Meskhetian Khachapuri

Meskhetian Khachapuri

Meskhetian khachapuri is an outstanding Georgian culinary product that has been recognized as an Intangible Monument of Cultural Heritage. Of the many kinds of khachapuri, this is the most difficult to make and requires special knowledge. The preparation process is almost a ritual and is impressive to see. Meskhetian khachapuri is also called chalma khachapuri, due to its shape (“chalma” means “turban” in Georgian).

Key ingredients

Meskhetian khachapuri is made with filo dough or partially-filo dough, so the bread flour must be white and of high quality. 

Farmers have grown unique, thick-eared varieties of wheat in Samtskhe-Javakheti since time immemorial. In addition to limestone granaries, they store the grain in large agricultural storehouses called “lazambari”, as they were first developed by the Laz in southern Georgia. 

The second main ingredient in Meskhetian khachapuri is fat. This can be clarified butter obtained from milk and pig fat, or it can be the fat of birds, like ducks or geese. However, it is said that the best Meskhetian khachapuri is made with pig fat.

The third main ingredient is Meskhetian cheese such as tenili, chechili, chogi, and kalti. Usually, both fresh cheese and tenili cheese are used to make Meskhetian khachapuri.

The traditional preparation process

Traditionally, making Meskhetian khachapuri requires a large table in order to spread out the prepared dough. The dough is kneaded with warm water, salt, and a small amount of yeast. It is made into balls and left to sit for one hour in a bowl covered with a towel. Then it is split into small balls and left to sit again for a short time before being flattened.

Each ball is first flattened with a wooden stick, called an “ukhlavi”, then spread over the table and pulled by the edges by hand so that they turn into extremely thin sheets, ideally by two people. Then they are spread evenly with fat and folded over. This is repeated a few times, then the dough is rolled into the shape of a turban, the inside is filled with cheese, the top is glued together and squished down, flattened by hand, then rounded. After that, a paste of beaten egg yolks and sour cream is spread over it, and then it is baked in the oven. In Meskhetian villages there are still stone ovens, where the Meskhetian khachapuri is, traditionally, baked once more over firewood.

Recipe for Meskhetian Khachapuri

1 kg bread flour;

500 ml warm water;

1 tsp salt;

1 tsp yeast;

1 kg cheese;

400 g fat; 

2 eggs.

Put the flour in a bowl and add the yeast, salt, and warm water. While kneading it, add one egg. The finished dough should be somewhat firm. Cover a board with flour, then put the dough on it and work it with your hands again. Then put it in a bowl, cover it, and let it sit. After an hour, take the flour balls back to the board, separate them into equal pieces, and let them sit again for about 20 minutes, so they will be easy to flatten.

Spread the fat over the whole surface and let it sit for a few minutes, so the dough can set well. After spreading fat over each layer, you should let the dough sit for five to ten minutes, so the layer can completely and evenly absorb the fat. Start flattening the filled layers from the middle, so that the cheese spreads well into the sides.

Put a little bit of flour on the pieces that are ready to be baked, then take the prepared khachapuri to be baked and make a small hole in the middle. You can also poke it with a fork. Make sure to bake the khachapuri in a pre-heated over at 200 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. When it turns golden brown, the khachapuri is ready.


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