5 Vegetarian Georgian Foods to Try
Unfortunately, the UK has not yet discovered the joy of Georgian food, so whilst I’m in Russia I’m going to take advantage of the plethora of Georgian restaurants here in St Petersburg. Georgian cuisine is extremely popular here in Russia and, if you are vegetarian, you’ll be happy to hear that you can easily have a vegetarian feast in a Georgian restaurant. Here are my 5 favourite vegetarian Georgian foods.
Of course, it would be wrong if I were to begin this list with any food other than the humble khachapuri. This is the Georgain equivalent of pizza, a cheesy and doughy main course that will leave you in a very happy food coma. There are many different types of Khachapuri, with the most famous being the Adjaruli khachapuri, which is shaped like a boat and has an egg on top.
If you’re looking for something filling, comforting and flavoursome, lobio is for you. This is a bean stew, laced with coriander and other spices. Traditionally, it comes served in a clay pot which sometimes will have corn bread baked over the top. This dish is generally vegan, and due to its popularity you will be able to find it in most Georgian restaurants.
Khinkali are a kind of dumpling with a very distinctive shape. Although the most popular khinkali are filled with meat, their cheese and mushroom filled counterparts are also very appetising. Remember to eat them in the Georgian style, holding them by the stalk at the top and eating them from the bottom up. I was once told on a walking tour in Tbilisi that every time someone eats Khinkali incorrectly, a Georgian dies from shock!
Lobiani is a flaky bread case stuffed with a bean mix which has similar flavours to lobio. For me, it is the ultimate street food purchase in Georgia, but you will also find that many restaurants sell really good quality lobiani.
For cheese lovers, this is what dreams are made of. Elarji is a mix of corn flour, cornmeal and cheese, which effectively forms a mass of cheesy, stringy goodness. This is so delicious but is very filling, so I would recommend sharing this with a friend.
When eating in a Georgian restaurant, I recommend not trying just one dish, but many. If there’s a group of you, order lots of dishes to share between you all, so that you can work out what you love and get to try more of the many amazing foods that Georgian cuisine has to offer. Happy dining!
Leila, currently studying at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg