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It appears that the internet suffers a lack of Georgian phrases beyond the basic “how are you?” or “my name is…” chitchat.

Here are some slightly higher-level phrases to help you in everyday life:

Transportation / Travel

გამიჩერეთ (gamicheret) stop for me (what you can say when you want to get off a marshutka)

ის ხვალ ჩამოვა (is xval chamova) He/she will arrive tomorrow.

იცი როდის გადის ავტობუსი? (itsi rodis gadis avtobusi?) Do you know when the bus leaves?

როდის ჩავალთ (rodis chavalt?) When will we be there?

რამდენ ხანში? (ramden xanshi?) How long will it take?

გინდათ ცოტა დავისვენოთ? (gindat tsot’a davisvenot?) Would you like to rest for a bit?

ეს რომელი სადგურია? (es romeli sadguria?) Which station is this?

რა მიდის ცენტრში (ra midis tsentrshi?) What [bus/marshutka] goes downtown?

ბილეთი რა ღირს? (bileti ra ghirs?) How much is a ticket?

დამელოდეთ (damelodet) Wait for me

Shopping

ეს/ის რა ღირს? (es/is ra ghirs?) How much does this/that cost?

იცი სად შეიძლება ვიყიდო…? (itsi sad sheidzleba viq’ido…?) Do you know where I can buy…?

იცი სად არის აქ მაღაზია? (itsi sad aris ak maghazia?) Do you know where there’s a store around here?

რამდენს ყიდულობ? (ramdens q’idulob?) How much are you buying?

ეს მინდა ვიყიდო (es minda viq’ido) I want to buy this

კიდევ რა გვჭირდება (kidev ra gvch’irdeba?) What else do we need?

რა გინდა იყიდო? (ra ginda iq’ido?) What do you want to buy?

Going out/making plans

ხვალ რას გავაკეთებთ? (xval ras gavaketebt?) What are we doing tomorrow?

მოდიხართ (modixart?) Are you coming?

წავიდეთ (ts’avidet) Let’s go

თავისუფალი ვარ (tavisupali var) I’m free

როდის ჩამოდის…? (rodis chamodis…?) When is (so-and-so) coming?

მშია (mshia) I’m hungry

საღამოს მე სტუმრები მყავს (saghamos me st’umrebi mq’avs) Tonight I have guests over

უნდა წავიდე (unda ts’avide) I should go

უკვე ვჭამე (ukve vch’ame) I already ate

ძალიან მინდა შენი ნახვა (dzalian minda sheni naxva) I really want to see you

სადილი გავაკეთებ (sadili gavak’eteb) I will make dinner

სად იყავით (sad iq’avit?) Where were you?

მალე მოვალ (male moval) I’ll be back soon

მადლობა, მეტი აღარ მინდა (madloba, met’i aghar minda) Thank you, I don’t want any more

რაც იქნება, იქნება (rats ikneba, ikneba) Whatever will be, will be

ცოტა ღვინო დავლიოთ (tsot’a ghvino davliot) Let’s have a little wine

დღეს დრო (არა) მაქვს (dghes dro (ara) makvs) Today I do (not) have time.

უკვე გვიან არის (ukve gvian aris) It’s already late

Feelings / States

(for these, put “var” on the end for “I am,” “xar” on the end for “you are,” etc.)

დაღლილი (daghlili) tired

ბედნიერი (bednieri) happy, fortunate

მაგარი (magari) lit. “solid”; in everyday speech means awesome or cool

დაკავებული (dak’avebuli) busy

Miscellaneous 

რას აკეთებ? (ras aketeb?) What are you doing? (can be rhetorical, as in shouted at terrible drivers or incompetent football players)

უკაცრავად (ukatsravad) Excuse me

არა უშავს (ara ushavs) I’m good / no worries (can be a response to “how are you doing?” or as a response to an apology)

გაიგე? (gaige?) Do you understand?

რა ვიცი? (ra vitsi?) What do I know? (curiously, this is a common response to “how are you?”)

ჩემი აზრით… (chemi azrit…) in my opinion…

წადი! (ts’adi!) Go away!

დროზე / ჩქარა! (droze / chkara!) Hurry up! (droze lit. “on time”)

გიჟი ხარ? (gizhi xar?) Are you crazy? (may be said to a cab driver who is ripping you off)

I have opened a new companion blog on this account–the Georgia Photo Philes.

