Хачапури (khachapuri) is one of the most beloved of the Georgian foods adopted into the Russian tradition. That is a major achievement, as Georgian cuisine is itself one of the most beloved of all those among the former Soviet peoples. It is enjoyed in Russia, throughout the former Soviet space, and around the world. The dish itself is simple, hearty, travels well, and is mouthwateringly delicious. So, what is it? Cheesy bread!
Почему носит такое название?
The name “хачапури” comes from the Georgian names for curd cheese (хачо) and bread (пури). One note that we should probably make here is that Georgian does not use the Cyrillic alphabet officially. So, we are providing the words here in Cyrillic for the benefit of students of Russian. However, “хачапури” written in Georgian would actually look like this: ხაჭაპური.
There are many different regional variations of хачапури, and each is generally named for the region and/or people who are best known for making it. The most common types of xачапури available in Russia are: хачапури по-имеретински (Imeretian Katchapori); хачапури по-аджарски (Adjarian Katchapori); and хачапури по-армянски (Armenian khachapuri)
Хачапури по-имеретински is named for the Kingdom of Imeriti, one of several great kingdoms that once made up Georgia’s shifting medieval political landscape. This version presupposes a circular dough stuffed with cheese, oil and/or butter on the inside and pan-fried.
Хачапури по-аджарски is named for Adjara, an autonomous republic in Georgia. Its dough is folded into a boat shape with the cheese inside exposed. It is oven-baked and, as it comes out, a raw egg is dropped into the center of the cheese with a pat of butter. The heat from the cheese cooks the egg to a sunny-side-up consistency.
Хачапури по-армянски is the variety most often found in Russian kiosks. This type is most associated with the Armenians, an ethnic group completely separate from the Georgians who have their own country and history. Their version of this dish has the cheese wrapped inside a puff pastry which is usually triangular or square in shape.
Two other versions worth mentioning are хачапури по-мегрельски (Mingrelian Katchapori) and лобиани (lobiani). Mingrelian Katchapori was named for the Megrelia region along Georgia’s Black Sea coast. They put cheese inside and on top of what otherwise looks much like хачапури по-имеретински. Also of interest is a close relative of хачапури that hails from Racha, a former kingdom in the North of Georgia whose main city is said to have been founded in the 2nd century. This great and ancient kingdom altered хачапури by replacing the cheese filling with a mixture of beans, back fat, and bacon. The resulting dish is usually called “лобиани” which comes from the Georgian word for “bean.”
Как правильно есть хачапури?
It is a good bet that the name of this wonderful dish is so simple because it is so very common. Хачапури is a staple food in Georgia, and is, in fact, so often prepared that the fluctuating cost of making the dish is now being used as an inflation index in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. In Russia, the dish is also quite common, and requires no special occasion to be a cherished food item!
As with most breads, хачапури is most often consumed by hand. It can be found in kiosks in Russia and in kiosks and roadside stands throughout Georgia. The dish can also be eaten with a knife and fork, as, depending upon who is cooking it and how fresh it is, the cheesy goodness inside tends to overflow its doughy boundaries.
Хачапури goes incredibly well with red wine (another food that at which the Georgians excel) and can often constitute a meal in itself.
Как правильно готовить хачапури?
It is impossible to point to any one correct way of preparing хачапури, namely because the variations on the recipe are endless. There are, however, some basic points of interest that are worth mentioning. There are two foundational methods of preparation: on the stovetop with a pan or in an oven. The pan method is recommended for those preparing the хачапури using fermented milk products (traditionally matzoon (мацони) – a Caucasian fermented milk product resembling kefir) as a leavening agent. If making хачапури with yeast, or, as has become popular in recent times, if making a puff pastry variant, it is recommended to bake the dish in an oven.
There is some disagreement as to which cheeses should be used in the filling. There are traditional cheeses such as the Georgian сулугуни (Suluguni) and имеретинский (Imeretian). In modern times there is also increasing use of common foreign cheeses such as feta and mozzarella. It is widely agreed, however, that it is best to use a mixture of two or three cheeses in the interests of both taste and avoidance of clumping. There is also some dispute over whether one might add herbs such as parsley, dill, or cilantro to the cheese filling; many say it is strictly forbidden and ruins the taste, others think it a normal and tasty addition.
See below for a free recipe for khachapuri. See also the free videos online. If you are interested in cooking from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and other places in Eurasia, make sure to see our full, free Eurasian Cookbook online! You might also be interested in the following specialized cookbooks we’ve enjoyed:
|Имеретинский хачапури||Imeretian khachapuri|
*Georgian recipes usually use the traditionally Georgian cheeses brynza, suluguni and/or Imeretian. Feta and mozzarella can be substituted when these are not available.
|Лепешки “Лобиани” (рача)||Lobiani Flat Bread|
|Хачапури по-аджарски||Adjarian khachapuri|
|Главным отличием хачапури по-аджарски является их форма. Хачапури формируется “лодочкой”, с открытой начинкой. Когда готовые хачапури вынимают из печи, в каждое из них выкладывают кусочек масла и сырое яйцо, которое готовится жаром самого пирога. По желанию, яйцо можно выложить на сыр за несколько минут до готовности, позволив ему запечься в духовке.
Шеф-повар одного из известных ресторанов предлагает рецепт хачапури по-аджарски и поясняет, как его правильно есть.
|For a great recipe to try this version of khachapuri that cooks an egg in the middle of the “bread boat” loaf, see TheFreshLoaf.com.
For a more authentic version, just make the boat smaller and, as you take the bread out of the oven, place a pad of butter on the cheese followed immediately by a raw egg and let cool.
Our Favorite khachapuri Videos
Nicely filmed video showing us how to prepare the tricky, but often considered most beautiful and tasty form of хачапури – the Adjarian “boat.” The narrator speaks in very clear Russian and also performs all the steps as she speaks, making it a great how-to follow-along.
Very entertaining cooking program that shows how to prepare cheese-topped хачапури по-мегрельски. Very professionally done with a wonderful backdrop and enthusiastic host. Quite interesting as the show (Smachno!) for which this is a feature is a Ukrainian-Georgian collaboration.
News video/interview about the appearance of a Georgian café in the center of Moscow. Note that neither the owner/entrepreneur nor the servers are ethnic Georgians. Swanky new approach to the old хачапурная (khatchapurnaya – khachapuri bakery).
About the author:
Jordan Bryant recently graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Slavic Languages & Literatures. She has previously spent two summers studying abroad in St. Petersburg and one in Prauge. She is currently participating in SRAS’s Home and Abroad Program in Vladivostok, Russia.