Georgian Food: Eggplant With Walnuts

Georgian Food: Eggplant With Walnuts

Fabulous flavors come together with fenugreek, garlic, and walnuts in this naturally low carb, gluten-free traditional Georgian dish. Out of all Georgian food, Georgian eggplant with walnuts, or badrijani nigvzit, is a definitely a staple at any Georgian dinner party!

My husband just got back from visiting family for Orthodox Easter in Georgia (the country not the state). Georgians take great pride in hospitality and welcoming guests into their homes and do a fabulous job of it. Much emphasis is placed on the Georgian supra, or dinner party, where plates of traditional foods are stacked one on top of the other.

Georgians give toasts to God, peace, the guests, the children, Georgia, your country, and many others. While I love the Georgian cheese bread (khachapuri), desserts, and meats, one of my favorite keto-friendly side dishes is badrijani nigvzit.

Georgian eggplant with walnuts. I love Georgian food!

Okay, I admit when I first tried it, I was not used to eggplant. Actually, I had to work up my courage to taste and then enjoy it. To an American palate, it’s not a regular dish but once you do the flavors are oh so good! There’s a reason it’s on a plate at nearly every Georgian table on special occasions.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Georgian eggplant with walnuts is a fabulous keto side dish that's a staple for any Georgian dinner. Low carb and gluten-free, full of flavor! #ketosides #georgianrecipes

In a hurry?

While I think you’ll love my super helpful tips and fun stories, I also realize we are sometimes pressed for time and just need a good recipe! Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the printable recipe or PIN it here for later!

When I was alone, I lived on eggplant, the stove top cook’s strongest ally…. 

Laurie Colwin

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

What Georgian food will you find at a traditional dinner supra?

Like I said, my husband just returned from Georgia, and after Easter Georgian households celebrate and tend to eat a lot! They take great joy when friends, neighbors, and family come over to share a meal. The food and wine are traditional, abundant, and accompanied by music and laughter!

Georgian supra table with low carb Georgian eggplant with walnuts #georgiansupra

Before Orthodox Easter, or აღდგომა aghdgoma, religious Georgians fast from animal products, eat little, and are almost vegan for a time. Therefore, when it’s time to say, “Christ is risen!” a celebration and feast for days begin. 

Plate upon plates are stacked on top of each other, filled with amazing dishes. Guests are encouraged to eat and drink as much as possible and have a good time. Guitars are brought out for singing and dance.

It’s also a fun time to prepare food with the family! Generally, the women bake sweet and savory breads, prepare salads, and make sure there are enough different kinds of meat and side dishes. There’s wine, coffee, and dessert, and people can sit at the table all day.

What about it? Shall we make one of those side dishes?

To make Georgian food: eggplant with walnuts you’ll need : 

Georgian foods: eggplant with walnuts is a staple for any Georgian dinner. Fenugreek, garlic, and walnuts make this a delicious low carb side dish. #lowcarbrecipes #georgianrecipes

How to select an eggplant

When I first started to make this dish when I returned to the United States, I bought normal bulb eggplant. Unfortunately, the finished recipe did not taste or look like I remembered. The problem with the big eggplant is that it is slightly more bitter and eggplanty, and not the right size for folding like the eggplant used in Georgia.

I looked around at local grocery stores and finally found what I was looking for. In Georgia, they use a long thin eggplant. Therefore, the closest I have found to the same variety is called a Chinese eggplant in most stores.

Two Chinese eggplants on a pan

I’ve found it most often at my local Sprout’s farmer’s market, and you may also have more luck at smaller natural produce or farmer’s market-type locations.

I’m even planning to grow it this year in my garden!

How to make fried Georgian eggplant with walnuts

To begin, gather all the ingredients and supplies together. Second, slice the Chinese eggplants lengthwise to about 1/3 of an inch thick. I like to use a mandolin slicer for this process but a regular knife works if you prefer.

Slicing the Chinese eggplant

Now we’re going to let the eggplant “weep” and get as much of the bitter flavor out as we can. Lay the eggplant out on towels and salt it liberally. Next, leave it there untouched for about half an hour and turn it over and salt the other side. Then let it sit another half hour or so.

The eggplant should “weep”, and the bitter liquid seeps out. Now rinse off the liquid and salt and pat them dry.

Next, get out a skillet or frying pan, and heat the oil over medium heat. Now fry the eggplant slices in batches for about 2 minutes on each side. When they’ve slightly browned, remove them to a dish and cover.

How to make the filling

Next, for the filling, take out a food processor (or pestle and mortar) and place in it all the rest of the ingredients: the walnuts, water, garlic, coriander, vinegar, salt, pepper, and fenugreek (or Georgian utskho suneli and kviteli qvaveli if you have it).

Process it all on high for forty seconds or so then unplug and spoon down the sides with a spatula. Continue to process it on high until everything’s thoroughly combined in a rough paste.

Tip: Refrigerate the filling for 2 hours or overnight, as the flavors need time to set and blend together. If the garlic tastes a little strong, the next day it shouldn’t (so says the garlic-lover).

Georgian foods: eggplant with walnuts, garlic, and fenugreek. A fabulous low carb traditional side dish. #ketosides #georgianfoods

Allergy tip: Can I tell you a little secret? Most of the time I actually substitute blanched almonds in this dish instead of walnuts. Why? Well, I love walnuts, but another in the household has a severe allergy to walnuts but not almonds. If you need to work with an allergy, try other nuts or even seeds that aren’t a problem.

How to fill the eggplant

First, take one strip of the eggplant and spread about a tablespoon of filling on half of it. Second, fold the strip in half evenly like a book with the filling in the middle.

Georgian eggplant with walnuts on a plate, badrijani nigvzit #georgianfoods #lowcarbsides

Lastly, arrange them on a plate or serving platter and garnish with some chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds if they’re in season! The Georgian foods look an array of colors during the summer.

