Khachapuri is probably one of Georgia’s most well-known gifts to the world, and rightfully so!
Although Georgia doesn’t have a national dish, Khachapuri would probably be the frontrunner since it is widely loved by Georgians and foreigners alike due to its rich cheese filling and buttery dough, however, Khachapuri is far more than just cheese bread.
First, it’s important to understand what Khachapuri is.
The word Khachapuri comes from the Georgian words ხაჭო khacho meaning “curd” or “cream” and პური puri which is the Georgian word for “bread.”
Khachapuri is generally made with either სულგუნი sulguni or იმერული imeruli cheese, both of which are a type of aged, soft cheeses (think of creaminess of Mozzarella combined with the sharpness of Muenster).
This gives Khachapuri its distinctive taste and texture.
Generally, Khachapuri has a salty undertone with the cheese strength ranging from low to mild, so as not to be overwhelming. The texture of the cheese itself is similar to a thick cottage cheese, however, it is the type of bread that is used, which is what makes Khachapuri truly Georgian.
Many regions of Georgia have their own variations of the famous dish.
The most ubiquitous form of Khachapuri is აჭარული ხაჭაპური Adjaruli Khachapuri ( cover image) which comes from the region of Adjara, located on the Black Sea coast next to Turkey.
Adjara is perhaps the most exotic region of Georgia, with its palm tree-lined beaches, noticeably large Turkish influence, and a form of dance that is almost foreign to the rest of Georgian dance.
It’s no wonder what Adjaruli Khachapuri is the most recognizable variant of Khachapuri.
This form is generally large enough to be an entire meal.
The dough itself is made into a boat/gondola form and then filled with a cheese that’s so gooey it’s almost like a soup.
After it comes out of the oven, a raw egg yolk and a thick pad of butter are placed on top, just to ensure that there is plenty of flavor and that the cheese is extra-creamy.
Guruli Khachapuri — Guria’s variant is equally as strange. This form of Khachapuri is usually in a crescent shape with a hardboiled egg inside. The dough is made with a bread that is like a thinner version of pita.
სამეგრელო Samegrelo is a region of Georgia located next to the border with Abkhazia.
The people of Samegrelo–მეგრელები Megrelians—have their own language that is related to Georgian (akin to the relationship between Czech and Russian).
მეგრული ხაჭაპური Megruli Khachapuri is the only form of Khachapuri that isn’t stuffed.
Instead, this region places the cheese on top. For further uniqueness, the cheese often comes in the form of large circular slices instead of crumbled so that it doesn’t completely melt together.
The mountainous region of Racha-Lechkhumi has a semi-open form of Khachapuri that is in a square shape with a large, thick slice of ham in each corner.
იმერული ხაჭაპური Imeruli Khachapuri uses the same dough as Guria’s form, but is in a large circular shape and uses imeruli cheese.
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Finally, there is ფენოვანი ხაჭაპური penovani Khachapuri which uses a flakey, croissant-style dough.
Each form of Khachapuri is unique and distinct, much like each of Georgia’s regions, with their own distinctive characteristics and culture.
Despite these differences, all of these forms of Georgia’s beloved cheese-bread are still able to call themselves “Khachapuri” just as each region, with their diverse culture and history, still call themselves “Georgian.”