Destinations,  Asia,  Georgia

Everything You Need To Know About Vegetarian Georgian Food

Georgia (the country, not the state) is famous for its exceptional traditional cuisine. It would be normal to think, and you would be completely right, that most of the traditional dishes would include some type of meat. So, what about vegetarian Georgian food?

While Georgia might seem like a challenging destination for vegetarian travelers, fear not! Among the many meat-centric foods lies a world of incredible vegetarian dishes, proving the country’s diversity when it comes to its traditional cuisine.

Vegetarianism In Georgian Culture

Vegetarianism in Georgia is a true reflection of the country’s diversity. While Georgian cuisine has long been celebrated for its meat dishes, there is a growing awareness and appreciation for vegetarian options. 

Influenced by a history deeply rooted in agriculture, vegetarian Georgian food is often inspired by the fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains that thrive in the region. 

Many traditional dishes have been reimagined to fit vegetarian preferences, proving a creative adaptation of flavors and textures. Moreover, the concept of vegetarianism aligns with the love for nature and the land that is deeply rooted in Georgian culture. 

As a result, vegetarian cuisine is not merely a dietary choice but a celebration of the country’s agricultural heritage and harmonious relationship with the environment. 

Vegetarian restaurants, food markets, and events have emerged in recent years, fostering a sense of community among those who choose a plant-based lifestyle. This shift not only reflects the evolving tastes of Georgians but also exemplifies a cultural openness to embrace new horizons while honoring the country’s rich traditions.

Common Ingredients In Vegetarian Georgian Food

A Traditional Georgian meal at Tbilisi's Shavi Lomi, one of the most famous restaurants in the country.
A Traditional Georgian meal at Tbilisi’s Shavi Lomi, one of the most famous restaurants in the country.

Vegetarian Georgian cuisine is a blend of flavors, textures, and colors. Some of the staple ingredients that form the foundation of these dishes include:

  1. Walnuts: Walnuts are a staple of Georgian cuisine, adding a rich, creamy texture and nutty flavor to various dishes. They are used in sauces, spreads, and fillings, creating a unique taste that is hard to replicate.
  2. Pomegranate: The ruby-red jewels of pomegranate add freshness and tanginess to many dishes. Pomegranate seeds are often used as a garnish, lending a delightful crunch and a touch of sweetness.
  3. Herbs and Spices: Fresh herbs such as cilantro, dill, and parsley are frequently used to enhance the flavors of Georgian dishes. Khmeli suneli, a traditional spice blend, is another essential component, infusing dishes with warmth and complexity. Georgians use cilantro,, way too much cilantro. If someone from there is reading this…just why? Please stop putting so much in every dish. Okay, rant over, let’s proceed.
  4. Eggplant: A vegetable that can be treated in many different ways, eggplant is a star ingredient in Georgian cuisine. It is often roasted or grilled to create a smoky, tender base for various dishes.
  5. Cheese: Georgian cheese, especially sulguni and imeruli, plays a significant role in vegetarian dishes. It can be melted, grilled, or enjoyed on its own, adding a savory dimension to meals.

Is Food In Georgia Expensive?

Georgia is, in general, a very affordable place to travel to. Many people rank it among the cheapest countries in the world. As in every place, restaurants can be ranked from low-to high end. With that in mind, you should not expect to pay more than 15-20 euros per person in a middle-to-high-end restaurant.

Generally, it won’t be hard to find more budget-friendly options, like international fast food chains or traditional Georgian food from bakeries, street vendors, or markets. If, on the other hand, you want to fine dining, there are also options, but at a higher price.

Georgia is truly a destination for all wallets!

15 Vegetarian Georgian Food Dishes You Need To Try!

1. Khachapuri

The Imeretian khachapuri, a pie with a golden, doughy crust that has a generous filling of Sulguni cheese
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Immeretian Khachapuri

Starting off strongly with Georgia’s National dish! Khachapuri, the beloved cheese-filled bread, is a masterpiece that shows the heart and soul of Georgian cuisine. With its golden, crusty exterior and molten cheese center, khachapuri is a proper comfort food that brings people together around the table.

The most famous types of khachapuri are the classic Imeretian khachapuri, with its simplicity and the Adjarian khachapuri boat filled with butter and egg.

