National dishes of Abkhazia are authentic family recipes, in which the centuries-old traditions of the southern people are preserved. Hospitable feast and food saturated with aromatic seasonings have become a symbol of this Caucasian region.
The dishes of Abkhazia are family recipes of the southern people.
History of the cuisine of Abkhazia
The history of the formation of Abkhaz cuisine was influenced by the ancient culture of the peoples of Transcaucasia, whose customs are closely related. For many centuries, Abkhazia had a special relationship with Georgia, which strengthened the similarity not only of the gastronomic foundations, but also of the life of neighbors who settled on different sides of the Colchis lowland.
The food of the Abkhaz is an agricultural product, the cultivation of which is facilitated by a humid subtropical climate, hot summers and an abundance of precipitation.
In the coastal strip of the Black Sea, the cultivation of subtropical crops, fruit trees and shrubs, grapes, vegetables, cereals and legumes has been mastered. The spurs of the Greater Caucasus protect the crop from the wind, and mountain pastures provide conditions for grazing large and small cattle.
Agriculture, cattle breeding and production of dairy products are traditional areas of households in Abkhazia. Local residents also have established winemaking, beekeeping, collection of gifts of nature – nuts, wild herbs.
What is remarkable about the Abkhaz cuisine
The gastronomic traditions of the Abkhaz include increased consumption of plant products with a high protein and vitamin content: legumes, corn, vegetables, fruits, nuts.
Many Abkhaz dishes contain legumes.
In the national cuisine, wild herbs and plants are used in large quantities, which are collected in the forest and on the mountain slopes. These are wild garlic, wild parsley, nettle, purslane, fenugreek, etc.
The culinary traditions of Abkhazia are distinguished by the sharpness of the taste of aromatic adjika, the secret of cooking which every housewife has. This seasoning during meals is always served to the table along with bread, added when stewing to meat, used as a marinade for barbecue.
All dishes prepared by local housewives, who spend most of their time in the kitchen, are designed for one-time use.
Basic products for cooking Abkhaz dishes
The daily diet of the Abkhaz is characterized by an abundance of natural products characteristic of the region, which include:
- unleavened bread baked in a tandoor;
- seasonal fruits and vegetables;
- greens – parsley, cilantro, savory, basil, wild garlic, tarragon, celery, green onions, mint, etc .;
- sour-milk drinks;
- brine and boiled cheeses;
- lamb, goat, beef, poultry.
Hominy is made from natural products.
A lamb or chicken baked on a spit is more often prepared on a holiday or for a large feast.
In the daily menu, abkhazians include mamaliga, bread, cheese, vegetables and adjika, which emphasizes the moderation of the people in food.
Basic cooking methods
According to ancient tradition, Abkhazians prefer to fry meat whole on a spit. This type of cooking is characterized by prolonged languor at high temperature, which gives the dish tenderness and fills with smoke from the fire.
Another popular tool for cooking meat is the grill. An abundance of marinades is attached to the future kebab. Preliminary aging in aromatic seasonings with fruit and berry additives gives lamb, veal, goat, chickens a ruddy crust, juiciness and delicate taste, facilitates digestibility.
Sometimes boiled chicken meat or beef, cooked with the addition of Caucasian herbs and roots, are served to the table. A delicacy is a lamb carcass boiled in milk.
Fish is rarely included in the menu, mainly river trout roasted on a fire. Fresh vegetables and herbs are eaten in slices or make a salad, which is seasoned with vegetable oil. There are no recipes for the first courses in Abkhaz cuisine, with the exception of a thick and rich soup of beans.
Popular national dishes
The national menu has no more than 40 items. In each of these dishes are gifts of southern nature, rich in vitamins and trace elements. Culinary traditions are mixed with Abkhaz hospitality and the sharp and spicy aroma of adjiki.
The most popular dish in Abkhazia is carcasses fried on a spit.
