Georgia is a small country on the eastern edge of Europe, and its cuisine reflects its rich culture and history. When you talk about Georgian food, you probably think of khinkali, mtsvadi (Georgian barbecue), and khachapuri – every foodie’s favorite. But how much do you know about Georgian desserts?
As you tour this blissful land, you’ll taste abundant honey-baked goods, delicious pastries, and authentic wine snacks. Let us take you on a sweet culinary tour and introduce you to 15 of the most popular and amazing traditional Georgian desserts.
Georgia is known as the home of wine, so it’s no surprise that grapes and wine have been the main ingredients in most traditional Georgian desserts throughout history. The first and favorite snack of all the Georgians is Churchkhela, a candle-shaped candy.
Made from nuts and grape juice (madagi), churchkhela is a delicious, nutritious, and healthy dessert that was a popular snack among Georgian soldiers in past wars. The high-calorie churchkhela can be stored for long periods and is portable, making it the perfect energy booster for critical situations. Now you see why churchkhela is often referred to as the “Georgian Snickers.”
There are two basic types of churchkhela: kakhetian is made with walnuts strung on a thin thread and dipped in grape juice brewed with wheat flour; imeretian is made with hazelnuts made from clinkers dipped in cornmeal.
Churchkhela is a must-have for the New Year’s holiday table in Georgia.
2. Pelamushi (Tatara)
Pelamushi, also known as tatara, is the liquor used to prepare churchkhela.
Pelamushi is a bit like grape sweet pudding or porridge. Pelamushi comes in several gorgeous colors, ranging from dark purple to light peach, and is a mainstay in Georgia’s harvest season Rtveli.
Pelamushi’s delicious grape flavor is achieved by concentrating grape juice. To prepare it, you need to cook the grape juice with cornmeal and sugar until the mass thickens. The hot pelamushi is then poured into a bowl and kept in the refrigerator. When it has hardened, it’s time to put the delicious dessert on the plate, garnished with chopped nuts, seeds, or honey.
Traditionally, Georgians use red grape juice to prepare pelamushi. White grapes are only used for weddings, this symbolizing the bride’s purity.
If you’ve been to Georgia, you’ve probably noticed a strange leather candy popping up at every street market. Why do Georgians like to chew on leather? Well, that’s tklapi, another unique Georgian dessert you should try.
Tklapi is a traditional Georgian rolled leather made from fruit purée. It can be sour or sweet. The sour version is made from tkemali plums and is often used in soups and stews, usually with kharcho, while the sweet tklapi is made from apricots or peaches.
Tklapi is a great snack that you can take anywhere. It’s small, lightweight, and doesn’t require refrigeration, which is why it was another convenient, nutritious, and energizing dessert that Georgia warriors carried with them during the war.
You may have noticed that most Georgian sweets contain nuts and honey. Why? Historically, honey and walnuts were considered sacred foods in Georgia and were intended to be the main dessert for celebratory feasts. This explains why gozinaki – another honey-and-nut-based Georgian sweet treat – only appears on New Year’s tables.
Gozinaki is a luxury dessert with a crunchy texture from caramelized nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts, roasted in honey. This sweet treat is usually cut into diamonds and served on the New Year’s table.
Chiri is our next favorite Georgian sweet treat, and you can find it in street markets anywhere. Chiri is just a dried fruit that can be made from plums, persimmons, figs, apples, bananas, kiwi, pears, etc. It is widely regarded as one of the most nutritious and healthiest candies, as dried fruit contains most of the nutritional value of fresh fruit.
Sometimes these fruits can even be coated with extra flavorings such as jam, sugar, or honey. This is done to increase the overall palatability of the fruit. On your way to the Tbilisi City Tour, grab some chiris as a healthy snack to keep you energized for the rest of the day.
Nazuki is everyone’s favorite traditional Georgian sweet bread, most commonly found on the highway near Surami. Along the way, dozens of bakers make their version of nazuki. Surami ıs a city located near the center of Georgia, and the perfect spot for travelers to stop and grab some take-away nazukis. This explains why this bread is hard to find in other parts of the country.
Sweet nazuki bread includes cinnamon and cloves. It is baked in a Georgian cylindrical clay oven, but it can also be baked in a home oven.
Kada is a Georgian sweet cake usually prepared for religious holidays. Strong and flavorful, Kada comes in many shapes and sizes depending on the region, so Georgia’s cultural diversity adds layers to this cuisine.
You can find kada with different fillings, sweet or savory, plain or puff pastry. It is a popular breakfast choice for Georgians and tourists. Its thick texture and nutritious flavor will provide you with the calories you need to stay energized throughout the day!
8. Tsandili (Korkoti)
Another Georgian dessert, tsandili, is in some ways a ceremonial dish prepared in honor of the dead. In eastern Georgia, tsandili is commonly known as korkoti, and the recipe may also vary slightly.
