Megrelian Kharcho, Traditional Georgian Dishes

Megrelian kharcho is a Georgian dish from the South Caucasus Mountains of Samegrelo Region, the historical homeland of the Mingrelian people. This region long remained isolated from the rest of Georgia, in part because of the distinct Mingrelian language which is still spoken in the community today. Samegrelo functioned as a state within a state, which allowed local traditions to take root and flourish here over the centuries. These traditions include unique local dishes, including Mingrelian kharcho, which has now been absorbed into mainstream Georgian cuisine.

Megrelian kharcho is an incredibly satiating and delicious stew prepared from beef, onions, tomatoes, garlic, spices, corn flour and ground walnuts. When made according to the classic kharcho recipe, the meat is first stewed in its own juice before being combined with the savory fried vegetables and an aromatic spice mix called kharchos suneli, which is used in many Georgian foods. The addition of flour and nuts adds thickness and additional flavor to the dish.

As the Mingrelians’ homeland often experiences cold autumns and winters due to its elevation and proximity to the sea, this kharcho soup is especially important to the local diet. Warm and filling, kharcho makes the perfect wintertime lunch or dinner. It is usually consumed with fresh Georgian shoti bread baked in a clay oven over an open fire. Fresh herbs, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes are also commonly placed on the table alongside the dish.

To taste the traditions of a remote Georgian community, be sure to try Megrelian kharcho when traveling in Georgia!