In the gastronomic map of Abkhazia you can include the following popular dishes:
- lamb or goat carcasses fried on a spit, stuffed with fermented milk cheese and herbs collected in the foothills of the Caucasus, in forests and alpine meadows;
- meat smoked on the fire;
- chicken and kebab of lamb and veal cooked on coals;
- abkhaz adjika;
- stewed beef – solyanka in abkhaz;
- chicken in nut sauce;
- bean soup;
- suluguni with greens and nuts;
- a plate of homemade cheeses;
- tarragon drink;
- red and white homemade wines, chacha;
- honey confectionery;
- grape must jelly with hazelnut and fig additive.
Their dough, mixed with wheat or corn flour, is prepared by khachapuri, achma, churek with a filling of cheese. Pies and tortillas take pride of place at the dinner table every day.
The daily diet of the Abkhaz is not complete without dairy products obtained from cow’s, goat’s, sheep’s milk.
The diet of the Abkhaz is not complete without cheese.
Households prepare cheese, sheep and goat cheeses, suluguni, chechil, which are usually served with each meal.
Brined cheeses go well with Abkhaz wines. Suluguni and brynza are included in salads, fried on the grill and used as a filling for national pastries.
Matzoni is made from cow’s milk, adding sourdough. This fermented milk drink is consumed during the day and is included in the basis of sauces with fresh herbs, dried Caucasian herbs, garlic. In addition, matsoni is included in the recipe of dough for khachapuri and other national pastries.
From lamb, beef, chicken, stew is prepared, which is stewed for a long time in a sauce of ripe tomatoes, adjika, pepper, garlic and fragrant seasonings.
Traditional dishes include dolma, which is present in the menu of many peoples of Transcaucasia. Ground beef is mixed with rice and spices, wrapped in pickled or fresh grape leaves and simmered for a long time.
Restaurants cook beef or chicken in tsahton. The meat is boiled, after cooling, poured with a sauce made from matzoni with the addition of seasonings, garlic, bitter pepper, and allowed to soak. When serving, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Abkhaz men prefer meat fried on the grill to all other methods of cooking. They are fully involved in the process – from lighting a fire to a spectacular filling of plates with an appetizing kebab with the aroma of a fire and local spices. Each Abkhaz has his own recipe for marinade for different types of meat.
Meat dishes are cooked over an open fire.
To appreciate the Abkhaz cuisine, it is worth trying the following popular dishes:
- lambs cooked on an open fire, stuffed with liver, suluguni and cheese with the addition of caucasian herbs;
- chickens fried on a spit;
- boiled chicken with adjika;
- chicken with a sauce of fresh tomatoes;
- poultry meat with walnut sauce;
- cold cuts kebab;
- lamb stewed in garlic sauce;
- liver and trebucha, which are boiled and seasoned with onions and cilantro greens;
- meat smoked on a spit;
- goat meat, fried with cheese, which is served with fermented milk sauce with mint, etc.
Locals are considered masters in cooking dishes fried on the fire.
For the preparation of confectionery, the Abkhaz use honey, nuts, grape juice. Multi-layered pastries with honey impregnation are decorated with cream, nuts, jam, so sweet tooths always have something to try after spicy meat dishes.
The following sweets are served at the table:
- honey cookies;
- grape must jelly with nuts, southern fruits and honey, etc.
Along with adjika, the main component of the Abkhaz menu is hot sauces, including capsicum bitter pepper, spicy herbs.
Tkemali is a famous Georgian sauce, which is made from cherry plum.
For the base, choose one of the following ingredients:
- tkemali (cherry plum of varying degrees of maturity – from green to overripe);
- green grapes;
- ripe tomatoes;
- matsoni et al.
Popular refreshing compotes from dried fruits, grape, pomegranate, cherry juices. Quenches thirst and tones the drink, infused with the stems and leaves of tarragon, with the same name.
The Abkhaz feast is vegetables with a bouquet of fragrant greens and garlic, homemade cheeses, lobio, eggplant with nuts, pickles, pate from offal, khachapuri.
After the guests and hosts have started the meal, the table is gradually filled first with hot snacks, then several types of meat dishes, and the crown of the feast will necessarily be a goat or a young lamb fried on a spit with fragrant herbs.
The frequency with which the change of dishes occurs resembles a kaleidoscope.
The hosts demonstrate to their guests culinary skills honed by generations and inherited.
