Great Georgian Food in Doha
Georgia and Traditional Georgian Cuisine
Georgia is a nation at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, bounded by Russia and the great Caucasus mountains to the north, the Black Sea to the West, Azerbaijan and Armenia to the east and southeast, and Turkey to the southwest.
In the past, Georgia was a strategically important country along the old Silk Road trade route that linked China, the Far East and the Middle East to Europe. Though an independent country with its own culture and identity, Georgia's favourable geographical location between major Silk Road trading countries meant that it was the subject of invasion and occupation throughout history. The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Mongols, Russians, Ottomans, Persians, Germans and the British have all fought to take control of the nation and its advantageous position. Centuries of trade, war and occupation left many marks on the country's identity and influenced many aspects of its culture, from its architecture, music, literature, art, national dress, religion and, of course, its cuisine.
Throughout history, Georgian cuisine has borrowed and assimilated many ingredients, flavours and cooking techniques from passing traders and occupying countries. Similarities in Georgian recipes can be easily spotted in dishes from Greece, Mongolia, Turkey and the Arab nations. However, the Georgians have made those recipes their own using fresh, local ingredients and flavours. Indeed, the Georgian's famed use of local produce, plus the nation's regional topography and climate (the mountainous, cooler north, the subtropical lowlands to the West, the warm plains to the East and the plateaus of the south) have led to many regional recipe variations and a great diversity of foods across the country. For example, cornbread, chicken and turkey are favoured in the West, while in the East, bread baked in traditional clay ovens (tonés) and pork, beef, or mutton dishes are more prominent.
Georgian cuisine is simple but rich, flavourful food made with fresh produce full of nutrients, so naturally healthy. Cuisine generally incorporates numerous essential ingredients, including walnuts (to thicken, flavour and add texture), Georgian cheeses, fresh vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, garlic, aubergine and potatoes), fresh and dried fruit (pomegranate, apricots, grapes and cherry plums), herbs (coriander, celery leaves, bay leaves, tarragon, yellow marigold and fenugreek), spices (especially the spice mix Khmeli-Suneli), eggs and meat. Many of these ingredients can be found in the country's national and most popular dishes, including:
Image: Forbes Georgia
- Khachapuri Adjaruli – Most Georgian meals are accompanied by bread, usually cooked in a toné, but Khachapuri Adjaruli is the most beloved and considered a national dish. The traditional leavened bread is shaped like a rounded canoe with melted cheese baked into the middle. A knob of butter and a cracked egg are added just before serving, which you must mix with the cheese before eating.
- Khinkali – another national dish, Khinkali, is based on Chinese dumplings. However, the dumpling is boiled and has a thicker skin than the Asian version. Khinkali dumplings are shaped into small, rounded vessels, traditionally filled with minced meat with herbs and spices, and a clear meaty broth, and sealed by twisting the dough at the top of the package into a stem. The stem of the Khinkali is used to pick up the morsel, which must then be bitten into, the soup sucked out, and the rest eaten (except for the stem). Eat the Khinkali with a knife and fork, and you will be the subject of great mirth!
- Lobio – This dish is made predominantly from red kidney beans, crushed with a mortar and pestle and slow-cooked with fried onions, coriander, vinegar, dried marigold and chillis to the consistency of a stew or a soup. Generally, Lobio is served with Georgian bread.
- Kharco – Kharco is the ultimate Georgian comfort food – a soup or stew with tender chicken or beef, cooked for hours in a sauce made from garlic, cherry plum puree, walnuts, rice, coriander, sour tklapi (dried fruit), and Khmeli-Suneli (a Georgian spice mix made with coriander seeds, basil, marjoram, dill, red pepper powder, saffron, fenugreek, bay leaf, mint, celery and parsley).
- Chakhokhbili – Another hearty stew, Chakhokhbili is a one-pot dish made from a whole chicken chopped up and stewed in tomatoes, garlic, herbs and spices, typically served with rice or bread.
- Mtsvadi – Mtsvadi is a simple dish of slated meat (generally beef or lamb, chunked and skewered) grilled over charcoal. The succulent meat is served with fresh salad and Tkemali sauce (sour plum sauce).
- Georgian Salad – Much like Greek Salad, Georgian Salad is a mix of chunky tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. However, the Georgian Salad is topped with crushed walnuts, pomegranate seeds and Khmeli-Suneli.
- Churchkhela – Churchkhela is a sweet food traditionally made from walnuts and concentrated grape juice. The walnuts are stringed, and layers of grape juice are poured over the nut strands, encasing them like a sausage skin. The chewy, waxy exterior and nuts are packed with proteins and sugar and were, of old, a source of shelf-stable nutrition during the winter months. The sweet can be eaten alone or served with cheese and honey.
