Tag Archives: Georgia

Georgia Travel Diary 6- Georgian Feast/Supra

Traveling, for me, is to embark on a path that is unknown. Whenever I am traveling to a new place, the foodie in me is very much keen and interested to taste and experience the local cuisine from that region. Though I prefer mostly vegetarian food as I am not a very fond eater of lamb or red meat in particular, but am always keen to learn new region specific recipes, the family does enjoy eating non-veg food.

The Georgia tour package included plans of eating lunch on one of the days at the local farmers house, we had booked it in our itinerary with the tour operator, and ate the Georgian feast which is called as Supra, at his place. We went to the farmers house on the third day of our tour after starting the day visiting Gremi and the Nekresi monasteries. We had informed our tour guide of eating only chicken and hence meat or pork was not included in the lunch. Visiting the local farmer for lunch is part of the Georgian tour package, it gives us visitors a taste of the local homemade food and wine, get to know the local cuisine and customs associated. As it is a country famous for its wine, wine plays an important role in the local customs. As we reached our host Mr. Gavazi’s house, we were warmly welcomed by him and his gracious wife. They could not speak English, but I found them to be very friendly and a humble couple. The table was laid outside in the porch area of the house, had already been set when we reached with various dishes. The numerous plates were filled with lovely homemade dishes, fruits and salad vegetables all fresh produce from their farm. When my hubby needed some spice and asked for green chili, immediately the farmer plucked fresh chili from his yard.

I will share some pictures of the our Georgian feast- Supra 🙂

ashusphotography-Georgian Supra: Table laid with dishes.
ashusphotography-Georgian Supra: Table laid with dishes.
ashus-Georgian cuisine, table with homemade dishes.
ashus-Georgian cuisine, table with homemade dishes.

The table had all the homemade dishes, even the honey and cheese was homemade. The farmer’s wife had prepared all the dishes, and on our request only chicken was served as part of the non-veg dish and hence other meat is missing from this spread of dishes.

ashusphotography-Beetroot and Onion salad.
ashusphotography-Beetroot and Onion salad.

I loved tasting this dish, it was the first time I was tasting beetroot in this preparation. The onion in it was giving a nice crunch to the soft bite of the beetroot. It was a sweetish tangy taste.

ashusphotography-Sulguni cheese
ashusphotography-Sulguni cheese

This is the famous Georgian cheese called as Sulguni, used in many of the dishes including the national dish named as Khachapuri. It is salty to taste and bit elastic, crumbles easily. It was a bit too salty for my taste, not used to eating such salty homemade cheese :). I am used to eating homemade cottage cheese i.e. Paneer, it is without salt, unless we add salt to the milk before curdling it.

ashusphtograph-Lobiani
ashusphotography-Lobiani

This is the kidney beans or Lobiani as they call it. The above dish is mashed up Lobia or beans with onions. It had the Georgian salt, was without chili, and hence we needed some spice and hubby asked for the green chili 🙂 .

ashusphotography-Ajapsandali
ashusphotography-Ajapsandali

Ajapsandali, as per the guide, hoping I have spelt it correct :). This  tasted very much like out Indian Brinjal and tomato sabji. This was the Eggplant cut into long thin slice, fried and then cooked with onion and tomatoes with the Georgian salts and herbs. It tasted good, but yeah this too was not spicy.

ashusphotography-Potato fry
ashusphotography-Potato fry

This is also regularly eaten, as in most parts and one of my favorites, fried potatoes sprinkled with the Georgian salt.

ashusphotography-Georgian Khachapuri
ashusphotography-Georgian Khachapuri

Khachapuri is the national dish of Georgia. It is flatbread filled with cheese filling, Sulguni cheese is used. It is called with different names as per the filling, cheese either used as stuffing or as spread on top and the names given accordingly.  If it is filled with Lobia it is called as Lobiani Khachapuri. This was more like our Indian flatbread- stuffed Naan, with a very cheesy tasting filling inside. It is a very rich dish.