While researching historic structures and landscapes for my work at ICOMOS here in Tbilisi, I was always frustrated by the lack of images online with accurate names, dates, and credits. There are tons of really interesting historic photos of Georgia/the Caucasus all over the internet–except that you can often only find a handful of them hidden away on abandoned academic webpages, a local NGO’s facebook account, or an old news story. On top of that, most of them are not captioned or cited, so you might not know where or when a certain photo was taken.

Portrait of a Cossack in Alexandropol by Dimitry Ermakov

Portrait of a Cossack in Alexandropol by Dimitry Ermakov

I hope this blog can address that in a small way, and allow those interested in regional history and culture to get an idea of what they’re looking at. Please send me a message if I make any mistakes attributing photos, so I can correct them.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some romantic places to go and things to do in Tbilisi, “the city that loves you”

Activities:

  • Sulfur baths (Abanotubani district). Book a private suite; things are steamy enough as it is, but it’s a good place to relax sans clothes.
  • Historic district walks (Sololaki, Ortachala, Mtatsminda, or Vera districts). Walk the quieter side-streets of Old Tbilisi–Odzelashvili, Chonkadzi, Barnovi, Vertskhli, or Asatiani. Neighborhoods like those around Gudiashvili Square and Betlemi Church in Sololaki are both quiet and architecturally interesting.
  • Try the wines at one of several “vinotheques” along Leselidze Street–tastings are usually affordable (under 20 GEL) but generous
  • Go shopping at Dry Bridge flea market, where you can find everything from antiques and the requisite Soviet kitsch to used books and pirated software.

Restaurants and Cafes:

  • Shavi Lomi (The Black Lion). 23 Amaglebi St., Sololaki district. Georgian, dinner.
  • Tartine. 22 Abashidze St. (Maidan Square), Sololaki district. French, lunch and/or drinks.
  • garden and terrace at O Moda Moda

    garden and terrace at O Moda Moda

    Il Garage. 26 Mosashvili St., Vake district. Italian, dinner.

  • Mandari. 11 Mosashvili St., Vake district. Georgian fusion, dinner.
  • O Moda Moda. 64 Barnovi St., Vere/Vake border. Georgian cafe, any meal.
  • Moulin Electrique. 28 Leselidze St., Sololaki district. Georgian cafe, lunch and/or drinks.
  • Gruzbek. Corner of Erekle II St. and Ivereli Lane, Sololaki district. Uzbek dinner.
  • Chaikhana. 14 Grisashvili St., Abanotubani district. Azerbaijani cafe, tea and snacks.
  • Luca Polare. Leselidze Street (Sololaki district), Pekini Street (Vake-Saburtalo district), Mrgvali Baghi Square (Vake district). Gelato/hot drinks, pastries.
  • Puris Sakhli. 7 Gorgasali St (Sololaki-Abanotubani district). Georgian, dinner.

Makeout spots:

The following scenic locations make nice settings in which to flout Tbilisi’s completely ineffective crackdown on PDA:

  • Metekhi platform (across the river, next to the statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali overlooking Maidan Square)
  • Betlemi platform garden (next to the churches directly below the Kartlis Deda statue)
  • Tbilisi Botanical gardens (up behind Asatiani Street and Narikala fortress), or the hills behind them (up Grisashvili and right on Mirza Shapi)
  • Narikala fortress (medieval fortification overlooking Sololaki district)
  • Kartlis Deda (Mother Georgia) platform (accessible as of summer 2012 by gondola, which runs fairly late)
  • 9 April Park and Aleksandrovi gardens (behind the National Gallery on Rustaveli)
anti-makeout sign on Metekhi platform. yeah, whatever

anti-makeout sign on Metekhi platform. yeah, whatever

Georgia Bucket List

It has come to my attention that I am now about halfway through my grant period here in Georgia, so I figured I need to start getting organized in terms of which places I should see before I go. Have I mentioned yet that domestic travel in Georgia is incredible? The variety of sites and climates, as well as affordability (you know, once you get here) are unsurpassed. The following is a bucket list of my personal must-see places to visit in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. There are several other places I am interested in, like Abkhazia (requires a fluent Russian speaker, and a male escort of you are a woman) and Racha (about which I know little aside from this awesome video), but don’t know if I’ll make it out there. But a year long grantee has no reason to miss the following amazing sites:

Gergeti Trinity Cathedral and Mt. Kazbegi

Gergeti Trinity Cathedral and Mt. Kazbegi

Kazbegi

  • When to go: spring, summer, early fall
  • When I went: August 2010
  • How to get there: marshutka (2.5 – 3 hours)
  • Length of visit: day trip
  • Attractions: Gergeti Trinity Church, Gergeti glacier, Juta Valley, hiking, mountain climbing (Mt. Kazbek)
  • Tips: On the way to Kazbegi you will pass through the small town of Pasanauri, which is famous for having the best khinkali in Georgia (they’re not exaggerating), so if you can, it’s well worth stopping for lunch or dinner on the way. There are many lookout spots where you can take panoramic photos on the way up, but the best one is not far from Jvari Pass (the highest point in the military highway), and features a now-decrepit mosaic monument to “Georgian-Russian Friendship,” commemorating the 1783 Treaty of Georgievsk.
Davit Gareja complex

Davit Gareja complex

Davit Gareja

  • When to go: spring, summer, fall
  • When I went: May 2013
  • How to get there: marshutka to Gardabani (1 hour), taxi to monastery site
  • Length of visit: day trip
  • Attractions: cave monasteries, desert sunset
entrance hall at the Stalin Museum in Gori

entrance hall at the Stalin Museum in Gori

Gori and Uplistsikhe

  • When to go: year round
  • When I went: August 2010, December 2012
  • How to get there: marshutka (1 hour)
  • Length of visit: day trip
  • Attractions: Stalin Museum and Birthplace, Goris Tsikhe (fortress), hiking to Gori Jvari (old church complex; site of pilgrimages on Giorgoba), Uplistsikhe (ancient abandoned city).
  • Tips: Uplistsikhe is a short distance from Gori, and you can either take a bus there from the main bus station, or take a taxi (about 10-15 lari).
Vardzia cave monastery

Vardzia cave monastery

Vardzia

  • When to go: spring, summer, fall
  • When I went: July 2010
  • How to get there: marshutka or taxi (50-130 lari) from Borjomi or Akhatsikhe
  • Length of visit: day trip (from Borjomi or Akhaltsikhe)
  • Attractions: Vardzia cave monastery (open 9am-5pm), hiking
Mestia in winter

Mestia in winter

Mestia

  • When to go: year round (skiing in winter, hiking in warmer seasons)
  • When I went: July 2010
  • How to get there: overnight train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi, marshutka or taxi from Zugdidi to Mestia (5 hours). There are also domestic flights from Tbilisi to Mestia, but they are unreliably scheduled.
  • Length of visit: 2-3 days
  • Attractions: hiking, skiing, Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography
Dmanisi promontory, with church complex and prehistoric archaeological site

Dmanisi promontory, with church complex and prehistoric archaeological site

Dmanisi

  • When to go: summer, early fall
  • When I went: July-August 2011
  • How to get there: marshutka to Borjomi (1.5 – 2 hours), taxi from Borjomi to Dmanisi
  • Length of visit: day trip
  • Attractions: hiking, Dmanisi archaeological site and park
Ushguli in early fall

Ushguli in early fall

Ushguli

  • When to go: late spring, summer, early fall
  • When I went: July 2010
  • How to get there: overnight train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi, marshutka or taxi from Zugdidi to Mestia (5 hours), marshutka or taxi to Ushguli (3 hours). There are also domestic flights from Tbilisi to Mestia, but they are unreliably scheduled.
  • Length of visit: 2-3 days
  • Attractions: horseback riding, hiking, mountain climbing, historic tower museum
  • Tips: While Mestia is now accessible in the winter, the mountain passes to Ushguli are usually impassable between November and March, so it is usually a good idea to visit in summer.
autumn colors in Shatili

autumn colors in Shatili

Shatili

  • When to go: summer, early fall
  • When I went: October 2012
  • How to get there: marshutka (5 hours)
  • Length of visit: 2 days
  • Attractions: Old Shatili, Mutso (clifftop fortress), Houses of the Dead, hiking.
panorama of Mtskheta

panorama of Mtskheta

Mtskheta

  • When to go: year round
  • When I went: June 2010, August 2011, November 2012, January 2013
  • How to get there: marshutka, group taxi (30-45 mins)
  • Length of visit: day trip
  • Attractions: Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Jvari Monastery
  • Tips: don’t eat in Mtskheta–the restaurants are not as good as the many roadside places between Mtskheta and Tbilisi
Bakuriani after a snowstorm