Lately, I’ve not been able to get pomegranates but love that little tang the seeds bring and aesthetically for the beautiful color! Soon, soon my pretties!

Bite of Georgian foods: eggplant with walnuts #georgianfood

Georgian food and traditional recipes

Over the next few months, I’ll be featuring different traditional Georgian recipes. Some are already gluten-free and low carb like this staple side dish, Georgian eggplant with walnuts. Others, like khinkali, or meat dumplings are not, but I’ll share recipes for the traditional way to make them and a gluten-free option!

So if you’ve been to Georgia or just like to try another culture’s classic dishes, I hope you follow along on my Georgian food journey. Until next time! Nakh vam dis!

Pin the recipe here!

Georgian eggplant with walnuts, badrijani nigvzit. A fabulous low carb, gluten-free Georgian food. A keto side dish with garlic, walnuts, and spices. #georgianfood #lowcarbsides

Tag me in your recipe pics on Instagram @explorermomma.

If you LOVE this recipe please consider giving it a five-star rating in the review area below!

Searching for more low carb sides?

Easy low carb grilled garlic parmesan zucchini, circle pin

Want to learn more about the country of Georgia?

Check out these other articles on Georgia:

  1. Georgian Language Phrases for Travelers
  2. Unforgettable Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia
  3. How to Make Traditional Georgian Bread
  4. Top 10 Things to do in Batumi, Georgia with kids!
  5. Tbilisi, Georgia: Doors and Windows


Printable Recipe

Georgian Eggplant with Walnuts

Fabulous flavors come together with fenugreek, garlic, and walnuts in this naturally low carb traditional Georgian dish. One of my favorite Georgian foods, Georgian eggplant with walnuts, or badrijani nigvzit, is a staple at any Georgian dinner party.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Georgian, Gluten-Free, Keto, Low Carb
Keyword: Badrijani, Georgian, Georgian Eggplant with Walnuts
Servings: 18
Calories: 78kcal
Author: Explorer Momma

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized Chinese eggplant
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek (Georgian utskhro suneli)
  • 1 tsp ground corriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • cilantro to garnish
  • pomegranate seeds to garnish

Instructions

  • Slice the Chinese eggplant lengthwise to about 1/3 of an inch thick. Use a mandolin slicer or regular knife.
  • Lay the eggplant out on towels and salt it liberally. Leave it for half an hour and turn it over and salt the other side. It should "weep" and the bitter liquid seeps out. Rinse and pat dry.
  • Heat the oil over medium heat and fry the eggplant slices in batches about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a dish and cover.
  • For the filling, take out a food processor (or pestle and mortar) and place in it all the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro and pomegranate seeds for garnish. Process on high for forty seconds or so then unplug and push down the sides with a spatula. Continue to process on high until thoroughly combined in a rough paste.
  • Refrigerate the filling for 2 hours or overnight, as the flavors need time to set and blend together. 
  • Take one strip of the eggplant at a time and fill each with about a tablespoon of filling, folding the strip evenly like a book with the filling in the middle.
  • Garnish with roughly chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

Nutrition Facts

Servings 18.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 78
 
Total Fat 7 g  
Saturated Fat 1 g  
Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 33 mg  
Potassium 158 mg  
Total Carbohydrate 4 g  
Dietary Fiber 2 g  
Sugars 2 g  
Protein 1 g
*Nutrition Facts per MyFitnessPal.com. For most accurate facts, calculate your own with the exact ingredients you use in the recipe.

Nutrition Disclaimer

Please be aware I am not a medical specialist or nutritional professional. On this blog, I share recipes and what works for me. Please do not take anything on this blog as medical advice and always consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. I use MyFitnessPal.com to calculate nutrition facts as a courtesy to my readers, and I remove erythritol from the final carb count and net carb count because does not affect my own blood glucose levels.
 
 
This is as accurate as possible, but it’s best to independently calculate nutritional information on your own with the specific ingredients you use. I expressly disclaim any and all liability of any kind with respect to any act or omission wholly or in part in reliance on anything contained in this website.

Kids Travel Journal

Kids Travel Journal

A kids travel journal is the ultimate fun and memorable activity on a family vacation! You know all that time in the car or on the airplane? Use it wisely and have your kids reflect on what they’ve seen, eaten, and experienced!

Do your kids love to look back at old photos? What about old school papers and accomplishments?

Both of my kids do, especially my daughter. She is my child who likes to write stories, make lists, and have written and physical souvenirs of past adventures. If you’ve followed this blog at all you may have seen or downloaded the original kids travel journal I created for her.

While we still LOVE it, and it’s been great for past travels and adventures, the child is ready for something new.

That’s why I put together this new journal. Next week we’re heading off on a Spring Break road trip, and it requires something new and fresh for her to put her mind to!

In a hurry?

Scroll to get the travel journal bonus! Or PIN it for later here!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

A kids travel journal is the perfect road trip or air travel activity! Give the kids something to do as they travel, make memories, and reflect on new experiences. #kidstravel #traveljournal

 

The journey, not the arrival matters.

T.S. Eliot

Poet

What’s new in this kids travel journal?

First of all, I looked at quite a few ideas from my kids and others who’d used our original journal before. How could we make it better, more user-friendly, and still super-fun and engaging for kids?

One of the first things I did was change the size of the journal. Instead of a full page, I changed it to a half-sheet printout.

Why do you ask? Well, the half-sheet size is easier to travel with. It will fit in all sizes of bags, purses, backpacks, as a bookmark in a book, you name it.

It makes it easier to pull out and write/draw on any place you go whether it be in a car, a museum, or when you sit down to rest during a hike.

Record and reflect on family vacations with this printable kids travel journal. Fun and easy to take on the go, it's perfect for road trips, air travel, or any kids' outing! #kidstraveljournal #travelprintable

Another thing that’s changed is the amount of color vs. white space.