The Imeretian khachapuri, maybe the most famous type of the classic dish, is like a pie with a golden, doughy crust that has a generous filling of Sulguni cheese inside, allowing its natural flavors to shine through. The result is a variety of creamy and slightly salty notes that combine to create a truly satisfying experience.

The Adjarian khachapuri that resembles a boat and consists of a golden crust enveloping a filling of cheese, butter, and an egg
ლევან ქოქიაშვილი, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Adjarian khachapuri, on the other hand, resembles a boat and consists of a golden crust enveloping a filling of cheese, butter, and an egg. The harmony of flavors and textures creates a perfect balance between the saltiness of the cheese, the richness of the butter, and the creaminess of the egg yolk. With its interesting presentation and delicious taste, the Adjarian Khachapuri has it all. It is my personal favorite!

The main place that we could find the Adjarian Kachapuri was, for some reason Tbilisi. One thing is for sure, Khachapuri is the king of vegetarian Georgian food!

2. Lobiani (Bean-Filled Bread)

Lobiani, a type of Georgian bread filled with mashed beans
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Lobiani

Lobiani is a type of Georgian bread filled with mashed beans, often including onions and herbs. The dough is folded over the filling and baked until golden brown. The combination of warm filling and fluffy bread creates a satisfying dish that’s a staple in Georgian households.

3. Mkhlovani

Mkhlovani, a pie filled with herbs, aVegetarian Georgian Food staple
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Mkhlovani

Another vegetarian Georgian food that is a personal favorite! Mkhlovani, a pie filled with herbs, is another proof of Georgia’s masterclass when it comes to pastry. While not as famous as Khachapuri, it can certainly challenge it with its aromatic flavor and crunchy exterior.

We found this restaurant on our way to Kazbegi. Make sure to give it a try! A very traditional, cozy, and cheap place to stop for lunch.

4. Vegetarian Khinkali

A traditional georgian feast. It includes Khinkali and Mkhlovani
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Khinkhali

Khinkali, Georgia’s iconic dumplings, take on a vegetarian twist that’s equally delightful and satisfying. While traditionally filled with meat, vegetarian khinkali offers a lot of flavor with fillings like mushrooms, cheese, potato, or a mix of seasonal vegetables.

They are not only a treat for the taste buds but also a celebration of the artistry that goes into creating these delicate dumplings. Served with a sprinkle of black pepper and enjoyed with friends and family, they are as traditional as it gets!

We had the best Khinkali at the same restaurant we had Mkhlovani. It is definitely a place worth checking out with plenty of vegetarian Georgian food options.

5. The Pkhali Trio

The Pkhali trio including spinach, beetroot, and herbs,
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Pkhali

Pkhali is a beloved Georgian appetizer that features a large variety of ingredients mixed with finely ground walnuts. The Pkhali trio includes spinach, beetroot, and herbs, each offering a distinct flavor profile.

The ingredients are combined with aromatic spices, garlic, and vinegar, resulting in a colorful and flavorful spread. I also found one with carrots, and it was maybe my favorite of all!

Pkhali is a vegetarian Georgian food that is traditionally served with bread, making it a perfect starter for your Georgian culinary adventure.

6. Badrijani Nigvzit (Georgian Eggplant Rolls)

Badrijani Nigvzit, slices of eggplant rolled around a filling of spiced walnut paste.
salvagekat, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Badrijani Nigvzit is a popular vegetarian Georgian food dish that features slices of eggplant rolled around a filling of spiced walnut paste. The eggplant rolls are then garnished with pomegranate seeds, creating a delightful combination of textures and flavors.

The savory richness of the walnut filling fits perfectly the tender eggplant, resulting in a dish that’s both satisfying and full of character. These elegant rolls that look a bit like Pkhali are sure to impress both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

7. Lobio (Georgian Bean Stew)

Lobio, a traditional Georgian bean stew, is a dish perfect for vegetarians
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Lobio

Lobio, a traditional Georgian bean stew, is a dish perfect for vegetarians. Cooked beans are flavored with aromatic herbs, garlic, onions, and a touch of traditional Georgian spices.

The end product is a flavorful and nutritious stew that captures the essence of Georgian home cooking. Enjoy it with a side of fresh bread for a very satisfying meal!

8. Mushroom Chakapuli

Chakapuli, a beloved Georgian stew traditionally made with meat, gets a vegetarian twist with mushrooms as the main ingredient.
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Mushroom Chakapuli

Chakapuli, a beloved Georgian stew traditionally made with meat, gets a vegetarian twist with mushrooms as the main ingredient.