Bakuriani after a snowstorm

Bakuriani

  • When to go: winter
  • When I went: January 2013
  • How to get there: marshutka (2.5 – 4 hours)
  • Length of visit: 2-3 days
  • Attractions: skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing, ice skating, horseback riding, snowmobile rental.
view of Batumi from a hilltop church

view of Batumi from a hilltop church

Batumi

  • When to go: late spring, summer, early fall
  • How to get there: marshutka (7 hours), train (overnight–book ahead), domestic flight (Georgian Airways, twice a week)
  • Length of visit: 2-3 days
  • Attractions: beach bumming, shopping, clubbing
Riverside houses in Kutaisi

Riverside houses in Kutaisi

Kutaisi

  • When to go: spring, summer, fall
  • When I went: December 2012
  • How to get there: marshutka, group taxi (2-3 hours)
  • Length of visit: day trip or 2 days
  • Attractions: Sataplia Preserve (national park with preserved dinosaur footprints, underground caves, and beautiful views), Gelati Monastery (some of the most beautiful frescoes in Georgia), Bagrati Cathedral (controversially restored UNESCO world heritage site), new Parliament building.
  • Tips: the things to see around Kutaisi aren’t very close to one another, so it may be helpful to pay for a private driver once you arrive if you want to make it to several sites in a short period of time.
Chairlift in Gudauri

Chairlift in Gudauri

Gudauri

  • When to go: winter
  • When I went: January 2013
  • How to get there: marshutka (1.5 – 2 hours)
  • Length of visit: day trip or 2-3 days
  • Attractions: skiing
  • Tips: unlike Bakuriani, Gudauri doesn’t have much to do for non-skiers or boarders, but the slopes are very open and well-groomed for beginners. If you need ski instruction, Hostel Ski-Niki has a good package deal, with meals and professional instruction included in the cost of the hostel. On the way to Gudauri you will pass through the small town of Pasanauri, which is famous for having the best khinkali in Georgia (they’re not exaggerating), so if you can, it’s well worth stopping for lunch or dinner on the way.

Other runners-up:

Grape harvest (autumn) in Kakheti; summer hiking in Abastumani; dacha-chilling, river-swimming, and khinkali-gorging in Pasanauri.

Although it lacks the abundance of chaykhanas (tea houses) found in Azerbaijan, cafes and tea-drinking in general have long been a part of Georgian culture. It is unclear whether the drink was popularized in Georgia via Russian or Persian influence, but domestic tea cultivation did not begin until the 19th century. With an increasing amount produced locally (including GurieliKolkha, and the hilariously-named Elitist Georgian Tea), the curious history of Georgian tea culture merits some attention.

Soviet-era tea tins found at Dry Bridge market here in Tbilisi

Soviet-era tea tins found at Dry Bridge market here in Tbilisi

The first attempt at tea cultivation occurred after Prince Miha of the aristocratic Eristavi clan traveled across China in the 1820s, became quite taken with the various infusions of tea, and postulated that his home region had a climate similarly conducive to its production. In order to circumvent laws against the export of Chinese tea plants and seeds, Eristavi smuggled seeds out of the country in lengths of bamboo. The earliest plantations were established in the 1830s, but the resulting product was not popularized for several decades.

In a roundabout way, the Crimean War had perhaps the biggest hand in developing a Georgian tea industry. In 1854, an English military ship was wrecked off the Black Sea port of Poti, and its crew was taken hostage by the local garrison. One of the hostages, a Scottish officer named Jacob McNamara, married into the Georgian gentry and remained in the country. A true Scotsman, he missed the availability of tea and proposed increased production on the Eristavi estate in Ozurgeti and Chakvi. By 1864, “Caucasian tea” was presented at an international exhibition in St. Petersburg.

Later in the 19th century, Konstantin Popov, a wealthy merchant in charge of almost the entire Russian imperial tea trade, became interested in the idea of growing tea along the Black Sea coast. He bought vast plots in Chakvi, not far from Batumi, and dreamt of establishing massive plantations with internationally-competitive exports.
early Georgian tea factory staffed by Chinese workers

early Georgian tea factory partially staffed by Chinese specialists

In 1892, he traveled to China in order to study large-scale tea production. Popov hired a team of experienced workers from a factory in Guangdong, including an ambitious director named Lao Junzhou. After a three-year term, all of the specialists returned home except for Lao, who was determined to see the project achieve its full potential.