ashusphotography- Walnut stuffed Aubergine
ashusphotography- Walnut stuffed Eggplant slices

This walnut filled Eggplant slices are served cold, and the walnut filling is so tasty, bit sharper in taste with the added salts and spices, it perfectly balances the bland and soft fried Aubergine slices. I liked this dish and am going to include in my home menus, memories of our tour :).

ashusphotography-Georgian bread Shoti
ashusphotography-Georgian bread Shoti

This is the regular bread that is a must with all the meals. We saw many bakeries making fresh bread and the locals taking home the daily supplies of bread. Do check out my post on the bread here.

ashusphotography-Fresh fruits from the garden
ashusphotography-Fresh fruits from the garden

I do not have to remind you all how the freshly from the farm fruits taste, directly on table from the trees, they were the best and very juicy. It was great feeling to eat this fresh a fruit after ages, here we are dependent on fruits sold in the supermarkets which are flown from all parts of the world 🙂 !

ashusphotgraphy-Fried chicken
ashusphotgraphy-Fried chicken

Fried chicken is the simple rotisserie style fry chicken, with the Georgian salts.

ashusphotography-homemade honey
ashusphotography-homemade honey

This homemade honey was quite thick and very granular, tasted more like an Indian sweet. It was the sweetest granular sugar syrup I felt :), but this was very tasty.

The below pictures show the different drinks served with the meal, homemade Georgian wines. Chacha is the local name of Vodka. You can check out my post on the visit to wine cellar here.

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ashusphotography- The different types of homemade Georgian Wines.
ashusphotography- The different types of homemade Georgian Wines.

The wine plays a major role in the Supra. All the different types of wine, the red and white variety, and the Chacha and the Cognac were kept for tasting, but as I do not drink, it was left untouched.

ashusphotography-Fresh tomatoes and green chili
ashusphotography-Fresh tomatoes and green chili

We saw the farm after our lunch and saw the fresh tomatoes dangling on the plants in the farm. The green chili was freshly plucked for us upon our request for chili in the salad. It was interesting to note that for salad they keep the whole tomatoes and fruits in the plates on the table along with the knife to cut as per need and not served as cut salad. Our International travels expose us to the different and unique cultures of this world, the best form of gaining knowledge and interaction with other folks, don’t you agree!

I have learnt that the spice level in Georgian food is very mild compared to our daily Indian cooking. They use salts or spice paste called as Ajika, a mix of chili, garlic, herbs and spices in their cooking. We have to place an order for the spicy chutney or hot sauces separately with our dishes in the Restaurants, it is not served or kept on the table as in most other places. This was not known to us on the first day when we landed and ate our first lunch in Georgia. I purchased a hot sauce to add to our food, later the guide informed us that we can order the Ajika sauce that is spicy :).

This was the lunch that we ate that day, it was way too much for us to finish up all that was served in the table. The food was served in the many plates that are kept on the table, instead of big serving bowls. It was interesting to note the whole table was filled-up with plates full of the served dishes, serving plates, types of glasses, bottles of drinks, and bowls of honey and trays including the whole fruits and salad vegetables. We had a good hearty and tasty meal, the farmer was very friendly and was happily chatting and answering our queries, clicking pictures with us. Our guide was our translator 🙂 as the farmer could not speak English. The lady of the house was inside the house, she had just stepped out for sometime to greet us and then to bid us goodbye, but she was too sweet and soft spoken. The farmers mother too had greeted us and again went inside the house. I too had shared some dried fruits, Pistachios and the gulf region famous Dates with the family, who were happy to receive the Dates :). We finished up the lunch and then drank some black coffee, it was good.