The mushrooms are cooked with aromatic herbs, tarragon, and tkemali (sour plum sauce), creating a hearty and flavorful dish. Mushroom chakapuli showcases the harmony of herbs and spices that define Georgian cuisine.

9. Ajapsandali (Georgian Vegetable Stew)

Ajapsandali,a vegetable stew twith cubes of eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions.
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Ajapsandali

Ajapsandali is a flavorful vegetable stew that celebrates the bounty of Georgian produce. Cubes of eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions are stewed together with aromatic herbs and spices. The result is a hearty, aromatic dish perfect for vegetarians seeking comfort and nourishment.

10. Elarji

Elarji, a combination of ground cornmeal and grated Sulguni cheese
Elarji fried balls are a different approach to the classic dish.

Elarji is a perfect combination of ground cornmeal and grated Sulguni cheese. Two simple ingredients are transformed into a comforting delicacy.

11. Georgian Cucumber and Tomato Salad (Salata)

Salata is a simple yet refreshing salad that highlights the vibrant flavors of Georgia’s fresh produce. Slices of cucumber and tomato are combined with red onion, herbs, and a light dressing. That’s the definition of vegetarian Georgian food!

The salad’s simplicity allows the natural flavors to shine, making it a perfect side dish to complement the bold flavors of Georgian cuisine. Again, Georgia, I love your food, but why so much cilantro?

12. Mushrooms Stuffed With Cheese

 Vegetarian Georgian Food: Mushrooms Stuffed With Cheese
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Mushrooms Stuffed With Cheese

Stuffed Georgian cheese mushrooms present a delicious out-of-the-ordinary dish, embodying the country’s skill at blending different ingredients.

This starter consists of mushrooms generously packed with a blend of native cheeses, like sulguni and imeruli, and of course with added herbs and spices. Then, it is baked until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese turns molten.

This dish somehow manages to combine perfectly the taste of the mushroom with the savouriness of the cheese. Highly recommended!

13. Georgian Wine

This is not exactly a vegetarian dish, but more like a honorable mention. Did you know that Georgia is the birthplace of wine? Georgian wine is celebrated for its rich history and unique flavors. Each sip unveils layers of complexity, creating an amazing feeling.

This vegetarian-friendly drink complements vegetable-centric dishes and serves as an exellent side to elevate the dining experience.

14. Churchkhela

Churchkhela,made by stringing walnuts or other nuts onto a thread and dipping them into a thickened mixture of grape or fruit juice and flour
Levan Gokadze (uploaded by Giorgi Balakhadze), via Wikimedia Commons

Churchkhela, often called “Georgian Snickers,” is a unique and tasty treat. I don’t know who made this resemblance; I would never think of calling them this way.

Made by stringing walnuts or other nuts onto a thread and dipping them into a thickened mixture of grape or fruit juice and flour, churchkhela is left to dry, creating a colorful and nutritious snack. The result is a natural energy boost, combining nuts’ earthiness with fruit juices’ sweetness.

Churchkhela is very cheap and can fill your stomach for hours to come. They can last for months before being consumed, making them the perfect gift to bring home. The best think is, it can be found everywhere in the country. Highly recommended to try!

15. Wine Ice Cream

Wine Ice Cream found in Mtskheta, Georgia in a modern-style cup
Vegetarian Georgian Food: Wine Ice Cream

I know it may sound crazy, but hear me out! Georgia’s love of wine takes a creative turn with wine ice cream, a treat combining two beloved elements. The rich flavors of Georgian wine find their way into ice cream, making it some of the best I’ve ever had!

Wine ice cream can be easily spotted in Mtskheta. I just wish I had more than one! Whether enjoyed on a warm day or as a memorable dessert, wine ice cream is made for the senses.

Final Thoughts

While Georgia’s culinary heritage is deeply rooted in meat-based dishes, its vegetarian offerings are equally captivating and delicious. From hearty stews to flavorful appetizers, vegetarian Georgian food offers a wide variety of flavors that reflect the country’s rich history and cultural diversity.

Whether you’re a dedicated vegetarian or simply seeking to explore new horizons, Georgia’s vegetarian delights promise a journey of taste that’s as unforgettable as the landscapes that surround you.

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