Popov and Lao had yet to perfect the conditions and methods for quality tea, and low-quality tea was derisively referred to as “Lao-class.”
Undaunted, Lao visited home and returned to Georgia with his family, and was
also accompanied by several other Chinese tea-growing families
, who brought not only new
 tea seedlings and seeds, but banana,
palm, bamboo, persimmon, and tung tree seeds.
portrait of Lao at the plantation in Chakvi

portrait of Lao at the plantation in Chakvi

After several more years of hard work and research, Lao’s tea was awarded a gold medal at the 1900

 Paris World Expo. As

Georgian tea increased in economic importance, the Tea and Subtropical Cultures Research Institute was founded in Anaseuli, where more new varieties of tea were grown, focusing on aromatic varieties.

Lao became the manager of a new factory in 1901, and was awarded an order in 1911–becoming the first person of Chinese origin to receive formal recognition from the Tsar. Years later, in 1924, the Soviet government awarded him the Red Banner Order of Labor, recognizing him as the founder of tea culture in Adjara and developer of a valuable economic resource.
Lao with his imperial medal at Chakvi in 1907

Lao with his imperial medal at Chakvi in 1907

In 1926, Lao returned to China with his family permanently (it is unclear whether this was for political or personal reasons), but tea continued to be a major industry throughout the Soviet period.
some delicious-looking bricks of "Stalin tea" ready for export

some delicious-looking bricks of “Stalin tea” ready for export

Tea growers in Chakvi lament that Georgian tea went into decline under Khrushchev, when the factories were worked mercilessly to meet planned production figures. The resulting low-quality tea was often sold to the military, while higher-quality Krasnodar tea (from plantations near Sochi) was sold to the general public. “Brick tea” remains the lowest quality product of all: it consists of tea leaves of any grade, steamed and pressed into two-kilogram bricks sold for about .60 USD. This unusual product is almost entirely exported to Mongolia, where it is known as “Stalin tea” for its trademark sickle-and-hammer stamp, and is customarily brewed with milk and drunk with salt and butter.

Soviet-era ad for Georgian tea

Soviet-era ad for Georgian tea

Today, Georgian tea production is on the rise in terms of both quality and quantity, with emphasis on the pesticide-free, organic growing process and increasingly popular marketing technique.
Sources
Butrin, Dmitry. “Georgia: Fleece, Wine, and Mimino,” Kommersant, 2003.
Liu-Kandareli, Mali. “Tea Culture Sources in Georgia.” Chinese Business in Georgia, 2010.

Gudauri Good Aura

georgia_map1

Today I joined a group of expats who go up to Gudauri, the Caucasus’ premier ski resort, every other Saturday throughout the season. You can get there by renting a private marshutka if you have a large enough group, or take a regular public marshutka from Didube station. Either way, the trip up the old military highway takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

After the dormant post-Soviet period in the ’90s, Gudauri received significant investment towards the creation of a year-round mountain resort–controversially, a fair amount of funding and support came out of the Tbilisi City Hall budget “savings.” Based on what I saw, however, the investments have been successful in attracting plenty of domestic as well as international tourists (the place is crawling with новый русский 20-somethings, as well as dedicated skiers from across central and western Europe).

Gudauri

 

The slopes at Gudauri are very open and well-groomed, and there are a lot more trails of varying difficulties (there are currently seven lifts, mostly chairlifts and towlines along with a new gondola line) than at Bakuriani. Basically, it’s great skiing for a fraction of what you would pay in the US or EU (30 lari for all-day ski rental and another 30 for an all day lift pass–so, under $50). I am a total beginner, and recommend the first slope (essentially an extended bunny hill), and the fourth slope–which, although steeper and narrower in parts, is more open, straight, and free of tantrumming children than is the first.

While close enough for a day trip, Gudauri is worth spending the weekend or a few days. As far as lodgings go there is the “Austrian House” (at the top of the second chairlift, off to the right), which has an amazing panoramic view, in addition to a good restaurant/bar that even serves mulled wine. It’s hostel-style, but if you have a  group of 6 or 8, you could rent out a whole room for about $30 a head. A friend of mine also recommended Hostel Ski-Niki for beginners, as both lessons and meals are included in the cost.

