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Georgian specialities

An extensive list of the dishes in the Georgian culinary repertoire follows. Not all of these will appear at a home dinner, at a formal banquet, or even on the menu of a given restaurant, but the dedicated gourmet should be able to sample nearly everything listed over the course of a two-week stay.

adzhika: This spicy condiment hails from Abkhazia and is made from red chili peppers and herbs.
badrijani: Baby eggplants served whole with their skins and stuffed with a ground walnut paste seasoned with oils and spices.
basturma: Air-dried beef served in thin slices. The nearest equivalent is pastrami.
bazhi: A sauce of ground walnuts, walnut oil, water, and the combination of Georgian spices known as khmeli-suneli-the exact mixture of which varies with every cook.
chadi: Cornbread.
chakapuli: A stew of lamb cubes and tkemali (a green plum), tarkhuna (taragon), and scallions.
chahhokhbili: Chicken (pheasant, if available) stew with tomato and every green vegetable available. Especially redolent of fresh coriander and lots of onion.
chanakhi: Whole tomatoes baked in a clay pot with greens and garlic, whole eggplants, chunks of lamb, and big green peppers.
chicken chkmeruli (tabaka): Chicken pressed between two clay plates and fried. churchkhela: A candy made from boiled grape skins and walnuts, sometimes combined with raisins. Never found in restaurants, but sold in village markets or along country roads. Walnuts are strung on a thread and dipped into a hot grape mixture, then hung to solidify.
ghomi (pronounced rhomi): The Georgian equivalent of an Italian polenta. Crushed corn kernels to which cornflour is added, continually stirred, and cooked for a long time. Often served with slices of suluguni, cheese placed in the middle of the hot corn puree to melt. A familar taste for Americans from the South.
gozinaki: A sweet of boiled honey and sugar poured over a bed of walnuts.
khachapuri: A cheese pie made from dough, suluguni cheese (resembles mozzarella), and sometimes egg. If the Georgians had emigrated to the United States in the same numbers as Italians, these cheese pies would no doubt be as familiar and beloved as pizza, which - minus the tomato sauce-they most resemble. Every housewife prepares this dish somewhat differently, and it exhibits marked regional characteristics as well. There are four types:
imeruli: Most often found in homes. Commonly baked as a round with imeruli cheese. Comes from Imereti.
achma: Usually baked as a square and made ol many thin layers of dough, cheese, and butter, resembling lasagna. Comes from Ajara.
adjaruli: A version similar to imeruli except that it is served open-faced with an egg beaten into the cheese center with a fork. Also from Ajara.
enovani: Like a mille-feuille, with many thin layers of dough and suluguni. Found throughout Georgia but especially fine in Tbilisi.

kharcho: a meat and rice soup, highly spiced with black and cayenne peppers.

khashi: a soup of tripe and cow trotters and lots of garlic. This is eaten in the morning and is an excellent remedy for a hangover.
khinkali: Bell-shaped meat dumplings filled with ground beef, pork, lamb, and spices. Black pepper, always provided, should be sprinkled liberally. This delicacy is eaten by holding the doughy twisted end, which is not consumed. Special restau-rants called sakhinkle specialize in khinkali; they rarely appear in the home. Chefs from Dusheti are considered the experts at khinkali preparation. A famous anecdote attesting to the addictive nature of these dumplings tells of a man who goes into a sakhinkle and orders 99 khinkali. When asked, "Why 99 and not 100?" the man replies, "What do you think I am-a pig?"
lobio: Kidney beans baked with water in a ceramic pot and then crushed with a pestle and mixed with coriander and a spice called umbalo (European pennyroyal).
matsoni: Georgian yogurt.
mtsvadi (shaslilik): A lamb or beef shish kebab ol Caucasian rather than Georgian origin. Found on most restaurant menus, and the preferred dish for picnics in the countryside. Usually made by men, as with the preparation of a Spanish paella.
nadugi: Curd mixed with mint.
pkhali: Comes in two types, green and red. Both consist of minced spinach mixed with ground walnuts, the famous khmeli-suncli spices, garlic, and a little vinegar with a topping of pomegranate seeds.
puri: The bread (both round and crusty, and long and doughy) that accompanies every meal. Dedaspuri is long and doughy and is often featured in the paintings of Pirosmani.
satsivi: Chunks of turkey (sometimes chicken) in a sauce of corn flour, saffron, and enough ground walnuts to give a granular consistency. Always served at room temperature.
tkhemali: A spicy, tart green plum sauce. The essential accompaniment for shish kebab or any other meat.