Cuisines of Fshav-Khevsureti
PSHAVI-KHEVSURETI REGIONAL CUISINE
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 here.
Places to visit
Shatili is a unique monument of Georgian architecture. This mountain village was home and fortress at the same time, and has guarded Georgia’s north-eastern borders throughout the centuries. Shatili was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Near the village of Lebaiskari stands the tower of the same name. It dates from the middle ages and is a fine example of the building skills of the mountain people. Inside, its five storeys are connected by movable, wooden stairs. The overall shape is pyramidal, the ground floor served as stable and storage, the top floor has a dome, and four small balconies run around the tower.
Mutso towers The village of Mutso was abandoned more than a century ago but four towers and ruins of residential buildings still stand, 1880 m above sea level. Among them is the Torgva Dzagani tower with which many legends are connected. A rehabilitation project has been underway since 2004. Nature in this region is rugged, beautiful and unspoilt.
Legends of mountain people with unique strength and skills abound around Mutso and Ardoti. In 1904 for example, during the Russo-Japanese War, a master of khridoli (traditional sword and buckler fencing from these mountains) is said to have done away with 100 samurai fighters on the island of Sakhalin before he himself was shot in the back.
The Anatori crypts are located three km from Shatili and are what remains of communal tombs connected with outbreaks of the plague. It is said that infected villagers would come here voluntarily to avoid spreading the disease.
Dishes to savour
khinkali is a pocket-like dumpling with a distinctive folded appearance. Local appreciation standards say: the more folds, the tastier. Traditionally it is filled with meat in a flavourful broth but potato, cottage cheese or mushroom may also be used. Finer
distinctions come with the place of origin, such as mokheuri or mtiuluri (from Mokhevi or
Mtiuleti). It is traditionally accompanied by beer or vodka.
qaurma heart or liver from local cattle (goat or beef) stewed in a herb sauce
chimuri a corn patty fried in butter khavitsi a butter, flour and sugar confection mkhlovana a khachapuri stuffed with local herbs
The most common drinks in the eastern highlands are beer and vodka. The beer (ludi) is made from barley and the vodka--the local variety is known as chipitauri--is distilled from a variety of fruits.
Note: price depends on type of accommodation and number of persons
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.
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.
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.