 

Georgian food is a fantastic, if unfortunately little known, cuisine–although that is changing, with restaurants beginning to branch out from enclaves in Moscow, London, and New York. While it varies from region to region, the Georgian diet is heavy on bread and cheese, along with many varieties of stew.

While the list below is by no means comprehensive, I have endeavored to put together a visual guide to traditional Georgian (or, arguably, regional) dishes that are most likely to come up at any supra, restaurant menu, or home-cooked meal.

Bread

Bread is a staple of the Georgian diet. As in the other Caucasus countries, bread is viewed as sacred and it is considered taboo to throw leftovers or stale pieces in the garbage (as a result, you may find scraps of bread left on the street for birds, or in a little bag neatly tied to the side of the neighborhood dumpster). Most neighborhoods have a tone (“toe-nay,” or oven, shown below) where you can buy fresh bread daily for 50 tetri-1 lari. Georgian bread is known as tonis puri (oven bread), dedas puri (mother’s bread), or shotis puri (?). I am not clear on the differences, although Georgian bread may be long and skinny, rounded-rectangular, or like the ones below. All are delicious!

tonis puri

tonis puri

Pies (Khachapuri and Lobiani)

While not as iconic as khinkali, khachapuri (cheese pie) is probably the most ubiquitous traditional Georgian dish. It is made at home as well as sold in cafes, high-end restaurants, and on the street. It is so widely eaten that ISET (International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University) publishes a monthly “Khachapuri Index,” charting the country’s economic health by the fluctuating prices of ingredients for the three most common regional varieties: Imeruli, Megruli, and Adjaruli.

khach index

Khachapuri Index ingredient lists

Khachapuri Imeruli

Khachapuri Imeruli

Khachapuri Adjaruli: the perfect breakfast

Khachapuri Adjaruli: the perfect breakfast! Influenced by a similar dish from Turkey, which borders the Adjara region

Khachapuri megruli: like imeruli, but also topped with cheese (so...white pizza)

Khachapuri megruli: like imeruli, but also topped with cheese (so…white pizza)

Khachapuri Osuri (Khabizgina): like imeruli, but the filling contains both potato and cheese. Delicious with satsebeli.

Khachapuri Osuri (Khabizgina): like imeruli, but the filling contains both potato and cheese. Delicious with satsebeli.

kubdari

Kubdari: variety of khachapuri from Svaneti, filled with cheese and meat (often lamb or beef)

Lobiani: resembles khachapuri imeruli, but stuffed with spiced red bean paste

Lobiani: usually resembles khachapuri imeruli, but stuffed with spiced red bean paste

Penovani: variety of khachapuri often sold individual size to go. It has a croissant-type dough but the same cheese filling

Penovani: variety of khachapuri often sold individual size to go. It has a croissant-type dough but the same cheese filling

Vegetables

Pkhali: vegetable paste usually made from spinach, beets, or cabbage

Pkhali: vegetable paste usually made from spinach, beets, beans, or cabbage

Salati: Georgian salad is usually comprised of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley. It may also be "nigvzit" (with nuts), and have a bazhe-type walnut dressing

Salati: Georgian salad is usually comprised of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley. It may also be “nigvzit” (with nuts), and have a bazhe-type walnut dressing

Lobio: spiced red beans baked in a clay pot. Often served with mchadi, a dense cornbread

Lobio: spiced red beans baked in a clay pot. Often served with mchadi, a dense cornbread

Soko: stuffed mushrooms fried in a clay pot

Soko: stuffed mushrooms fried in a clay pot

Badrijani (nigvzit--with nuts): marinaded eggplant topped with walnut sauce

Badrijani (nigvzit–with nuts): marinaded eggplant topped with walnut sauce

Ajapsandali: stew made from eggplant, potato, bell pepper, tomato, and herbs.

Ajapsandali: stew made from eggplant, potato, bell pepper, tomato, and herbs.