This journal has some pictures and color, but not as much as the last one. It was done on purpose so it’s easier to print out either in black and white, full color, or grayscale, depending on your preference. This also lets the child doodle in the edges and put in their own colors.

In addition, I’ve added some more prompts to spark kids imaginations.

For example, there’s a page for the day with the weather, how I feel, and other things listed. But then there are also pages on what I ate today, where I’m sleeping, who I saw, etc.

Depending on the kid, you may want to use all the pages or just a few and make more copies based on the length of the trip.

Filling out the kids travel journal. #kidstravel #printables

List of travel journal activity pages

  • Cover Page: My Travel Journal
  • Name and contact page with space to draw a self-portrait
  • Where in the world are you going? A world map to record where you travel.
  • Where in the USA are you going? A map of the USA to record where you travel.
  • The daily page includes:
    • Today’s Date:
    • I felt
    • The weather was:
    • I learned:
    • I met:
    • Three things I did today:
    • Today I traveled by:
  • What I ate
  • Written prompts: Three words to describe today, I miss…, I tried something new today!, I felt…
  • Out my window is a place to draw what they’ve seen out their window today!
  • Tonight we are staying… (where, and place to draw it)
  • Written prompts 2: The best thing about today was…, my least favorite thing was…, three words to describe this city/town are…, three questions I have are…
  • Today I learned a new word! This page includes a word bubble with an area to draw and a field to describe what it means.
  • Today I saw this! Includes a space to draw/color and descriptive words.
  • Here is a portrait of a person I saw today.
  • Today I saw this animal.
  • Trip Reflection page

Pages of the kids travel journal with a pen. #kidstraveljournal #kidsactivities

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Author, The Lord of the Rings


New Kids Travel Journal Bonus

Sign up for Explorer Momma’s newsletter and get the NEW Kids Travel Journal as a bonus! If you’re already on our list, awesome! You can still download the journal!

Preview of the new kids travel journal #kidstravel #kidstraveljournal

How to download the kids travel journal

First, enter your first name and email in the field below. Second, open up your email, and in a few minutes or less you should receive an email. Click on the button in the email to confirm your subscription to the Explorer Momma newsletter and your bonus kids travel journal should then download to your computer.

It’s that simple! Print out the entire thing or pick and choose the pages your child would most enjoy!

What do you think of the journal?

So far the journal has met approval with my own kids. We’ll be giving it the full road trip test next week, and I can’t wait to see how it goes!

After this one, as my daughter gets older we may turn to a basic blank journal with a few travel quotes here and there.

However, for now, when they’re in elementary school, this style of a journal is still appealing. It also makes kids think a bit about their travels. Who they’ve seen, what they’ve done, cultural differences, etc.

Do please let me know if you use it with the kids in your life! I hope it’s useful, and let me know if you have any suggestions to make it even better!

PIN it here for later:

An easy to use kids travel journal is perfect for any family vacation! Whether the kids are on a road trip, airplane, or train it makes a memorable travel diary. #traveljournal #kidstraveljournal

 

More kids travel activities:

  1. The Ultimate Road Trip Activities for Kids
  2. Kids Airplane Activities: Airplane BINGO
  3. 8 Ways to Survive a Long Layover with Kids
  4. The Complete Kids Carry-On Packing List

Kids Travel Journal

The Perfect Road Trip or Air Travel Activity! Click here to check our the Original Travel Journal Printable

Georgian Language Phrases For Travelers

Georgian Language Phrases For Travelers

This post will give you useful Georgian language phrases for travelers. Download the Georgian phrases PDF, your own Georgian travel dictionary! In one place find basic Georgian phrases and useful Georgian phrases to get a richer picture of the people as you travel.

When you travel to other countries do you try to learn the basics in the native language? Even if it’s just a few words as an introduction, I’ve found it paves the way for a richer, fuller visit. In addition, it helps to ingratiate you with the local people and gives you a whole other view of the place and culture.

I’ve had many people ask me how in the world I learned Georgian, even after living there for several years. How? I studied. I interacted with people all over the country (and that done with me being an introvert). Was it always comfortable? No, of course not, and language learning is never perfect, but little by little you begin to understand and feel a part. Georgian language phrases

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Useful Georgian language phrases for travelers, free printable, Trinity Cathedral Tbilisi. Travel with confidence and learn some culture! If Tbilisi, Georgia is your destination, you need these basic language phrases. #georgianlanguage #georgiantravelphrases

Luckily for you, if you’re traveling to Tbilisi or any other part of Georgia soon, I’ve put together a handy printable list of useful Georgian language phrases for travelers.

Speaking foreign languages while traveling

I vividly remember the reaction of a woman I met in Baku, Azerbaijan when I attempted to speak to her in Azeri. This was a while ago now, but she was taking money for tickets or a tour at the Maiden Tower, an old Zoroastrian tower in Baku that’s now a local history museum. At first glance, she bore the no-nonsense, expressionless face I associate with former Soviet countries. They all feel Americans smile too much at strangers, as do many other countries. To me, she looked put out at having to be bothered with doing her job and giving out tickets.

Slowly, I stepped up and asked for the tickets in what I thought was correct Azeri. She did a little double-take and really looked at my face, and I was able to respond to whatever she asked me in return. Her face lit up, smiled, and she yelled over to her friend that these girls were actually trying to speak Azeri and NOT Russian. At least I think she said something to that effect. We ended up getting more attention, and a bit of a special tour.

Metekhi Church entrance

Why learn basic Georgian phrases?

Indeed, it’s all about being polite and respectful when you go to someone else’s country, to speak their language. Even if you don’t get very far, or they speak English and cater to tourists, they will generally appreciate your attempt. Don’t be afraid of not getting everything perfect either! I do pretty well in Latin languages and Georgian; however, my German, Russian, Azeri, etc. are pretty horrendous. But don’t fear! Most of the time they don’t expect you to have perfect grammar and pronunciation. The point is to communicate and learn from your hosts.