Great Georgian Food in Doha
Doha is a melting pot for international cuisines, with enormous numbers of eateries from Asia, the Far East, Europe, and the Americas. However, Georgian cuisine is relatively new on the city's dining scene. There are only two Georgian restaurants in the city, and both opened relatively recently. Nonetheless, both venues offer a delightful introduction to Georgian fare, offering traditional and authentic dishes, from the most favoured and well-known plates to recipes from various regions across the country. Both eateries are fast becoming favourite dining haunts with Doharites, so we believe there may be a few more Georgian eateries in the city before too long. If you haven't tried Georgian food before, we suggest heading to the following two spots to find out what all the fuss is about:
Al Terrace Doha
Al Terrace, Qatar’s first Georgian restaurant to open in Doha, is found at the entrance to the city’s traditional Arabian bazaar, Souq Waqif, at the Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel – from the renowned international luxury brand hoteliers, Tivoli. And if you are looking for Georgian food done well while immersed in beautiful surroundings with culture and heritage abound, Al Terrace is a great spot.
Al Terrace is housed in a serene, white, traditional five-story building that overlooks the main cobbled walkway that winds through the market. And, though the restaurant has a cool and elegant indoor dining area, from the outdoor terrace, you can look out and admire the traditional limestone and clay buildings that line the walkway, housing restaurants, cafes, art galleries, hotels, and shops, and watch the world go by as you tuck into some excellent food.
With the words ‘a piece of Georgia in Doha’ as their motto, Al Terrace serves traditional, homemade Georgian cuisine, using fresh ingredients cooked by Georgian chefs using authentic cooking methods. The menu is plentiful and includes many dishes that the Georgians are famous for from various regions, including Khinkali, Khachapuri, Kharcho, Pkhali, Lobio, Chakhokbili, and Mtsvadi.
Our favourites, from our many visits, include the hearty Chashushuli – veal fried and stewed in tomatoes, the succulent Prawn Mtsvadi – charcoal grilled prawns with onions, potatoes, and Georgian bread, the deliciously tender and tasty Odjaxuri – roasted chicken mixed with potatoes, onions, fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds, and, of course, the Adjarian Khachapuri!
So, if we have made you salivate, take a trip to Al Terrace, relax in the traditional, homely surroundings of the terrace, listen to some Georgian music, and toast the great Georgian food you’re served.
Food at Al Terrace is mid-range in terms of costs. Starters, salads and soups cost between QAR 25 – 45, Khachapuri and Khinkali from QAR 50 – 55, mains and gills between QAR 38 – 65 (although a mixed grill for 2-4 persons is QAR 240), and desserts from QAR 25 – 55.
Location: Al Terrace, Al Mirqab Hotel, Souq Waqif
(nearest Metro station, Souq Waqif on the Gold Line)
Opening Hours: Sunday to Wednesday, 3 pm – 12 am
Thursday to Saturday, 4 pm – 1 am
Contact: +974 3032 0031
As one of Georgia's most successful luxury restaurants, the owners of Mosavali Georgia have brought their lavish dining experience to Doha to showcase the best of Georgian cuisine and culture. If you are keen to try Georgian food, made with the finest ingredients, surrounded by lavish and opulent interiors, head straight to Mosavali; you won't be disappointed!
Located in the Printemps Department Store at Msheireb's Doha Oasis, Mosavali Doha combines traditional Georgian design, culture, and modernity. High carved wooden ceilings, wooden floors, whitewashed stone walls, arched features, hanging iron candelabras, traditional kitchen equipment and ornaments adorning walls, shelves and tables all have the feel of a grand Georgia hall. However, the calm neutral hues, the contemporary Georgian artwork and architectural features, mirrored walls, and stylised patterned wallpaper and furnishings give the overall impression of luxury modern design. The mix is unique and inviting, as are the staff dressed in traditional garb and the menu's wide range of food choices.
Mosavali's menu includes well-known dishes and lesser-known plates from different regions across Georgia. The traditional cooking techniques and modern serving methods again marry Georgian culture, old and new. However, the food served all hinges on fresh, top-quality regional ingredients and traditional flavours, recipes and techniques to achieve the authentic plates the restaurant is known to serve.
If we had to pick just a few items from the menu to recommend, we would point you in the direction of the Shkmeruli – grilled chicken in a creamy, garlicky and moreish sauce, Lamb Shila – a slow-cooked rice dish seasoned with caraway seeds and black pepper and served with fragrant lamb chops, and the Khinkali Dessert – a sweet version of Khinkali stuffed with almond and Nadughi cheese in a mango puree. If you have room, we also suggest ordering savoury Khinkali – five broth-infused dumplings served inside a giant Khinkali (a very satisfying and Instagrammable dish to watch being opened!).
Food at Mosavali Doha is relatively costly, but the food is exquisite, the surroundings are luxurious, and the atmosphere and service are charming. If you want to treat yourself, Mosavali is definitely worth the price. Starters, salads and soups cost between QAR 50 – 80, Khachapuri and Khinkali from QAR 60 – 80, mains and gills between QAR 70 – 140 (although the 8-hour slow roasted beef is an eye-watering QAR 650), and desserts from QAR 65 – 75.
Location: Doha Oasis, Al Khaleej Street, Doha
(nearest Metro station, Msheireb on the Red, Green and Gold Lines)
Opening Hours: Sunday to Saturday, 5 pm – 12 am
Contact: +974 3032 7884
Main image: TripSavy
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