Narchvi Cheese

Narchvi Cheese

If you have not yet had the good fortune to try the Georgian cheese Narchvi, then make sure you do soon! For many years, Narchvi was seen only as a domestic cheese, something made and served in the (rural) home. However, now it is made commercially too and is widely considered a valued delicacy. Indeed, the Georgian National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation has granted the tradition of preparing narchvi the status of a Monument of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

What is Narchvi Cheese and How is it Made?

“Narchvi” means “gathered” in the Svan language, spoken in Georgia’s northwestern mountainous region of Svaneti. It was probably named as such because it is made from cheese specially collected over two-day periods, usually from August to late autumn, and then stored for winter. Narchvi is made from natural cow’s milk, with salt added, kneaded (like dough) for a long time, and stored in special wooden boxes.

The storage boxes are made of thick planks of deciduous wood and closed tightly, so the cheese keeps its shape when compressed. The cheese is squeezed out, stuffed into a box, allowed to ripen, and then formed under pressure. Overall, the cheese-making process takes two months.

Narchvi is used to make Chvishtari, while khachapuri baked with Narchvi has a unique and delicious taste, often accompanied by green onions and even hemp seeds.

“This cheese is a gift from God, and that is no exaggeration, because I tasted, in Svaneti, a truly exceptional cheese. It is made from cow’s milk, with a deep and intense flavor, called ‘narchvi.’” This is how globally-renowned magazine Saveur described Narchvi in an article in 2019 bearing the title “Georgia’s Forgotten Cheese.”

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