Georgians are some of the most hospitable and welcoming people I’ve ever met. They take great pride in their hospitality and love to have guests. They, like the Azeri woman I mentioned, are super-excited when foreigners speak Georgian to them and not Russian or another language.

     

I first fell in love with the Georgian language through traditional Georgian music before I could speak a single word. Music so often communicates the history and passions of a place so I like to listen to what I can before and during my visit. Also, I encourage my kids to do the same thing and so makes travel a huge living lesson for us.

You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.

Geoffrey Willans

English Author and Journalist

Need some ideas about things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia?

Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi

In my recent blog post, you can read all about awesome activities to do with kids in Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s an amazing city and so much fun to explore!

Georgian language phrases

The Georgian language is a beautiful language rich in history. What’s it related to? This is generally one of the first questions I get asked when speaking to someone about how I know it. Georgian is in its own family and branch, and therefore it’s not Slavic, Latin, Germanic or others. In addition, it has its own alphabet with 33 letters always pronounced the same way when read, similar to Spanish. Right now I’m not going to go into the alphabet but for our purposes use Latin letters to make it easier for travelers to get some words out!

When you speak in Georgian, do not stress syllables as in English, but read through them with the same level of stress throughout, if that makes sense.

A few phrases in Georgian:

gamarjoba (gah-mar-joh-bah) This means hello!

me lareni var (may lahren-ee var) My name is Lauren.

Tip here: You’ll want to insert your name instead of mine. In Georgian, you add an ee (long e) sound to the end of your name if it ends in a consonant sound, in this case. I’ll not trouble you with a bunch of grammar right now.

sasiamovnoa (sah-see-ah-mohv-noh-ah) It’s nice to meet you. (I love saying this word so had to add it in.)

didi madloba (dee-dee mahd-loh-bah) Thank you very much.

kargat (kar-gaht) Good-bye! (informal)

nakhvamdis (nahkh-vahm-dees) Good-bye!

Do you want some more? Get the free Georgian language PDF printable, and practice to your heart’s content. Most Georgians are thrilled to help you with pronunciation and language so if you know someone who’s Georgian enlist their help.

 

Sign up for Explorer Momma’s newsletter and download your free Georgian language phrases for travelers printable below!

Georgian language phrases PDF

Georgian language phrases preview

Free Printable

A different language is a different vision of life.

Federico Fellini

Italian Film Director and Screenwriter

Travel and Georgian basic phrases

Do you tremble with excitement when you learn a new word or piece of language? Well, maybe we won’t go that far, but it’s exciting! Just imagine how much you can learn about a culture with a few simple words, some good food and company, and a lot of observation.

I said it before, but let me stress again, don’t worry about getting it perfect! We are communicating, and a couple of words are better than none to get a point across. Language is such an amazing part of a culture and helps form the identity of the people.

Good luck on your travels. I hope you enjoy learning a bit of Georgian today and have the opportunity to travel there someday!

Narikala Fortress and the Mother of Georgia overlooking Tbilisi

How do you say good-bye in Georgian?

nakh-vahm-dees!

Unforgettable Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia With Kids

Unforgettable Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia With Kids

First, let me tell you, Tbilisi is one of my favorite cities in the world. There are so many things to do in Tbilisi, so much culture at the Silk Road crossroads, it’s hard to narrow it down. I have many memories as a Peace Corps volunteer coming into the capital from my home site. Now, this was over 10 years ago I can barely believe, but around every corner, there are memories and smiles, and ahas!

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Narikala Fortress view of Tbilisi, Georgia. Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia with kids. Family adventure, history, and culture in this impressive destination. #tbilisi #georgiatravel

What to do in Tbilisi

Are you the type of traveler who searches out the familiar or the new and different? I admit I like a little of both. Therefore, if I see an English bookstore in Tbilisi, I say! Let’s go! It’s so much fun to see the culture differences and how things are presented.

If you’ve been in the country for a while and need a little of home, I love Prospero’s Books and Caliban’s Coffee House on Rustaveli Street. I’ve spent a LOT of time there, and even had an apartment just around the corner up the hill for a while. It’s welcoming and you’ll find locals and ex-pats alike.

Tbilisi’s had many changes in the past ten years, and so many have made it an awesome destination for tourists. Of course, one of the main things I love about Georgia is the AMAZING hospitality of the people. So many people are incredibly friendly and ready to go out of their way to help you out. Obviously, be careful, but if you even attempt some basic Georgian phrases you will be a prized welcome guest in someone’s store, B&B, or home. You pretty much can’t miss those eager to share the history, culture, and joy of their country.

Georgian language basics

Therefore, before we get on with our unforgettable things to do in Tbilisi as a family and with kids, let’s practice together:

Say:

gamarjoba (gah-mar-joe-bah) This means hello!

me lareni var (may lahren-ee var) My name is Lauren.

Tip here: You’ll want to insert your name instead of mine. 😉 In Georgian, you add an ee (long e) sound to the end of your name if it ends in a consonant sound, in this case. I’ll not trouble you with a bunch of grammar right now.

sasiamovnoa (sah-see-ah-mohv-noh-ah) It’s nice to meet you. (I love saying this word so had to add it in.)

didi madloba (dee-dee mahd-loh-bah) Thank you very much.

kargat (kar-gaht) Good-bye! (informal)

nakhvamdis (nahkh-vahm-dees) Good-bye!

Now say each 5 times fast. Kidding. However, practice makes perfect!

Do you want more Georgian phrases?

Click here to see my blog post and free printable on Georgian Language Phrases for Travelers. A mini Georgian dictionary or phrasebook, if you will.

