Adjarian Khachapuri, Traditional Georgian Dishes

Adjarian Khachapuri, Traditional Georgian Dishes

Adjarian khachapuri is a mouthwatering meal symbolic of the Republic of Adjara in southwestern Georgia. Among all of the foods found in Georgian cuisine, this uniquely-shaped dish is one of the most popular and recognizable.

Adjarian khachapuri has come to signify boundless Georgian hospitality, the gentle southern sun and the vast expanses of the Black Sea. The shape of this doughy dish resembles a boat, inside of which delicious melted cheese, a generous slice of butter and an egg yolk meld into a tantalizing mix. The shape and ingredients are designed to reflect the bright sun of the Adjarian subtropics and the coastal community in which the khachapuri originated.

In previous centuries, Adjarian khachapuri had a round shape and was called "penerli". It first appeared in the vicinity of Batumi in the 15th-16th centuries and is believed to have been introduced by the Ottoman Turks during their three centuries of rule in Adjara. According to historical records, the Georgian dish continued to be called “penerli” up until the 1950s, when this name gradually faded from use in favor of the modern name. It was also around this time that the shape of the khachapuri began to change.

Adjarian khachapuri consists of Imeretian cheese, yeast dough, egg and butter. The dough is rolled out into a rectangle, after which its two ends are formed into symmetrical rolls around uniformly distributed portions of cheese sprinkled along the edges. In this manner the cheese gets tucked into the dough itself, which makes the khachapuri even more delicious. Next, the edges of the dough are connected and the dough is shaped into a boat. To cook khachapuri, shredded cheese is laid out in the center and the dough is smeared with egg yolk and butter before being placed in the oven. A few minutes before it is fully cooked, a whole egg yolk is spread in the center of the boat atop the cheese. After the dish has cooked for another couple of minutes, a large piece of butter is immersed in the melted cheese.

Adjarian khachapuri is filling and high in calories. It is customary to eat khachapuri with your hands: Small chunks of hot bread should be torn off from the edge of the doughy boat and dipped into the melted cheese laden with butter and runny egg yolk.

Restaurants commonly offer small, medium or large portions of this dish and will sometimes give you the option of ordering your khachapuri with one, two or three yolks. Nowadays, khachapuri can often be ordered with extra toppings, including minced meat, beans, sautéed vegetables, spinach, stewed mushrooms, chicken, tomatoes and the eggplant-based ajapsandal. Yet the classic Adjarian khachapuri recipe will always be made simply with melted, stretchy Imeruli cheese and a signature egg yolk. Be sure to try it while in Georgia, especially when you are in Adjara, its historical homeland!