Top 4 Georgian desserts every tourist should try
The Sweetest trip through Georgian cuisine
When t comes to sweets and national trademarks of Georgia, it’s impossible not to talk about churchkhela, pelamushi, gozinaki and tklapi. Yes, they sound a little bit weird and are difficult to pronounce, but they are extremely delicious and tempting staples of the Georgian diet.
So let me guide you on the sweetest journey through Georgian cuisine:
Churchkhela/ Janjukha – irresistible organic gooey candy
Churchkhela is a delicious candy made from different kinds of nuts and grape juice. But don’t let the word candy frighten you, this sweet snack’s secret lies in its natural ingredients. Real churchkhela does not contain sugar, but only naturally condensed grape juice and local walnuts. Many foreigners refer to it as the ‘Georgian snickers’ but, in reality, there is nothing that tastes quite like churchkhela. It is the perfect substitution for energy bars. In fact, this sweet was traditionally eaten by Georgian warriors when they went to war since it’s bursting with energy and it stays fresh for a long time.
Georgia’s eastern region of Kakheti is considered to be the birthplace of churchkhela, yet one can find a similar sweet, called janjukha, in the western Guria region of Georgia. The candy has the same shape as churchkhela, yet instead of walnuts it contains hazelnuts. When travelling throughout Georgia you may come across this eye-catching, sausage-shaped hearty treat hanging in shops on almost every corner, especially in the tourist areas. However, keep in mind that home-made churchkhela is always better than the store bought ones. The price for one churchkhela is around 2-3 GEL (about 1.20 USD).
As a rule, churchkhela is usually made in the fall with the leftover grape juice from winemaking. The process of making this gooey staple is quite time consuming and difficult; first cleaned walnuts or hazelnuts are threaded and then dipped into a thick grape juice pudding prepared in advance. Before consuming, churchkhela needs to be dried in the sun for 2-3 days. The candy’s exterior hardens while it still remains soft and silky on the inside with crunchy walnuts.
Pelamushi/Tatara – Silky grape pudding
Pelamushi is yet another must try Georgian dessert. In fact it is made in a similar way to churchkhela, the main ingredient is condensed grape juice which is called badagi in Georgian. The fact that even desserts are made from grape juice in Georgia serves as yet more proof that the country is “The Cradle of Wine”. Pelamushi is consumed both warm and cold and in both cases it is simply delicious.
Pelamushi is usually prepared by local farmers during Rtveli (grape harvest festival) and Tbilisoba Festival (Tbilisi’s city-wide festival) that takes place in the autumn. When grapes are crushed for making wine the sweet leftover juice is condensed. When the amount of the juice reduces, 1/3 flour is added and then mixed well. This is how you get a natural pudding without adding any supplements like sugar.
Another type of pelamushi is Tatara, they taste slightly different and as a rule pelamushi is made with corn flour while tatara is made with plain wheat flour. Once the pelamushi or tatara is ready it is poured into a cup and topped with walnuts. One can sample these tasty treats in the homes of local people or by buying it in supermarkets, wine shops or one of the many stalls in the central parts of the city.
Tklapi – Natural fruit lollypop
Tklapi is a traditional Georgian roll-up candy made from fruit puree. It is still made in the traditional way and all of the ingredients are completely natural. The most widespread types of tklapi are made from plums, apples or figs.
The fruit puree is spread onto a sheet and dried in the sun for a few days. Some people prefer sweet tklapi, some people prefer sour, it all depends on your personal taste. Either way, as soon as you put tklapi in your mouth it immediately starts melting, giving you some incredible flavours.
Tklapi is like an organic lollipop full of vitamins and natural goodness. Apart from consuming it as an enjoyable snack, it is often used to help sooth a sore throat. The best thing about this unusual and extremely delicious sweet is that it can be kept for a long time so you can buy it as a gift for your loved ones at home.
Gozinaki– Crunchy nut & honey bar
Gozainaki is a very special sweet made with walnuts and honey. This is the most beloved sweet in Georgia and it’s made only once a year, on special occasions such as Christmas and New Year. It might remind you of a granola or energy bar by its texture and appearance, yet it is tastes completely different. Roasted walnuts are mixed with hot honey and then flattened to cool down. When the candy hardens it is cut into diamond shapes and served on plates. If you happen to celebrate New Year in Georgia then get ready to be offered various types of gozinaki at every household. Although the ingredients are the same, each household has their own special recipe and secret way of making this rich and hearty treat. But in case you missed the chance to sample real homemade gozinaki you can buy some at local supermarkets or souvenir shops. This crunchy from the outside and gooey from inside nut confection serves as a symbol of abundance that every family must have on the New Year’s supra (feast table) to wish oneself a successful and happy year.