Georgia Calling: A Spotlight on Veg-Friendly Cuisine!
Every country and region has its own specialties when it comes to food. Georgia, in my mind, has some of the most filling, nutritious and delicious vegan and vegetarian foods I have ever tried.
Since the dishes I am talking about are traditional, and not substitution-based, I credit this mostly to their wide use of beans, and more importantly, the incredible spices used, which I find myself bringing more and more back home after every visit!
While for countries in this region it may be commonplace to have meat as the centerpiece, vegetarians, vegans, and those who are simply veg-curious should be aware to pay special attention to the ‘side-dishes’ that can often be overlooked, as those are where the gems tend to be! Here are some of my favourite options from Georgian veg-friendly cuisine, and I hope to continue discovering more:
Photo by Serda Ozbenian
While a bean stew in a clay pot may not sound very exotic, this is where the spices Georgians use, such as khmeli-suneli, come into play. The resulting beans are hearty, filling, mixed with a myriad of flavours, and perfect to split with some friends, or as a full meal itself! I never knew beans could taste this good.
The name may seem a little strange, but there is nothing not to love about this dish! Beet greens, spinach, garlic, walnuts, and of course some Georgian spices make the whole, which can be flattened like in this picture, or served as individual balls, topped with dried or fresh (depending on season) pomegranate. For plant-based eaters trying to find healthy and delicious food native to where they are traveling, this dish is absolutely perfect.
Eggplants with walnut paste
While I can be a bit picky when it comes to eating eggplant, I am so happy I gave this dish a try! Sliced eggplants that are soft and tender topped with a creamy walnut paste, with the great add-on of dried or fresh pomegranate! While this is most likely to remain a side dish rather than a full meal, it should not be excluded when ordering!
While khatchapuri and perashki (dough with cheese or potato respectively) reign supreme in Armenia in terms of fast food, Georgians liven up food-to-go with a delicious alternative called lobiani. It is a round-shaped dough stuffed with mashed beans, and of course, spices! A much more filling option compared to khatchapuri, and a lot healthier than perashki, so if you need tasty veg food on the go, this is your best choice!
Simple salad, Georgian style
While the tomato and cucumber salad is very popular in this region, I was pleasantly surprised in Georgia to see that this staple had one additional ingredient, which made it healthier and more filling—walnuts! A welcome extra that compliments this popular salad and makes it a little more exciting!
So when traveling to Georgia, on top of hiking, swimming and seeing the many attractions, make sure to try the delicious vegetarian and vegan food that is part of the local cuisine. Your taste buds will thank you!
What are you favourite Georgian dishes?