Georgian people are famous for their hospitality. They respect guests and are good at being friendly and generous while entertaining them, especially in their own home. They give parties in honor of certain respectable people, or for a special events like a wedding, a birthday, a housewarming, Christmas, Easter, etc. If you are invited to one of those parties try not to miss one as it is supposed to be a real performance put up by the toast master, or the " tamada ". The tamada acts like a director of the party announcing traditional toasts to peace, health, happiness, well-being , etc. Tamadas can make exceptional toasts. Guests at the party are like actors responding to the toasts and often with their own interpretation.
So, a toast-master ought to be eloquent, intelligent, smart, sharp-witted and quick-thinking, with a good sense of humor because very often some of the guests might try to compete with him on the toast making.
Songs have always accompanied the Georgians in joy and sorrow, in battle and labor. Special drinking songs and wedding songs ( if it is a wedding party) as well as chants full of humor, sung by guests during the course of the party contest. It may sound strange but sometimes even events of social, economic and political significance are discussed during the table talks, and some problems are solved peacefully. The atmosphere at the Georgian table is so friendly and candid that even the enemies are likely to make up. If there is enough room at the party you make take part in folk dances. In these dances and at the table men outgh to be gentlemen and try to be very polite and respect the ladies.
As for wine, it has been adored by the Georgians as a symbol of strength and beauty, keeping our spiritual balance and always filling us with stamina. Georgia is rich in wines and it has been the pride of Georgian people cultivating it for centuries and loving it as their own children.
Do You Want to Know Where the Georgian Man Reveals Himself in All His Splendor? This is the Georgian Table !
Where do we come from? Georgian roots can be traced back before Christian period. There is much enigmatic and unidentified with us which is beyond conscious perception. And only intuition we feel that there is something sacred and cosmic in it. Such is the Georgian table. The whole ritual is submitted to the common rules. The word reigns over the Georgian table. At the beginning of the table a toast- master is appointed either by a host or by guests and almost in a few minutes he becomes a leader of the revelry. A toast-master should undoubtedly be an eloquent and intelligent person. He conducts the table according to the order set by the ancestors. First of all, he is to toast the hosts and wish them happiness, longevity, success and reproduction. High-flown and magic words seem to help a toast-master to establish contact with the Heaven. All wishes expressed in a toast are usually accompanied by direct appeal to God: God! help us in all our deeds.
One of the most important toasts is a toast devoted to the memory of deceased ancestors. having poured some wine on bread, a toast-master crosses himself and prays God to be merciful to the souls in the other world. But you shouldn't expect a toast to the deceased to grow into mysticism. Never. For Georgians consider this world and the other world to be an indivisible entity.
At the Georgian table a toast-master bridges the gap between past, present and then the future. It seems that not only the guests, but their ancestors and descendents are invisibly present at the table. A toast-master toasts them with the same love and devotion as the other members of the table.
When drinking some toasts all men have to stand up and drink wine in silence. A toast can be proposed only by a toast-master and the rest are to develop the idea. Everybody tries to say something more original and emotional than the previous speaker. The whole process grows into a sort of oratory contest.
A toast master arranges breaks from time to time. The thing is that there are special toasts which according to the ritual should be accompanied by a song or a verse. Almost everyone in Georgia has a good ear to music and good voice. Old Georgian drinking-songs are melodious, polyphonic and rather complicated. Some of them don't need any accompaniment. The choir of men creates musical background. Modern drinking-songs are usually performed to the accompaniment of the guitar or the piano.
The Georgian folk dances are rather common for the Georgian table. The Georgian dance is distinguished for its aristocratic restraint and steadiness: a man is a knight, a lady is as delicate and gracious as a fairy. Their restrained, smooth movements express flaming emotions. The toast-master has to propose a toast to every person at the Georgian table and so have the others. every speaker tries to distinguish the most interesting, original and praiseworthy features of a person toasted. But it should not be considered to be flattery. These are lessons of love and humanism. This tradition ennobles a person. When a person is told that he is kind and honest he will find it difficult to do evil. When he is told he is generous he will try not to be greedy. When he is told he is handsome and beautiful, there is less probability of developing the inferiority complex. What is it? May be it's a psychoanalytical method widely used in Georgia long before Zigmund Freud's Birth?
Love, life, friendship and other abstract notions are subjects of eloquent toasts at the Georgian table. Every speaker tries to express his personal understanding of these notions. When a person is toasting, the rest are listening to him with great attention and respect. The revelry never grows into an unrestrained drinking-bout.