Useful Georgian language phrases for travelers, free printable over Trinity Cathedral Tbilisi

Amazing things to do in Tbilisi with kids

This past summer we brought both our kids to Georgia, and while traveling with kids is always more stressful than on your own, it was an amazing journey. Do you look at travel as education? I certainly do. There’s a ginormous (yes, ginormous) difference between pointing to a small green blob on the map and labeling it Georgia on an exam and visiting the country, interacting with the rich culture.

Where to stay in Georgia with kids: Airbnb

First, be aware there are certainly a wide variety of hotels in Tbilisi such as the Marriott, Radisson Blu, Holiday Inn, Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, Betsy’s Hotel, and others. You’ll want to decide what kind of experience you’re looking for. Do you want a traditional hotel, a B&B with an amazing Georgian breakfast, or maybe like we did, your own apartment through Airbnb.

I can’t say enough good things about our experience with Airbnb in Georgia. We booked one in Tbilisi and in the west in Batumi when we were there, and had excellent accommodations and hosts. Often, the Airbnb host will pick you up at the airport for no extra charge, give you a mini-tour of the city on the way, and even take you back to the airport for your return flight no matter the crazy time.

Tbilisi Airbnb kitchen with light from glass door balcony

Another plus with Airbnb is, personally, I like to have my own kitchen when we travel, especially with the kids. That way they can get up and going slowly, eat breakfast, and enjoy ourselves without rushing off.

Also, as a mom with a kid with a food allergy, it is really nice to prepare some of our own meals and not have to ask about preparation and ingredients.

All that to say, an Airbnb apartment in Old Town within walking distance of many sites is a fabulous option when you’re with kids. You may not consider it one of our official “things to do in Tbilisi”, but where you stay is important. As an Airbnb tip, when you’re selecting your location, be sure it has many positive reviews and a history of people staying there.

Tbilisi Airbnb living room with kids on the couch

Tbilisi for kids

1. Mtatsminda Amusement Park

Tbilisi Mtatsminda Park entrance with Georgian fairy tale statues

Mtatsminda. The amusement park here is new in the last few years and an awesome activity for kids if they’re tired of visiting beautiful churches and touring Georgian museums. It’s a very popular spot for locals with children, not only tourists. If you look up the mountain to the Georgian Eiffel Tower (the Tbilisi TV Tower), you may see the Ferris wheel next to it. Yes, that’s where the park is located, right up at the top. This is one of our favorite things to do in Georgia with kids.

Tbilisi Mtatsminda Amusement Park leaning houses

Luckily, you can get there pretty easily by taking the funicular from Old Town up to the top for some fabulous views of the city. Or, if you have a child like mine who absolutely refuses to ride the funicular and has an attack of nerves and vertigo just looking at it, you can drive. Or rather, have a taxi or someone drive you up the winding road to the park entrance.

If you are lucky enough to take the funicular to the top you will experience some awesome views and find yourself at the top of the world. First, take a while to enjoy the view of the city and pick out all the places you’ve visited with the kids. They love this!

View overlooking Tbilisi from Mtatsminda

Next, turn around to find the beautiful white building, the fairly recently remodeled Funicular Restaurant. The three-story building was built from 1936-1938, and a long-time architectural landmark in the city. Moreover, I have it on good authority from the random person we met outside that it was a favorite restaurant of Stalin’s, the KGB, and featured in every single Soviet movie from the 60s-80s with a scene in Tbilisi. They’ve made it into a Tbilisi attraction for kids with games and rides all around.

Tbilisi Funicular Restaurant with blue sky

2. The Peace Bridge

Tbilisi, Georgia Peace Bridge

The Peace Bridge is a modern piece of architecture with a great pedestrian walkway. It’s impressive to the kids and located near the Rike Park and Funicular entrance. On your checklist of things to do in Tbilisi, walk across and take a family photo!

Tbilisi Peace Bridge

3. Rike Park (park area with play area, swings, giant chess board)

Rike Park is a fun place to walk around in the late afternoon with kids. When you think about what to do in Georgia with kids, this is a great place to visit. After you get your photo taken at the Peace Bridge, come on down to the park. There’s a nice playground area for kids with swings and a play structure and even a giant chessboard! Enjoy the early evening and play time before your evening Georgian meal.

Rike Park and view of the President's Palace

4. Old Town

Our Airbnb was located in a nice part of Old Town Tbilisi, and so much restoration has been done in the area recently! You’ll have a home base for your family trip to Georgia in Old Town to explore the traditional Georgian architecture, tourist shops, cafes, and parks.

The orange colored roofs of Old Town Tbilisi

If you’d like, you can easily get a tour guide to take you around on a walking tour or by bus or car. There are so many things to do in Tbilisi. Moreover, awesome places to visit in Georgia with kids. Ask your Airbnb host if they know of a local company or ask at a local hotel. If you don’t speak the language and don’t want to be miming most of your trip, this could be a good option. Although, more and more Georgians have been learning English and can help you out.

Want to see more of Old Tbilisi?

Tbilisi, Georgia doors and windows

5. Metekhi Church and gardens

First and foremost, Metekhi Church holds a special place in my heart because it’s the church where I was married. It’s located picturesquely above the Mtkvari River with the great statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali on horseback just in front. The story is that King Vakhtang built a church and residence on the location originally, the buildings destroyed by the Mongols in the 1235 invasion. In the late 1200s, King Demitrius II built the church and over the years it was fortified and restored. It’s been a barracks, a jail, and in Soviet times when religion was banned, an attempt at a museum was made then a theater.

Metekhi Church, Tbilisi

Thankfully it’s been restored back to a church and today is a magnificent symbol and site of Tbilisi.

