If you’re looking for an authentic culinary experience while visiting Georgia, taking a cooking class in Tbilisi is a must-do. Not only do you get to learn how to make khinkali and other traditional Georgian dishes from scratch, but you also get to immerse yourself in the local culture and connect with the people who call this wonderful city home.
Nana’s Kitchen, a top-rated Tbilisi cooking class, offers this and then some.
In this blog post, we’ll share our experience taking a Tbilisi cooking class at Nana’s Kitchen, from the warm welcome we received to the delicious dishes we prepared. Get ready to discover the secrets of Georgian cooking, learn how to make Khinkali from scratch, and find out why Nana’s Kitchen is my pick as the best cooking class in Tbilisi.
What is Khinkali?
Before tucking into Nana’s Kitchen and learning how to make Khinkali, let’s look at what makes these dumplings so special. If you haven’t had Khinkali and wondering “What is Khinkali,” you are in for a treat.
Plainly put, Khinkali is a type of dumpling that is filled with a juicy mixture of minced meat (usually beef or pork), onions, and spices. It’s also a traditional Georgian dish that holds a special place in my heart.
I first discovered khinkali a few years back at a Georgian restaurant in Istanbul. The place was a former British jail turned into a piano bar run by an elderly Georgian couple. In between serving guests, the husband played while his wife sang.
It was such a memorable night and the food was so very good. They convinced me to visit Georgia, home of this magical dumpling, and I knew I wanted to learn how to make kinkali.
Since then, I have had my fair share of Khinkali and can confidently say that it is one of the most diverse dishes out there. It combines some of my favourite things – dumplings, soup, and the option to have a variety of fillings. It is handheld (with caution), pairs great with beer, and is known to help with a hangover.
To me, the coolest thing about khinkali in Georgia is that it’s everywhere. It’s not just something tourists take selfies with. It’s a staple in Georgian cuisine and locals can be seen enjoying it at every restaurant we went to. Compare that, if you will, to poutine.
Where was Khinkali Invented?
The origins of Khinkali date back to the 13th century when Mongol invaders introduced dumplings to the region. Over time, Georgians developed their own version of dumplings, which eventually became known as Khinkali.
Today, Khinkali is an important part of Georgian culture and is a must-try for anyone visiting the country. To take it up a notch, learning how to make Khinkali at a cooking class in Tbilisi is an amazing way to experience the country.
I was visiting Georgia with my brother and, while searching for places to teach me how to make khinkali, I came across Nana’s Kitchen. This Tbilisi cooking class operator is made up of passionate Georgians with a deep appreciation for the taste and culture of Georgian food and wine.
For years, they have been cooking for their own families and friends and have recently opened up their homes to share their knowledge and expertise with visitors.
What better way to learn how to make khinkali than from an actual Georgian grandmother?
WHERE TO BOOK: Nana’s Kitchen cooking class in Tbilisi
The Women Behind Nana’s Kitchen
The set-up at Nana’s Kitchen is quite impressive. Nana’s family was known to host large dinners and parties for family and friends and, after her husband passed, the garage he used was converted into a beautiful meeting space and kitchen.
Thanks to the help of Mariam, a family friend and co-operator, Nana’s Kitchen Tbilisi cooking class was born.
We were greeted by Nana’s granddaughter/translator, offered Georgian wine, and shown into the kitchen where we rolled up our sleeves to learn how to make Khinkali.
Nana’s Kitchen Tbilisi Cooking Classes
Of course, Nana’s Kitchen offers classes other than how to make Khinkali. As of writing this, this cooking class in Tbilisi offers a course on traditional Georgian cuisine where guests make four different dishes. There are also vegan and vegetarian courses and, since it is a family-run business, a course for kids.
For those celebrating something special, there is a romantic outing cooking class for two.