After the lunch we visited the farmland that was in the adjacent plot and opposite to the house. He grew Strawberries, the best that I tasted, had Peaches laden trees, the grape vineyards, could see them with green unripe grape bunches. He had farm animals too-saw two fat pigs near the fence. He grew tomatoes, Eggplant, and potatoes too. Saw a bee-hive too. This farmer too had kept the wines bottles displayed for sale.

ashusphotography-Garlic hanging in their store room
ashusphotography-Garlic hanging in their store room
ashusphotgraphy-Strawberry plants
ashusphotgraphy-Strawberry plants

The farmers father was cleaning up the strawberry patch, he gave me few of the strawberries that he plucked from the plants, they were the best that I have eaten so far in my entire life. I have never before tasted strawberries this fresh, eaten directly plucked from the plants. The old man was very happy to share them with us.

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ashusphotography-fruit trees
ashusphotography-fruit treesimg_4411
ashusphotography-Grape vines
ashusphotography-Grape vines
ashusphotography-the farm
ashusphotography-the farm

This was our visit to the local farmer for a scrumptious Georgian lunch and to visit his farmland.The whole family works in the farm. This visit reminded me so much of my hubby’s late grandmother and our rural area visit in our hometown. Farmers are people who are self sufficient, living a simple and humble life, daily working very hard in their farmland. I had the privilege of visiting our grandmother’s rice fields and to live few days with her in the village, my most cherished memories of her.

I feel happy sharing here the pictures of the Georgian dishes that I ate during my travel, and hoping to hear your thoughts about this post. Wishing to see you visit here again 🙂 for my next posts.

Enjoy!!

ashu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia Travel Diary 5-Wine Cellar Visit

ashusPhotography-Georgian Wine
ashusPhotography-Georgian Wine

When visiting the beautiful country Georgia, one has to include visits to the lush green vineyards, orchards, wine cellars and not to forget to taste the locally made wine.

ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards on both sides of the road.
ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards
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ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards on both sides of the road.

Georgia is famous and known for its ancient traditional method of wine making, and this method is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list. Wine is a very integral part of every Georgian’s daily life with all the festivities and their different rituals. Wine making is a national occupation, almost all houses have grape vines growing in their land and the method of wine making is passed on from generations to generations. They use the wine making method in which an egg-shaped earthen clay pot known as Kvevri or Qvevri is used to make wine.(I am not sure about the spelling). The Georgian farmers use the Qvevri for making the wine, ageing it and then storing it. Hence this method of wine making is known as the Qvevri method.

ashusPhotography-Qvevri
ashusPhotography-Qvevri
ashusPhtograpy-Qvevri seen in Khareba Winery
ashusPhtograpy-Qvevri seen in Khareba Winery

Our Georgia tour package included a tour visit of a 300-year-old wine cellar as mentioned in the brochure given to us by our guide Nino. It was something new, different and  a fabulous experience to visit the wine cellar.

ashusPhotography-Wine cellar
ashusPhotography-Wine cellar
ashusPhotography-the wine being taken out from the qvevri that is seen buried in the ground in the wine cellar.
ashusPhotography-the wine cellar floor with the buried qvevris that are below the circular lids seen in the picture.
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ashusPhotography-the wine being taken out from the qvevri that is seen buried in the ground in the wine cellar.

The farmer had both the Red and White wines that he removed in front of us from the Qvevri that were buried deep in the ground in his cellar. The cellar was dark inside, no sunlight could come in, the walls were thick, stone and brick made. There were many old vessels, machinery, lamps, wine making tools and quite a number of assorted pots, pans, pitchers and jars that were displayed of which some might not be in use now.

ashusPhotography-wine making tools
ashusPhotography-wine making tools
ashusPhotography- The wine cellar with empty barrels, wine making tools, pots, and jars
ashusPhotography- The wine cellar with empty barrels, wine making tools, pots, and jars

Their were number of empty wine bottles stacked  very neatly in the wall, big jars, bottles filled with liquid and lemon cubes inside.

ashusPhotography-Stacked empty wine bottles
ashusPhotography-Stacked empty wine bottles

 

ashusPhotography-stacked empty bottles
ashusPhotography-Liquid filled bottle with lemon
ashusPhotograpy-wine jars/Pitchers
ashusPhotograpy-wine jars/Pitchers