Tbilisi Vakhtang statue, Metekhi

For Georgia kids, there’s a nice little cafe just next door where you can grab an ice cream or a drink then wander around the church gardens. Say gamarjoba to friendly Father Tarieli if you pass him in the garden. You’ll see some amazing views of Old Tbilisi, and have a place to pray and meditate as long as the kids allow. If you go in the church women are expected to cover their heads with a scarf, and there’s a box of shared scarves for guests in most churches (I much prefer my own!). Don’t be alarmed, but a kindly volunteer may chase you around with a scarf until you cover your head.

6. Narikala Fortress

From Metekhi you will be able to get a full view of Narikala Fortress in the distance. The kids will love exploring the old “castle” as you wander along the old wall and yard surrounding. This is the perfect Georgia for kids attraction to learn some history and be awed by the castle. The Church of St. Nicolas was rebuilt recently in 1996-97 after the original was destroyed in a fire. This is another fabulous high point to take breathtaking photos of the city. You can hike up to it, which I’ve done before, however, with kids, I’d recommend taking a cable car up.

Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi

If you’re super-lucky you may even get to see a local herd his flock of sheep through the fortress yard. Consequently, there may be squeals of delight, running about, and much discussion of the amazing sheep of the castle. Let me tell you they are some pretty sure-footed sheep climbing up and down questionable rocky paths. Adventure with the kids and act out a story at the castle!

7. Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral

Sameba Cathedral, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, is the third tallest Orthodox Church in the world and one of the largest religious buildings. A mixture of traditional Georgian architectural styles, compared to other well-known churches in Georgia it feels new and shiny. Probably because it was built relatively recently, from 1995-2004. It’s huge inside obviously, and the sheer space above and around is impressive.

Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral, Tbilisi

There’s plenty of space outside to wander around, look at the unusual trees and flowers and let the kids run a bit. This is a must-see in Tbilisi and will be even more impressive to kids. It’s really one of those fun things to do in Tbilisi with family. Just imagine being half your height and your eyes going up and up and up!

8. Open Air Museum of Ethnography

The Open Air Museum of Ethnography is just about the only way to get an education in 14 ethnographic zones in one location: Kartli, Samegrelo, Adjara, Abkhazia, Svaneti, Khevsureti, Kakheti, Meskheti, Javakheti, Guria, Imereti, Racha, Lechkhumi and Ossetia. This is a fun thing to do in Tbilisi and perfect for kids to explore the houses and artifacts from all the different regions of Georgia. The museum is a fabulous experience even on a regular day; however, they also have awesome festivals and special Georgian folk exhibits so look at their website here as you plan your trip.

History and culture buffs, this is the place for you!

9. Rustaveli Avenue 

Rustaveli Avenue is one of the main streets of Tbilisi, and on it, you’ll pass by many Tbilisi sights. Just on this one street, you’ll go by the monument of St. George, the Parliament building, Tbilisi’s number 1 public school, Kashueti St. George Church (with a park behind), the Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts.

Shota Rustaveli statue Tbilisi

Parent tip: I know it sounds terrible and right now you adamantly claim you would never stop in such a place while traveling. However, after a day of walking and wandering around these amazing places, kids get tired. They refuse to do anything. This may not be on your top things to do in Tbilisi. However, you are tired and may wish to visit the Georgian McDonald’s just next to the Rustaveli metro. Ahhhh! NEVER! You say – just wait.

Shota Rustaveli is arguably the most famous Georgian poet. There are universities named after him, almost every town in Georgia has a Rustaveli Street, and you’ll see this statue of him with a fountain in front on Rustaveli Street in Tbilisi. It’s conveniently located just next to the Rustaveli metro stop, and the Rustaveli McDonald’s. There are so many cool things to do in Tbilisi with Rustaveli in their name!

Shota Rustaveli was a medieval poet, the greatest of the Georgian Golden Age, and composed the epic poem The Knight in the Panther’s Skin. Born in 1166, he served during the time of “King” Tamar the Great (female) and is revered by all Georgians. You might even find a copy of the poem from one of the street vendors near the statue.

Tbilisi McDonald's menu

10. Dry Bridge

Are you still thinking, what to do in Tbilisi, Georgia? If you’re looking for a souvenir to take home, you’ll find paintings and souvenirs in Old Town shops (probably the most expensive place), outside souvenir and painting shops along Rustaveli Street just a bit north of the Rustaveli metro, or at the Dry Bridge.

The Dry Bridge is fun to visit and just look around at all the paintings, textiles, Georgian figures, anything you could want. I love to look at the paintings, but my daughter, of course, was on a mission to find the perfect Georgian hat, slippers, and doll. The four-year-old got tired after a while, but it’s a great place to grab any necessary souvenirs. Also, I’d suggest taking a taxi there and back as it’s not the easiest place to walk to. Wave a hand to pull over a taxi and tell the driver: Mshrali khidi (mshrah-lee khee-dee), this means dry bridge. They should get the picture. Also, make sure you have your hotel or Airbnb address with you to tell or show your driver when you return!

Man looking at displayed paintings at the Dry Bridge

There’s a sort of a flea market area on top of the bridge where you’ll find people selling old dishes, Communist paraphernalia, binoculars, silverware, whathaveyou. If you have room in your bags and enjoy flea markets and garage sales, it’s a little paradise. Just be careful and haggle a bit as it’s expected.

Georgian dolls, Tbilisi

11. Eat Some Good Khinkali

This is a do not miss! This is at the top of my list for fun things for kids in Georgia although I have it at number 11. Definitely, seek out some traditional Georgian restaurants and try the local cuisine. It’s AWESOME. I love almost everything, but make sure to order some good khinkali. A true Georgian will tell you to pick it up the dumpling by the nib, carefully bite into the side, and drink the lovely warm broth out of the middle. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT spill the juice on your plate (you will 😉 ) Only a wimp uses a fork!

Khinkali, meat dumplings, Tbilisi

You order khinkali by the number, and they come out on a big plate family style in the center of the table. So if I say: Otsi khinkali gvinda, that means we want 20 khinkali. There are different kinds although most places will have pork or beef. Sometimes you can even get potato, mushroom, or cheese. Normally I don’t embrace carbs, but I LOVE khinkali!

