Khinkali is a very famous dish in Georgia, consumed on a regular basis. It’s the first dish every Georgian introduces to their foreign friends.
What makes khinkali so unique?
Khinkali is a meat dumpling. The meat is uncooked when it’s wrapped up in the dough. The dumplings are boiled and not steamed; thus, the meat produces a broth inside which needs to be sucked out on the first bite without spilling one drop on a plate! The most comfortable way to eat khinkali is with your hands. The twisted knobs of the dough are called kuchi (stomach), it’s a tough part of the dish and is usually not eaten. It’s mostly used to count how many a person ate.
Khinkali origniated in the mountain regions of Khevsureti, Mtiuleti and Pshavi and later spread across the country. Nowadays, every region makes it with their own twist. The most popular filling is a mixture of pork and beef, while the original recipe Khevsuruli called for lamb and included onions, salt, peper, and cumin. Tbilisi also developed its own type of khinkali called Kalakuri and adds fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley to the main ingredients. The presentation of khinkali is the same in every restaurant, the only difference you might notice is the size of the dumpling and the shape of the dough knobs.
One of the best places to find khinkali in town is a restaurant chain Pasanauri. With two locations in the city center, the restaurant offers an authentic Georgian experience. Restaurant Pasanuri on Maidan Square is open 24 hours every day, so no matter when you get cravings for khinkali, you can always come here and enjoy it to the fullest.
The restaurant features wooden tables and thick dividers, enabling each table some privacy. Old Tbilisi photos by Robert Capa adorn the walls, while an installation of a Georgian feast hangs upside down from a ceiling.
If you’d like to taste original lamb khinkali like mountain regions used to make, then Zakhar Zakharichi is the place to go. The restaurant is named after a restaurateur who had a particular table in his chain of taverns in the late 19th century for feeding poor people for free.
Although small, Zakhar Zakharich makes khinkali dough entirely by hand, which is very rare in the khinkali-serving restaurants. Handmade dough makes dumplings stickier and fluffier.
Ethno Tsiskvili is one of the several restaurants of Tsiskvili Group and is unique in that it has a natural waterfall and water mill (tsiskvili) on its premises. Additionally, if you’d like to see traditional Georgian dances and hear local folk songs, then this is the place for you.
Hofbrau or HB is a restaurant chain serving Hofbrau beer in Georgia along with German and local cuisine. The interior screams Germany as it exhibits typical beer mugs, clothes, hats and other souvenirs from Bavaria region. It also serves khinkali.
Another great place to find tasty khinkali is Bernard. Similar to Pasanauri, the pub features wooden chairs and tables with dividers and it is open 24 hours each day. The atmosphere is friendly but can get crowded in the evenings and weekend and service can be a little slow.
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