You can’t be in Georgia for long without running into khachapuri, though it comes in all shapes and sizes, flavours and hues, depending on where in Georgia you find it. The type most commonly found in Tbilisi is Imeritian khachapuri, which is round and covered with melted cheese like a pizza, but that’s where the similarity ends. Khachapuri dough is made with flour, eggs, sour cream and melted butter to achieve a crumbly-but-chewy texture halfway between pastry and bread. Often a combination of smoked and unsmoked Georgian sulguni cheese is used to stuff the khachapuri, which is then baked to crisp and golden perfection.
The sumptuous smell of khachapuri can be found wafting from bakeries all over Georgia. In Samegrelo the Mingrelian khachapuri is round with a heavy cheese topping. The Ossetian khachapuri is stuffed with a mixture of potato and cheese. Then there’s the khachapuri from the self-proclaimed independent state of Abkhazia to the north west of Georgia, which has layer upon layer of cheese and pastry like a crispy lasagna.
But perhaps the most delicious of all is the Adjarian khachapuri. The dough is flattened, pinched at both ends and shaped like a boat before being scattered with cheese and then baked. As a final touch, more grated cheese is added to the inside of the ‘boat‘ along with a knob of butter and a raw egg, which is mixed together to make a gloriously rich and runny topping.
Khachapuri is such a fundamental part of Georgian culture and society that it is used to track inflation. Drawing inspiration from The Economist’s Big Mac Index, the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University invented the Khachapuri Index to chart price rises in Georgia’s main cities. And you thought khachapuri was just for eating.