12. Sample the Churchkhela

Another Georgian food the kids will enjoy is called churchkhela. Basically, it’s hazelnuts or walnuts strung on a string. They’re then dipped in a grape juice, flour and corn flour boiled mixture, and set to dry. Traditionally, churchkhela was made as a treat in the home and would last and not go bad for a long time. In World War II and probably even before, men were sent off to war with churchkhela as a sort of travel food. The early Georgian fruit and nut bars that are amazing and addictive.

Churchkhela (stringed nuts dipped in grape juice and flour/corn flour mixture and dried) in various colors, Tbilisi

Allergy Warning: As we have a nut allergy in the family, we are always on guard at all times when traveling. In Georgia, you especially have to look out for walnuts because they are in sauces, salads, desserts, pretty much everything.

So are you planning a family trip to Tbilisi?

Lately, I’ve seen Tbilisi on National Geographic’s top places to visit this year, as well as on many other lists. Georgians are open and hospitable, and it’s a culture-filled trip. There are so many more things to do in Tbilisi also. My kids absolutely loved exploring, as well as through the country to the Black Sea. All things considered, it’s an education and experience not to be missed. Your taste buds will thank you!

How To Make Traditional Georgian Bread

How To Make Traditional Georgian Bread

This post contains affiliate links. Traditional Georgian Bread

When you travel do you search out the local restaurants? Do you try to get at least a glimpse of the culture and history of a place? I’m admittedly a history nerd and love to meet with the people who live where I travel to get their inside stories. Georgia is one of those magical places that celebrates and shares its own culture. With warm hospitality, Georgians are more than ready and willing to give you a huge traditional dinner party, dance, and song. Many people struggle on a daily basis in the country, but their pride in culture and tradition are a foundation and bring an optimism for the future.

Traditional Georgian bread pin, tonis puri

The bread and salt of Georgia

My husband is from Georgia, and this summer we got to take the kids over to see family, the people, and places he loves. Guests are greeted with the “bread and salt”, in Georgia generally meaning a feast, always including bread. Most any meal you eat in the country will involve a plate of bread on the table. Moreover, bread is a respected food, almost revered. It’s a huge insult to throw it away or waste it. The salt on the table represents the spice, or the relationships and friendships made.

Being Georgian, my husband has always emphasized the importance of the bread. Can you imagine my 8-year-old’s excitement when she was invited to help make it in the traditional oven? If you look at the picture below, it’s sort of an earthen kiln, called a “tone”.

Traditional Georgian bread, tone

Georgian culture is rich and deep, full of emotion. It’s fascinating to see bread being made today in the same way it’s been made for hundreds of years. It represents the welcoming hospitality of the Georgian people. Take a dive into Georgian culture and learn how this traditional Georgian bread is made. 

Preparing traditional Georgian bread, tonis puri

First of all, make the basic bread dough and set it to rise. Families use a simple recipe including flour, salt, water, and yeast. Then, prepare the oven (kiln) by starting a huge fire in the center and burning down the wood or dried grapevines to ashes. Every household (nearly) in Georgia has their own grapevines and make wine. I could go into the significance and symbolism of using the grapevines, but I’ll save that for another time. The fire must burn for half an hour or more to get the oven hot enough to bake the bread. While this happens the dough rises and you set out the cooling racks.

Preparing the dough

Once the fire burns long enough, the ashes will smolder down at the bottom of the oven. At that point, place large sheets of metal over the hot ashes so the dough can be safely placed on the sides of the oven (tone). 

Traditional Georgian Bread preparation

The oven’s ready

Then, pat out the risen dough and press it in a sort of oval form all over the insides of the kiln. This is not a process you go through for one or two loaves, no! A family will bake 10-20 or as many as fit in the kiln. Then, that bread is used for a large event, or for the family for the next couple of days or so as well as for the cousins and neighbors surrounding. The next time it will be someone else’s turn to bake.

Dough put in the kiln

Bake the traditional Georgian bread

As soon as you stick the bread dough to the walls of the kiln, carefully remove the metal sheets from the ashes below. Now the heat and steam can come up and hit the dough to bake. Finally, close the top of the kiln (tone), and bake the bread for 20-30 minutes.

Traditional Georgian Bread in the kiln

When it’s ready, take off the top of the oven and remove the bread loaves (tonis puri) and set to cool.

Baked traditional Georgian bread

Have you ever smelled freshly baked bread? If so, you will know your mouth immediately begins to water, and you’re drawn to the smell. This is the time the kids, and some adults, suddenly decide it’s time to help so they can rip off a bit of that delicious yumminess. Bread brings the family and guests together with smiles and laughter.

Traditional Georgian Bread supra

Grandmother Tamar’s story

Several years ago we visited my husband’s grandmother’s home in the village of Ali, Shida Kartli region of Georgia, for her 100th birthday. She shared many stories during the time we were there, but one stood out for me. With a big smile, she told me the story of two naughty little boys, my husband and his brother, who used to “help” her around the house.

They would get into everything, but one day she was making the bread in the “tone”, as she did often. The boys were told to stay away from the oven, she would give them bread when it was dinner time. But being two mischievous and impatient boys, they could not wait for dinner. When she found them they had the lid off the oven and two heads were down inside the kiln (oven). Thankfully, it had already cooled down, but there were bits like cracker still stuck to the side. My husband reached far in to get one of these pieces and actually toppled inside. Grandma Tamar had to jerk both boys out, and my husband’s head was covered in the ash from the bottom of the oven.

She cackled and said he had some scratches, was covered in ash, and looked a mess. Really, it could have been worse, but the bread was medicine. They made and shared it together just as her ancestors did and her grandchildren do today.

So tell me,

How do you welcome guests to your house? What traditional foods or crafts does your family enjoy?

