What is Khachapuri?

Nick Doniger
Nick Doniger

Khachapuri is a type of flat bread, either filled with cheese or featuring a cheesy, buttery mixture surrounded by a browned crust. The dish originates from the Republic of Georgia, and may be thought of as similar to a pizza, calzone, quesadilla, or blintz. Khachapuri is incredibly popular in its home country. Often, those who attempt to make it at home outside of Georgia may have trouble finding the correct type of cheese to use, which is usually a Georgian cheese called sulguni. Variations on the dish, however, allow some room for unique culinary interpretations.

Typical khachapuri appears as a slightly puffed flat bread, with cheese either exposed in the center, similar to a pizza, or with cheese enclosed into the bread, similar to a calzone. The shape of the product may be either circular or oval shaped with knobs at the end, akin to a flat version of a Portuguese roll. Sometimes, the dough has a flaky, fillo-like or croissant-like texture. Most of the time, the dough has a fluffy, somewhat chewy consistency and a crisp, browned crust.

Khachapuri is found just about anywhere in Georgia, but it can also be made at home. After yeast, water, salt, and egg are mixed to form a dough, this mixture is allowed to set for a short period of time in order for the yeast to activate. The dough is then flattened and spread across a pan. Cheese, either by itself or mixed with egg and butter, is spread into the concave area of the dough or filled into a pocket in the dough. The product is baked in the oven until browned and bubbling.

Traditional cheeses for making khachapuri may be difficult to find in some countries. A pickled cheese called sulguni is considered the most traditional type. Sulguni offers a stringy consistency, similar to mozzarella, but with a sharp, salty, and somewhat sour flavor. Other Georgian cheeses such as imeruli are also often used. Other options include mixing mozzarella with other sharp and salty cheeses in order to achieve the correct flavor.

There are some different types of khachapuri among different households, cafes, restaurants, and regions of Georgia. One of the most common types is Imeritian khachapuri, which has a circular shape. The Ossetian version of the dish features diced or sliced potatoes mixed with the cheese. Adjarian khachapuri has raw eggs draped over the top prior to baking. In other instances, the cheese may be mixed with butter and eggs before being baked into the dough, creating a creamy consistency and rich flavor.

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