The table has come to an end. A toast-master proposes a toast to the Saints patronizing the Georgian people. Finally, one of the men proposes a toast to a toast-master and thanks him on behalf of all guests. As a rule the table is full of dishes as the Georgian cuisine is diverse and delicious. On arrival to Georgia you will have a chance to try Georgian toasts and enjoy both wine and food!
K H I N K A L I
Cut the meat into pieces and mince with onions in a bowl. Season the minced meat with pepper and salt, adding 1/2 glass of warm water and mix thoroughly. Sift the wheat flour, heap it up and make a dip in the middle of the heap. Pour a glass of water into it , add some salt and knead the dough. Roll out the dough to a thin layer and cut out round pieces using a glass or a cup for a cutter. Put a spoon full of the meat mixture in the centre of the dough circle. Gather the edges together into a bunch and twist the top. Press on them slight to create a form similar to a bulb. Drop khinkali into boiling salt water. They tend to drop to the bottom and then rise to the top of the water. Stir occasionally to prevent from sticking. Allow to boil for a few minutes. Serve hot.
B A Z H E
Bazhe is a common dish of Western Georgia. Boil or fry a chicken. Cut it into pieces. Grind the walnuts. Take the garlic and pound it together with the salt. Sprinkle the ground walnut with saffron. Add the garlic and squeeze the mass so that the excess oil comes out. Then dilute the mixture with chilled broth. The sauce should have a thick consistence. Finally put the chicken pieces with the sauce and serve.
S A T S I V I
(Turkey or Chicken in Walnut Sauce)
- 1 turkey ( or chicken)
- Walnuts -600 gr.
- Onions- 5
- Fenugreek-3 teaspoons
- Garlic- 6 or 7 cloves
- Saffron -1/2 teaspoon
- Cinnamon-1/2 teaspoon
- Vinegar,red pepper and salt to taste
Cut up a drawn and thoroughly washed turkey into medium-sliced pieces and put them in a saucepan. Cover it with water and boil. Remove the scum in the process of boiling . Remove the fat from the broth and stew finely chopped onions in it. Mince walnuts through a meat grinder 2 or 3 times. Ground garlic, fenugreek, coriander, red pepper, saffron and cinnamon; dilute with vinegar. Leave 2/3 of the broth in the pan, put the prepared mass and the stewed onions into the pan. Remove it from the stove in a bout 10 minutes.
C H A N A K H I
- Mutton/lamb-800 gr.
- Tomatoes-2 or 3
- Onions-200 gr.
- Basil-1/2 bunch (fresh, if possible)
- Garlic -1 clove
- Potatoes 1 or 2
- Salt to taste
Chanaki is made in a clay pot ( it is desirable to prepare each serving separately in small pots). Put a layer of finely cut pieces of meat at the bottom of the pot. Then place a layer of eggplant, stuffed with slightly salted fat tail, garlic and finely chopped onions, parsley and basilic. Put on top 2 or 3 pieces of peeled tomatoes and 2 potatoes cut in half lengthwise. Sprinkle that with salt and put into the oven. Bake first with the pot cover closed and then remove the cover. Chanakhi will be ready in about 1 -1/2 hours.
RED BEANS PKHALI
- Red beans- 500 gr.
- Walnuts- 1 cup
- Garlic- 4 cloves
- Coriander and celery- 3 shoots
- Savory-3 shoots
- Fenugreek-1/3 teaspoon
Sort and wash beans under running water. Put them into a saucepan and boil on a medium flame. And some water several times to prevent the beans from burning. When the beans are ready, pour the juice off into another bowl. Pound the walnuts and then garlic, fresh coriander, celery, and savory together. Add the dry coriander and spices, then dilute with the bean juice. Put this mix into the saucepan with the beans and carefully mix with a spoon. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds for garnish. Add salt and pepper to taste.
RED BEET PKHALI
- Walnuts-200 gr.
- Beets- 1 kg
- Garlic- 4 cloves
- Celery-1 bunch
- Parsley-11 bunch
- Coriander- 1 bunch
- Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste
Wash and boil the red beet with leaves. While boiling add celery and parsley. Chill, strain and put this through the meat grinder or food processor. Then add minced walnut, garlic, new and dry coriander, salt, pepper and wine vinegar to taste. Mix the ingredients well and serve.
E G G P L A N T
(Aubergine) with Walnut
- Eggplants-1 kg
- Walnuts-200 gr. ( about 1 cup)
- Parsley-1 bunch
- Garlic-3 or 4 cloves
- Celery-1 bunch
- Coriander-1 bunch
- Saffron, pepper, salt, oil, vinegar to taste
Wash the small eggplants, cut them lengthwise, sprinkle with salt. After an hour squeeze and fry in vegetable oil. Allow the eggplant to cool. To prepare the stuffing: fry the minced walnuts with the chopped onion, garlic, saffron, celery, parsley, coriander, salt, pepper and wine vinegar to taste. After that spread the stuffing on each of the eggplants and fold over.
- 500 g fish
- 1 cupful walnut kernels
- ¾ cupful grape vinegar
- 2-4 buttons of garlic
- 1 tsp. ground cloves and cinnamon
- 1 tsp. kindza (coriander) seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 whole all spices
- 1 whole pepper
- Ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
Cut the cleaned fish into pieces, place in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Put in the bay leaves and allspice and cook for 30-40 minutes. When tender arrange the fish in a serving platter. Crush the walnuts or put them through the food grinder together with garlic, the whole pepper and salt. Add the kindza seeds which have been crushed, mix thoroughly, pour in the fish liquor and transfer the mixture to a clean saucepan. Add finely chopped onion and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cinnamon, cloves and black pepper which have been combined with vinegar. Continue to cook 10 minutes longer. Pour the hot satsivi over the fish, cool and serve Pomegranate or sour grape juice may be substituted for the vinger.
(Georgian mutton soup)
- 500 g mutton
- 2 onions
- 1 tblsp flour
- 1 tblsp butter
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp saffron
- 2 tblsps grape vinegar
- Kindza (the leaves of coriander)
- Salt, pepper
Wash the mutton in cold water. Cut so as to have 3 or 4 pieces per plate. Bring to a boil and skim. Remove the mutton when tender; strain the stock through a cheesecloth. Chop the onion, saute in butter, sprinkle with flour and brown. Return the mutton to the stock, thicken with browned flour and onion. Add saffron, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a ball. Separately boil the light grape vinegar, add it to the soup, bring to a boil again and remove from heat. Beat the egg yolks, combine with a little of stock and then stir into the soup; heat but do not bring to the boiling point otherwise the yolk will curdle. Sprinkle with Kindza and serve immediately. Chicken maybe substituted for mutton.
(Georgian beef soup)
- 5OO g brisket
- 2 onions
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tblsps tomato puree or 100 g tomatoes
- ½ cupful rice
- ½ cupful tart plums
- Salt, pepper
- Butter or drippings
- Chopped kindza (coriander)
- Parsley or dill
Wash and cut the meat so as to have 3 or 4 pieces per plate. Cover with cold water, bring to boil and skim. Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, add finely sliced onion, crushed garlic, rice and plums. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes. Saute tomatoes or tomato puree in butter or drippings. Add to the kharcho and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander, parsley or dill.
- 500 g mutton
- 1 cupful split peas
- 500 g potatoes
- 2 apples
- 2 onions
- 2 tblsps tomato puree
- 2 tblsps butter
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped parsley
Wash and cut the mutton into 20 to 40 g pieces. Add water to cover the kettle with a lid and simmer. Pick and wash the peas, add 2 or 3 cupful of cold water and bring to boil. Cook over low heat for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Bone the mutton. Add the peas to the meat. Strain and add the mutton broth, the finely sliced onion sauteed in butter, the potatoes and apples cut into chunks and the tomato puree. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley.
- 500 g lamb
- 750 g potatoes
- 200 g tomatoes
- 300 g eggplant
- 200 g string beans
- 1 onion
- Salt, pepper
- Parsley or kindza (coriander)
Wash the meat and cut into pieces (2 or 3 per portion). If available, use a 2 or 3 litre stoneware casserole. Add finely chopped onion, chunks of potatoes, tomatoes cut in half, string beans from which the strings have been removed, diced eggplant, parsley greens or kindza. Season with salt and pepper. Add two cupful of water. Cover with a lid and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Serve in the casserole.
COUNTRY BEEF STREW
Test Georgian Tea, click here: 400-500 g tenderloin, short loin or rump of beef 2 onions 2 pickled cucumbers 2 tblsp tomato puree ½ cupful grape wine 2 or 3 tblsps butter Clove of garlic Salt to taste
Chopped parsley wash the meat. Remove the tendons and cut into small pieces. Add finely cut onion and saute in butter. Transfer to a shallow saucepan. Add tomato puree, peeled and sliced pickled cucumbers, clove of garlic, salt , wine and two or three tablespoonful of meat stock. Cover with a lid and slimmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley.
(Stuffed grape leaves)
500 g lamb (boned) ½ cupful rice 1 onion 1 cupful stock 400 g grape leaves (or a cabbage) 1 tblsp butter Chopped dill Salt, pepper
Put the meat through the mincer, add the boiled rice, shopped onion and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Wash the grape leaves (or a cabbage), cut off hard stems and spread the leaves on the table in paires.
Put a bit of stuffing on the wide end of the leaves, fold the edges inward and roll into a sausage shape. Sprinkle with salt and place the Tolmas in rows in a shallow casserole. Pour over butter and the bone stock. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat for about an hour. Serve the Tolma on a platter. Pass
Sour cream mixed with grated garlic and salt, or cinnamon mixed with powdered sugar.
Shish kebab, Shashlik, Grilled Lamb
500 g best loin of lamb 2 onions 1 tblsp oil Salt, pepper 100 g green onions 200 g tomatoes ½ lemon 1 tblsp vinegar
Cut the meat into pieces about 5 cm square and mix with salt, pepper, finely sliced onion and vinegar (or teaspoonful lemon juice). Cover with a lid and set aside in a cool place for 2 or 3 hours to marinate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, skewer the pieces of meat, alternating with sliced onion. Grill the shaslik over a charcoal fire turning frequently until tender. Take the meat off the skewer. Pour over butter and garnish with green onions, tomatoes and lemon slices. Pass ground dry barberries or pomegranate juice, and sour plum sauces.
(Grilled Beef Fillet)
500 g fillet of beef 2 onions 1 tblsp grape vinegar 100 g green onion 200 g tomatoes ½ lemon Salt, pepper
Trim the meat and cut into 40-50 g pieces. Marinate in a crockery basin. Dredge with salt and pepper, pour over vinegar, add the finely chopped onion and mix. Cover and set aside in a cool place for 2 to 3 hours. Skewer the meat and grill for 8 to 10 minutes turning frequently. Remove the basturma from the skewer and serve on a hot platter garnished with tomatoes, green onions and lemon slices.
1 chicken 30 g butter Salt to taste Freshly ground pepper Garlic to taste Tomato or walnut sauce
Clean, wash and cut the bird lengthwise along the breast. Spread out the bird and rub it with crushed garlic and salt on both sides. Heat the butter in a skillet and when hot put in the bird and cover with a flat lid. Put a heavy weight on the lid to keep the bird pressed flat to the bottom of the skillet.
Fry until golden brown, turn it over and cook over medium heat for another 30 minutes.
This fried chicken may be served with or without a garnishing. If garnishing is desired, serve fried potatoes, tomatoes, boiled rice, cucumbers, etc. Separately pass a tart tomato or walnut sauce.
WITH TKEMALI SAUCE
Choose a medium-sized chicken. Dredge with salt and pepper and skewer diagonally from leg to wing. Broil over hot charcoals for 20 to 30 minutes, turning and basting regularly with butter until evenly browned. Remove the chicken from the skewer and serve garnished with lettuce, fresh-salted cucumbers and tomatoes. Pass tkemali (tart plum) sauce (see below).
(Tart Plum Sauce)
200 g dried tart plums 1 crushed clove of garlic Chopped kindza (coriander) or dill Salt and pepper
Wash and stew the plums until soft. Remove the seeds and rub through a strainer. Add plum liquor until the paste is as thick as sour cream. Mix in the seasoning, bring to a boil and then cool. This sauce may also be served with shashlyk and other grilled meats.
(Casseroled Chicken )
- 1 chicken
- 2 onion
- 2 tblsp tomato puree
- 1 tblsp vinegar
- ½ cupful meat stock
- 2 tblsps Madeira or
- Port wine
- 2 or 3 tblsps butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped greens
- Lemon slices
Prepare the chicken, wash and joint it into medium-size pieces, brown in hot butter in a shallow casserole. Add finely chopped onion, tomato puree, vinegar, wine, meat stock and seasoning. Cover the casserole with a lid and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add sliced tomatoes and cock for another 5 to 7 minutes. Serve the chicken with a slice of lemon on each piece of chicken. Sprinkle with chopped greens.
- 2 cupful rice
- 150 g raisins
- 150 g honey
- ½ cupful boiled butter
- 1 cupful beans
- 50 shelled walnuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 onion or 75 g green onions
Wash and soak the beans in cold water for 3 or 4 hours. Drain, add cold water t cover and cook until tender; add the chopped onion and bring to boiling point. Add crushed walnuts to the beans. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon. Serve hot or cold sprinkled with chopped greens.
Here is an e-mail address of the wine merchant that imports Georgian Wines: firstname.lastname@example.org
Toll free phone # : 1-888-421-9463 (Mon - Sat. 11am-8pm)
FAX # : 1-888-451-9463
At this moment they offer the following Georgian Wines: Gurjaani, Khvanchkara, Saperavi, Mukuzani, Kindzmarauli, Tsinandali. All wines are bottled by the Georgian Wines & Spirits Company Ltd. in Tbilisi.