Kalakuri Khinkali, Traditional Georgian Dishes
Khinkali is quintessential Georgian cuisine, a juicy, savory dish which is so beloved that it is quickly becoming well-known even beyond the borders of Georgia. Specifically in recent years, a metropolitan version of this dish called kalakuri khinkali has grown in popularity.
The classic khinkali recipe consists of small portions of finely chopped minced beef, veal or pork wrapped in a layer of thinly rolled dough. The minced meat is salted and mixed with a small amount of water, which when cooked mingles with the flavor of fatty meat and turns into the juicy broth for which khinkali is famous. The finished dumpling resembles a pouch of dough with miniscule folds which are sealed together on top.
It is believed that khinkali first appeared in Georgia’s mountainous regions of Pshavi, Khevsureti and Mtiuleti, but the dish quickly became popular and spread to other parts of the Caucasus. There are now many types of khinkali, with one of the most popular and delicious varieties known as kalakuri, or “urban” khinkali.
With the arrival of the hearty khinkali to the cities from its mountain homeland, it was not long before finely chopped greens were added to the traditional filling of minced meat. It was this simple addition that soon became the highlight of kalakuri khinkali, for the succulent greens gave the meat a fresh, distinctive flavor.
Kalakuri khinkali is often lightly sprinkled with ground black pepper before eating. Like all khinkali it is eaten with the hands: Grab the khinkali by the knob on top and bite a small hole into the side of the dumpling. Drink the fragrant meat broth through the hole before eating the tender, thin dough and juicy boiled meat until only the knob of the dough remains.
As a rule, 5 khinkali makes for a filling meal, but in Georgia you can certainly find “professionals” who can easily eat 10-20 pieces in one sitting. While traveling in Georgia, be sure to eat your fill of khinkali, a classic of Georgian cuisine, and pamper yourself with the spicy variety kalakuri khinkali.