The wine list of Abkhazia due to the subtropical climate, characterized by summer heat and high rainfall, allows winemakers to grow Georgian white grape varieties – Rkatsiteli and Tsolikouri, which blend with Riesling, Aligote.
Abkhazian wine is easy to drink, fresh and always has a deep aroma.
For red wines, Isabella imported from America is grown, adding Sauvignon, Saperavi, Merlot to the blend to Cabernet.
From fermented pulp by distillation, chacha is obtained – a strong drink common in Georgia and Abkhazia.
In addition to factory production, many Abkhaz households make homemade wine and chacha, which are popular among vacationers. Alcoholic beverages are usually consumed in small quantities, but on holidays the locals allow themselves to relax, so the products of winemakers flow like a river.
Culinary traditions of Abkhazia
The traditions of Abkhaz hospitality are a feast with an abundance of wine, bread, khachapuri, greens and vegetables, hot sauces, cold and hot appetizers, meat dishes cooked on coals and open fire. A balanced menu and cooking methods allow guests to taste all the dishes served.
Abkhazians love to treat and boast about their culinary skills, for which they are rewarded with a large number of fans of local cuisine.
What to try while in Abkhazia
A trip to Abkhazia is breathtaking mountains, lush vegetation, warm sea with small pebbles and the aroma of national dishes, which is in the air, exciting the appetite.
Suluguni is smoked on juniper, walnut, oak chips. Serve smoked cheese with hominy, wine or eaten with unleavened bread and tkemali.
Smoked suluguni is a variation of the classic Georgian cheese.
It is a tender and nutritious pie with a golden crust and a viscous one melted during baking in a Suluguni oven. Khachapuri can be eaten as an independent dish or instead of bread. The pie goes well with pickles, fresh vegetables, stew with a thick sauce of adjiki and ripe tomatoes.
To prepare this snack, eggplants, tomatoes, sweet and bitter peppers are baked on the grill, then peeled and, slightly crushed, mixed with seasonings, herbs and garlic.
Ajapsandal is a vegetable sauté on Georgian, stew, stewed vegetables.
A hearty spicy dish of stewed beans, flavored with cilantro, mint, adjika, garlic and walnuts, is served cold or hot with bread baked in a tandoor. Lobio is constantly present on the table, whether it is a festive feast or a daily meal.
The main daily dish that is eaten in every Abkhaz family is abysta, or mamaliga, – unleavened porridge of dense consistency based on corn flour. It is served with smoked suluguni, pickles and matzoni sauce. They eat hominy with their hands, breaking off a piece and snacking on hot pickled peppers, cucumbers and cheese. For the locals, abysta replaces bread.
Abysta is a thick corn porridge.
Abkhaz kharcho is a thick spicy dish of boiled chicken meat in a nut sauce, saturated with seasonings, including a generous portion of red and black pepper, utskho-suneli, hops-suneli, coriander, kondari, garlic. A unique taste is given by hand-grated walnuts. Kharcho is served moderately warm.
Pickled pieces of veal, goat or chicken, fried on the grill, are considered one of the symbols of the Abkhaz feast. Lamb meat is fried mixed with chicken lard, periodically poured with wine mixed with adjika or pomegranate juice. The ingredients included in the marinade make the meat tender and juicy.
The kebab is served with adjika, tkemali, narsharab, barberry, blackberry or spicy and spicy tomato sauce.
Abkhaz solyanka is beef stewed with ripe pureed tomatoes, which melts in the mouth. Fresh cilantro greens, utsho-suneli, crushed coriander, hot pepper, garlic and adjika are used for flavor.
Flatbreads are prepared from a mixture of wheat and corn flour, which is kneaded in sour milk – whey or matzoni, then baked in the oven. The secret of cooking churek is a large amount of grated brine cheese, which is added to the dough in equal volume.
The persimmon harvest collected in the autumn in fresh form cannot be stored for a long time. Abkhazians dry bright orange fruits, which allows you to preserve the beneficial properties and enjoy the elegant aroma of exotic berries in the winter and spring months. Dried persimmon is an exquisite natural dessert that replaces sweets.