Do you want to learn more about Georgia?

Read about our favorite places to visit as a family in Batumi, Georgia, on the Black Sea.

Batumi with kids feature

Learn more about Georgian food and traditions:

Tasting Georgia: A Food and Wine Journey in the Caucasus by Carla Capalbo

Supra: A Feast of Georgian Cooking by Tiko Tuskadze

Lonely Planet Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet


Tbilisi, Georgia: Doors and Windows

Tbilisi, Georgia: Doors and Windows

This page contains affiliate links. Tbilisi, Georgia

I’ve always been attracted to different kinds of architecture, specifically doors and windows. Over the summer we took the kids to Tbilisi, Georgia and then around the country. Naturally, I spent much of the time chasing the kids around, but I also tried to get some good photos to remember the trip. Time and time again I found myself taking pictures of doors, windows, and buildings.

What draws your eye to a door or a window?

To me, a door or a window can say or hide much about a culture. Moreover, a closed-door always makes me more curious. Curiosity’s not a bad thing, so the monkey tells us, but it makes one wonder. What is behind that ancient wooden door?

When I was in college, I spent some time in Oxford, England. There you can walk the streets and see so many closed doors, but then suddenly one opens up, and you get a peek in. Is it to a stairway or a room? No, it opens up to a beautiful quad grassy area with pathways and more buildings across. The colleges of Oxford allow only the chosen ones in through their doors to the beauty of the grass, gardens, and the inside buildings. As a curious one, I had to get myself invited into a few: to a play, a lecture, and even in with a tourist group.

Possibility

So really, it’s the possibility of what’s behind that door or window that may draw you to it. Whenever I travel I look at the different buildings, old, new, run-down, or immaculate. Especially when traveling in Tbilisi, Georgia and the surrounding areas, what you expect to find on the inside of a door is not at all what you find when you go in for a visit. A run-down building with trash around it, some broken brick, and wires hanging about can lead you into to a modern state of the art apartment, nothing like you’d expect.

Imagine

Now sit back and imagine. Look at some of these buildings and doors in Tbilisi, Georgia and around the country. Georgia is a beautiful mountainous country with beaches on the Black Sea, skiing in the Caucasus, vineyards, and powerful traditional music and dance. This area of the world’s also had a difficult history, but so many of the strong people there have risen above the hardships and celebrated their culture and traditions in a modern Georgia.

What do you think’s behind that door?

Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia, Cat in a doorway

What’s inside this building? Is it someone’s home, an office? Has it been abandoned or now inhabited by cats? Who owns the car in front of it?

Tbilisi, Georgia door with ivy

Now, what’s behind this door? Is it a church, an office, or a storage area? In addition, who goes through this door, and what does that symbol mean?

Tbilisi, Georgia Parliament

This building has seen a lot. Built in Soviet times, members of Parliament convene here and make decisions for the country. What is the monument on the front steps? Furthermore, who else has walked those steps and tried to go through those arched doorways?

St. Nino metal door

A woman carrying a cross. Who could she be? Why Saint Nino brought the distinctive cross to Georgia, formed out of grapevines and entwined with her own hair. Orthodoxy is a major part of the daily lives of many Georgians. Who’s behind this door?

Tbilisi, Georgia church

What has happened to this once ornate church? Did this happen during Soviet times? Who goes through those doors now?

Old town Tbilisi wooden building

How many people live in this house? How long has it been in the family? Does the design on the rug mean anything?

More Tbilisi, Georgia

Door with grapevines

Do you see those vines hanging down? In Georgia, you will see grapevines on nearly every house. Traditions run deep, and Georgians make wine to celebrate and welcome guests. It’s truly an art form. I wonder who planted this vine in the middle of the city?

Brown church door

How long has this door been in place? It’s not a work of art like the Saint Nino door, but it tells a history just the same.

Opera house

What is this place? Can you imagine a famous opera singer on the balcony? The people are dressed up to attend an orchestra or boys’ choir performance. It’s the Tbilisi Opera house!

Restaurant overlooking Tbilisi

If you’re a fan of old Soviet movies, I’ve been told this restaurant appears in all the ones with scenes in Tbilisi. Famous movie stars, politicians, and the well to do have dined at this restaurant at the top of the mountain overlooking Tbilisi, Georgia. The funicular brings you up to the top from the center of town. I can imagine quite a few scenes happening here!

Beyond Tbilisi, Georgia

Train station at night

Train station doors by night. Was that a bat that just dive-bombed me?! Look out for ghosts! Phew, that’s just my shadow.

House front

Here’s a cheerful house front. Grapevines, laundry, a happy yellow with open doors inviting over the neighbors.

Batumi blue apartment building

What is it like to live in one of these giant apartment blocks? How could each one be individualized to the tastes of its owner?

Soviet Batumi building

Imagine this building in its prime. Who would have stayed here at this prime location on the beach of the Black Sea? Vacationers, government leaders? Maybe someone on house arrest?? What do you think happened here?

St. George Batumi

Saint George is not only the Patron Saint of England but also of Georgia. Who doesn’t love the idea of George slaying the dragon?

Batumi green apartments

Again we have the apartment block, but here at the seaside, it’s a brighter shade of green. How many people live here? Incidentally, are they rented out or for vacationers? Hmmm…

Explore Batumi, Georgia!

Batumi with kids feature

Metekhi gift shop door

Small church by the church

Wooden doors

Follow the Open Door

Gonio Fortress

Be curious. Wander. Travel is an education in so many things. Listen to the stories of the people around you. The doors will open up, and you’ll be invited in to be a part of a new culture, tradition, and way of life.

Writing Prompt

Any one of these pictures would make an awesome writing prompt for a short story. If you use one I’d love to read it! Take the time and go through that door to a new world!

Curious to know more? Click on the object to take you to it on Amazon:

   

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