise to a unique cuisine. One of Georgia’s most popular dishes, khinkali, originated
You will travel through the two most beautiful regions of Georgia, neighbours Imereti and Racha. Much as they resemble each other in natural conditions, their character and way of life are distinct. Most of Imereti is lowland except for the norhth where it borders on mountainous Racha. The two regions have overlapping culinary repertoire (corn based dishes and sauces with nuts) as well as fare typical of each.