Among the many types of Georgian khachapuri, the Meskhetian khachapuri is one of the most difficult to prepare and requires special knowledge. The process of making it is like a ritual and a real spectacle in itself. Skilled cooks used to prepare Meskhetian khachapuri by themselves, but ideally two people are involved.
Exclusive to Meskhetian cuisine is goose apokhti khinkali, the tradition of which was established in almost all villages of Meskheti. Apokhti is a variety of salted and dried meat, which Meskhetians used to treat special guests with. It was always a fixture on the New Year's table. In shape, it is rectangular and completely different from ordinary khinkali.
Chechili and tenili cheeses are real masterpieces of Meskhetian cuisine. The method of their preparation is an ancient tradition and since 2013 it has had the status of a monument of the intangible cultural heritage of Georgia.
Only in Meskheti will you see how families prepare gozinaki with mulberry bakmazi (condensed mulberry juice) for New Year's Eve. This is a truly unique sweet treat, the recipe for which is held sacred by cooks here. Bakmazi is made from both white and black mulberries, is called "Meskhetian honey" and used in various dishes.
Kada was also baked in Meskheti as part of the New Year's festive table. This is a hearty baked pastry made with pork fat, prepared in a special way to this day. Nazuki is a type of Meskhetian bread, which can be found in many other places as well. Although, pasali– an empty folded pastry - is known only in Meskheti.
Bazlama is a type of baked good prepared on a special stove, named saji. This has a large, round iron shape, which is heated well, with the kneaded dough be stuck on it. Eventually, a thin, as Meskhetians call it - full moon-shaped bread, known as bazlama, is produced. The Meskhetians also produce another type of baked bread, called ukha, which is thin and flat.
Samtskhe-Javakheti is considered the birthplace of Georgian grain crops. Indeed, cereal crops have been well-developed in Meskheti since time immemorial. Accordingly, they had a variety of flour products in this area, with many types of wheat grown. Wheat is called doli by Meskhetians, and wheat bread is called doli bread. Many types of bread are baked in Meskheti including lavashi, shoti, kokora, long lavashi, somini, and thitiani.
Dishes prepared with wheat flour are another interesting facet of Meskhetian cuisine. Tutmaji is special in such dishes, as the dough is divided into two parts: one part is cut into thin strips, cooked in water mixed with sour milk or “do” (the remaining mass after pouring the sour milk and removing the butter), and the other is made into dough balls, which are fried in fat. Finally, they are mixed together and turns out sour (preferably slightly sour), with salt and erbo (melted butter) added.
Tatarberaki is a dish prepared from unleavened dough whereby thin lavash is spread, cut into square pieces, boiled in water, with sour cream or “do” poured over the bowls, and then fried onions are mixed with erbo and garlic water is poured over it.
Katmari is also referred to as “nine-leaved.” Many layers of the dough are rolled out like kada, smeared with erbo and rolled by hand, baked on a pan, on a griddle pan, and in the oven. Meskhetians don't add anything to their beloved katmari.
Bishi is a leavened dough fried in erbo and it is prepared less often, mainly when visiting someone or waiting for a guest. It is served with honey or sugar, as well as with cheese and pickles. The Meskhetians put the cut dough in boiling oil, take it out, and make it sweet or salty, according to their taste.
Dough is rubbed with water and warm milk, while baking soda and vinegar are also necessary because the dough needs to rise. Here, the flour should be mixed gradually, so that we can easily remove it with a spoon. We pour it into the boiled erbo and bake it in small cubes.
Nakhicho is a special dish. When cattle are slaughtered in Meskheti, almost all of their parts are processed and used. In particular, pieces of fat are kept and melted. The same approach is taken whether it be a cow, a pig, or a bird (i.e. goose, duck, or turkey). Of these, the most fragrant is, of course, pork fat. They cut it into small pieces, throw it in cold running water, wash it well, and wipe its surface. As soon as it dries, it is melted at a low heat. Then, once the foam has been removed and it has been cleaned, they put it on the tushphalang (strainer) and separate the melted fat from the waste. These leftovers are rinds, which are salted and used in dishes, eaten with bread. They also bake cakes and pies with it, and even mix it in khinkali.