Tolma (known as dolma in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey): peppers, cabbage, or grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of lamb, rice, onion, and herbs

Tolma (known as dolma in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey): peppers, cabbage, or grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of lamb, rice, onion, and herbs

Meats

Khinkali: the ubiquitous Georgian dumpling, usually filled with meat, onion, herbs, and broth (although mushroom and potato varieties are often available)

Khinkali: the ubiquitous Georgian dumpling, usually filled with meat, onion, herbs, and broth (although mushroom and potato varieties are often available)

Mtsvadi: Georgian shashlik or kebab (usually beef, pork, or lamb), grilled over a fire and served with onion

Mtsvadi: Georgian shashlik or kebab (usually beef, pork, or lamb), grilled over a fire and served with onion

Kababi: another variety of kebab; for this, ground meat is formed on a skewer for cooking, and is served on a lavash with onion (and usually some kind of pinkish-red vegetable-based sauce?)

Kababi: another variety of kebab; for this, ground meat is formed on a skewer for cooking, and is served on a lavash with onion and satsebeli sauce

Katleti ("cutlet"): may be Georgian-style (beef/pork with herbs and onions) or Kiev-style (chicken stuffed with butter and cheese). There are many variations using different herbs and other ingredients like bread crumbs or potatoes.

Katleti (“cutlet”): may be Georgian-style (beef/pork with herbs and onions) or Kiev-style (chicken stuffed with butter and cheese). There are many variations using different herbs and other ingredients like bread crumbs or potatoes.

Satsivi: chicken breast stewed in bazhe (walnut sauce)

Satsivi: poultry stewed in bazhe (walnut sauce)

Bozbashi: mildly spicy tomato and herb broth with meatballs made with lamb or beef, rice, and onion.

Bozbashi: mildly spicy tomato and herb broth with meatballs made of lamb or beef, rice, and onion.

Muzhuzhi: pork offal (feet, ears, and tail) marinaded in vinegar and garlic

Muzhuzhi: pork offal marinaded in vinegar and garlic

Ostri: mildly spicy beef stew with pepper, tomato, mushrooms, and herbs

Ostri: mildly spicy beef stew with pepper, tomato, mushrooms, and herbs

Chakapuli: slow-cooked stew made with onions, tarragon, tkemali (plum sauce), white wine, and braised meat (usually lamb)

Chakapuli: slow-cooked stew made with onions, tarragon, tkemali (plum sauce), white wine, and braised meat (usually lamb)

Kharcho: traditional meat (often beef) soup, including rice, walnut, plum sauce, and various spices. The thicker Mingrelian variety  is reminiscent of tikka masala

Kharcho: traditional meat (often beef) soup, including rice, walnut, plum sauce, and various spices. The thicker Mingrelian variety is reminiscent of tikka masala

Sauces, Desserts, Other

Adjika: a spicy sauce reminiscent of red pesto originating in Abkhazia, made from red peppers, garlic, and herbs. A drier version is known as "Svanetian salt"

Adjika: a spicy sauce reminiscent of red pesto originating in Abkhazia, made from red peppers, garlic, and herbs. A drier version is known as “Svanetian salt”

Bazha (Bazhe): heavy walnut sauce used to make satsivi, but also liberally used as a condiment at supras

Bazha (Bazhe): heavy walnut sauce used to make satsivi, but also liberally used as a condiment at supras

Tkemali: sauce made from stewed plums

Tkemali: sauce made from stewed plums

Satsebeli (lit. "sauce"): a lighter variety of adjika, with tomato, pepper, vinegar, and onion. Used liberally on meat.

Satsebeli (lit. “sauce”): a lighter variety of adjika, with tomato, pepper, vinegar, and onion. Used liberally on meat or like ketchup on fried potatoes.

churchkhela

Churchkhela (“nutcicle,” “Georgian Snickers”): nuts on a string dipped in boiled, flour-thickened grape paste. Often eaten at New Year’s.

Gozinaki: caramelized nuts (usually walnuts) fried in honey. Like churchkhela, very popular during the Georgian holiday season

Gozinaki: caramelized nuts (usually walnuts) fried in honey. Like churchkhela, very popular during the Georgian holiday season

Nushis Namtskhvari ("nut cake"): is a sweet biscuit made with almonds, and when fresh is the perfect balance of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside

Nushis Namtskhvari (“nut cake”): is a sweet biscuit made with almonds, and when fresh is the perfect balance of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside

Ghomi: a thick porridge (often with cheese) much like grits

Ghomi: a thick porridge (often with cheese) much like grits

Matsoni: traditional fermented milk product, like a heavier Greek yogurt

Matsoni: traditional fermented milk product, like a heavier Greek yogurt