Tsandili is made from grains, usually wheat, and flavored with walnuts, raisins, honey, apricots, pickled cherries, and sugar. Tsandili is a healthy and delicious dessert with long traditional roots in Georgian culture.
Another traditional Georgian delicacy is Paska. A special cake (sweet bread) baked especially for Easter. This bread is as meaningful as the raisins. Church officials say paska represents the sweet nature of Jesus Christ and his resurrection.
Not only Georgia but every Orthodox country prepares paska for the Easter holiday. However, since food reflects culture, and each culture is unique, Georgian Paskas are different and special. All permutations of Georgian Paska share the same basic idea: it’s a big, round, and fluffy cake.
The classic variation is sprinkled with powdered sugar. Fancy iterations are topped with icing or chocolate frosting and decorated with sprinkles. Some people like their paska light and fluffy brioche-style; Others prefer a buttery and crumbly variation with a texture more like carrot cake.
So, if you happen to visit Georgia on your Easter holidays, make sure you try out Georgian paska!
Georgia is a country with a rich history, where enemies and friends have left their mark on its culture and cuisine. Since Georgia was part of the Soviet Union for years, you’ll notice that much Russian-inspired food has been incorporated into Georgian culture.
So our next favorite Georgian dessert is korjiki. As you can see, this snack retains its Russian name and is Georgian children’s favorite snack.
Korjiki is a dark-textured milk biscuit with crunchy edges and a soft center, with a slight cinnamon flavor while being chewy. Honestly, it has nothing to do with the classic milk biscuits. Wander the street markets and try some Georgian korjiki for yourself.
Ponchiki is an easy and delicious Georgian dessert you can find in any restaurant. Ponchiki, like korjiki, originated in Russia and has become part of Georgian food culture.
Ponchiki means donut, but it is not actually related to the iconic glazed ring-shaped pastry donut that is world-famous.
Georgian ponchiki is slightly different from Russian ponchiki. The traditional Russian ponchiki is filled with cottage cheese and looks like a small cheese ball, while Georgian ponchiki is sweet, larger, filled with custard cream, and decorated with powdered sugar.
Simple as it sounds, baked ponchiki feels tender and soft and melts in your mouth.
12. Medok Cake
Medok is another delicious Georgian dessert inspired by the Russian cake culture, and its original name is medovik. However, in Georgia, cakes are usually made with cream rather than sour cream, unlike traditional recipes. Desserts made with Georgian organic honey are incredibly delicious.
Medok is usually prepared on special occasions, but it is so soft and delicious that it is irresistible even on an ordinary day.
Now you know that Georgians love walnuts. So it’s no surprise that Georgians’ favorite side dish for medok is chopped nuts, preferably hazelnuts or walnuts. It’s also common to use leftover cake crumbs, dried fruit, powdered sugar, or organic honey to coat.
13. Walnut Muraba
Muraba means jam in Georgian, and yes, Georgians love walnuts so much they even make jam with them. As crazy as it may sound, walnut muraba is characterized by its delicate texture and is an indispensable dessert on every traditional Georgian table.
To make a traditional Georgian walnut muraba, you need green walnuts, peeled and boiled. But as simple as it sounds, it takes a while to prepare. The peeled walnuts should be placed under running water for 3 days to remove the toxins, then dried for 24 hours.
The walnuts will turn dark black before they can be cooked. Georgian walnut muraba syrup is often compared to maple syrup because of its very similar taste.
14. Melon Muraba (Sweet Preserved Watermelon)
Another delicious jam in Georgian cuisine is melon muraba.
Melon muraba is a jam made from melon and sugar. It has a wonderful and subtle taste enhanced by spices and can be eaten as a dessert or candy or as a cake topping or jam. In Georgia, watermelons are usually produced in July and August when they are ripe.
Georgians use small and medium-sized watermelons with thick skins to prepare melon muraba. The white part under the skin is cut into various lovely shapes and cooked with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla powder. So now you know what to do with the leftover watermelon!
Last but not least, we have mamalo. Mamalo is a homemade caramel lollipop snack shaped like a rooster that also originated in Russia.
This candy was introduced to Georgia from Russia during the Soviet era and is often prepared in homes, especially around Christmas and New Year. Years later, mamalo lost popularity, but if you ask a generation of Soviet-era Georgians, they’ll remember mamalo as the perfect childhood memory.
While caramel treats exist in most parts of the world, Georgians chose to shape their mamalos in the shape of a rooster. Interestingly, this reflects a mix of rural and urban life.
Georgian dessert cuisine is rich in traditional dishes, but the ones discussed above are the most popular. While some Western desserts also blended with Georgian food culture, they also stick to the well-preserved traditional desserts that continue to wow visitors.
Georgian sweets stand out with nutritious and rich taste, sweetness, and calorie-richness. Try them out yourself and enjoy some crazy flavors.
Related: Most Popular Georgian Foods