- READ MORE: Cooking Goulash in Budapest
How to Make Khinkali
Wine in hand, we took our spots around the large island in Nana’s Kitchen and listened as she and her granddaughter listed off the ingredients. Surprisingly, there is not much to it. The dough is just flour and water and the filling is a minced combo of beef and pork with onions.
The mixture is seasoned with salt, pepper, and coriander. To my surprise, there is no “soup” added to this soup dumpling. The juices inside of khinkali are from the meat mixture cooking inside the dumpling.
The real trick with making khinkali is, of course, putting it all together.
After the dough was mixed and rested for 30 minutes, Nana effortlessly rolled and dived it into small balls. She then flattened out the dough into thin circles about 4 inches in diameter and placed a small dollop of the meat and onion mixture in the middle. In a blur, she picked up the dough, folded, twisted and pinched the kinkali into shape.
When it came to my turn, I struggled. Pinching and twisting the khinkali into shape is a skill, to say the least. My attempts leaked, looked malformed, or fell apart. My brother, who has plenty of experience working with dough, was able to nail down the process after a couple of tries.
For the full list of ingredients and steps to make khinkali, see the khinkali recipe below.
How to Eat Khinkali
As we sat down to enjoy our meal, Mariam walked us through the very important process of how to eat Khinkali. As I found, it’s not just a delicious treat, but also a cultural experience. Here’s how to eat khinkali like a pro:
- Hold the khinkali by its topknot, making sure not to touch the filling.
- Take a small bite from the side of the dumpling, being careful not to let the juices escape.
- Suck out the flavorful broth from the khinkali. Slurping is more than OK.
- Once the broth is gone, enjoy the rest of the khinkali, but make sure to leave the topknot as it is considered impolite to eat it.
- The important last step of how to eat khinkali is to pair it with a glass of Georgian wine or beer!
A word or warning, eating khinkali, as I found out the hard way, can be a messy affair. Be sure to have a napkin handy as spills happen.
As an added treat, Mariam deep-fried a few khinkali for us to try as well. This is a hangover favourite in Georgia and is typically done with leftover khinkali the next day.
They were good but boiled ones are definitely much better in my non-Georgian opinion 🙂
Nana’s Kitchen – A Great Cooking Class Experience in Tbilisi
Learning how to make Khinkali at a cooking class in Tbilisi was an experience like no other. From the hands-on instruction to the rich cultural context, the class was the perfect introduction to Georgian cooking.
We discovered that making Khinkali is as much about the technique as it is about the ingredients, and we walked away with a newfound appreciation for the art of dumpling making.
Best of all, even if you are like me and struggle to fold and twist a khinkali, you still get to feast!
So, whether you’re a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, taking a cooking class at Nana’s Kitchen is a must-do when in Tbilisi. You’ll not only learn how to make delicious Georgian dishes but also gain a deeper understanding of the country’s rich culinary heritage. Book your class now.
Nana’s Kitchen Khinkali Recipe
250 ml water
500g ground meat (beef and pork 50/50 ratio)
1 large onion
Salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and water to form a dough. Knead for 10-15 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
- In another bowl, mix the minced meat, finely chopped onions, salt, black pepper, and coriander.
Take a small amount of dough and roll it out into a thin circle, about 10 cm in diameter. Place a spoonful of the meat mixture in the center of the dough.
- Take the edges of the dough and pinch them together at the top, creating a small “purse” or bundle around the filling. Twist the top of the dough to seal the khinkali.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently drop the khinkali into the water and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the dough is fully cooked and the meat is tender.
- Remove the khinkali from the water using a slotted spoon and serve hot. Traditionally, khinkali is served with black pepper and a sprinkle of vinegar or tkemali sauce on top.
Nana’s Kitchen Cooking Class Tbilisi Good to Know
Class Cost: Start at $110 USD per person.
Includes: Meals, wine, and great company!
Don’t Miss: Georgian wine!
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Thoughts Nana’s Kitchen or Taking a Cooking Class in Tbilisi?
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