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It is a Georgian tradition to offer the  local bread Shotti along with the wine, this farmer too offered us the bread. I loved the wine pots and pitchers, but unfortunately I could not buy any as souvenirs as I kept thinking I will see them some place, but did not like the ones that I came across in the souvenir shops.

ashusPhotography-wine offered for tasting and the Georgian bread called Shotti
ashusPhotography-wine offered for tasting and the Georgian bread called Shotti
ashusPhotograpy-Red wine being taken out for tasting from the buried qvevri.
ashusPhotograpy-Red wine being taken out for tasting from the buried qvevri.

Our guide Nino helped us understand how the wine is made, as the farmer could not speak English. I am writing and sharing here whatever I can recollect of the Georgian wine making method that she told us, everything was so new and interesting that I had no time to jot down each and every word of hers :).

The grapes are collected, pressed and the juice then poured into the Qvevri along with the skin, stalks, and the pips. It is then sealed and buried into the ground so that the wine can ferment for five or six months before it is opened and drunk. The wine is then kept for ageing. The Qvevri facilitates the process of  formation and ageing with the minerals that are part of it’s composition. This method of wine making is found all over the country. After the wine is removed the left over chacha-skin, stalks and pip is used to make the drink called chacha through a process, and this drink Chacha (Georgian name) is also know as Vodka. We can see that nothing from the grape plant is wasted, the whole plant gets used to make both the wine and Vodka. The local farmer at whose house we ate the Georgian lunch served us all types of drinks- Wine both red as well as white, Chacha/Vodka, and Champagne. I will make another post of the Georgian feast, Supra as they call it.

ashusPhotography-wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Picture showing a qvevri buried in the wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Picture showing a qvevri buried in the wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia

The grape varieties used determine if it is Red or White wine. We visited the many monasteries in the country and could see the wine cellars using this traditional wine making methods. The Rkatsteli and Mtsvane varieties of the grapes are used to produce the White wine. The Saperavi grape variety is used to make the Red wine.

ashusPhotography-Red wine
ashusPhotography-Red wine offered for tasting.
ashusPhotography-White wine
ashusPhotography-White wine offered from tasting

The Satsnakheli is a wooden trough usually made from a single wood that is used for as a manual foot stumping wine press.

ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli: a foot stumping wine press seen in wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli: a foot stumping wine press seen in wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia

It was no longer used by this wine maker as told by our guide. The grapes are put into the Satsnakheli, then manually foot pressed and the juice is directly collected in the Qvevri. Later the grape skins, stalks and pips left in the Satsnakheli are put into the Qvevris.

ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli that is no longer used for wine press by the wine maker.
ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli that is no longer used for wine press by the wine maker.

A visit to the wine cellar would not be complete if we did not buy the farmers homemade wine, and we bought one bottle of the red wine.

ashusPhotograpy-Our purchase of homemade Red wine bottle.
ashusPhotograpy-Our purchase of homemade Red wine bottle.

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As we sat and chatted along with our guide, the farmer was busy with another group of tourist who had come to visit his wine cellar.

ashusPhotography-Grape vine, Kiwi plants, qvevri in the courtyard of the local farmer
ashusPhotography-Grape vine, Kiwi plants, qvevri in the courtyard of the local farmer

As I already mentioned at the start of the post that this Qvevri method of wine making is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list, hence, if you are visiting Georgia, do visit a wine cellar or winery and see it in person and get the joy of tasting the local wines.

I had a great trip and hence wished to share few details of the trip for those tourists who look up websites, blogs for information before traveling or picking up a travel destination. Are you one of them?  I sure am :).

If you want to check out my other posts on Georgia click the below number links-

Georgia Travel diary 1,

Georgia Travel 2,

Georgia travel 3,

Georgia travel 4

Hope to see you back to check out my next post that will be on the Georgian Supra.

Enjoy! Happy Traveling 🙂

ashu