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Khinkali (also known as Chinkali or Xinkali) are stuffed pasta dumplings that are a favorite dish from the Country of Georgia.
They are one of the staples of Georgian Food, often thought of as one of the national dishes of Georgia. Check out our article about “What to eat in Georgia” for a full list of the most popular Georgian Dishes.
They are similar to Chinese Soup Dumplings, (Xiao Long Bao), but are much larger than their bite-sized cousins.
These hearty little bags of goodness are typically served up on large platters and shared with friends at popular Georgian restaurants.
Once fully cooked, the meaty stuffing releases a rich broth into the center of the dumpling. The ingenious inventors of this dumpling use an accordion-like fold to close it, resulting in a small handle at the top.
The Origins of Khinkali (ხინკალი)
Originating in the Georgian mountain regions of Pshavi, these dumplings were historically crafted as a portable and filling meal for shepherds and travelers braving the rugged terrain.
The dish’s name is said to be derived from the Georgian verb “khind-,” which means to twist or turn, alluding to the distinctive twisted knob-like shape of the dumpling’s top.
Traditionally filled with spiced meat, herbs, and broth, khinkali evolved from a practical meal for laborers into a cultural symbol that transcends Georgian borders. Today, it is a staple of Georgian cuisine, celebrated for its flavors, unique presentation, and the convivial communal ritual of consuming it.
Don’t forget to pin or bookmark the recipe for later!
What to Serve with Khinkali
There’s nothing wrong with just gorging on a plate of khinkali on its own. But, it’s also common to complement the flavors of the dumplings with a selection of side dishes that enhance the overall dining experience. Here are some popular side dishes that pair well:
Georgian Tomato and Cucumber Salad: A simple salad made with tomatoes and cucumbers in a zesty dressing made with cilantro and walnuts is a popular side dish for khinali.
Georgian Cheese Bread (Khachapuri): This traditional Georgian cheese-filled bread serves as a delightful accompaniment to khinkali, offering a contrast of textures and flavors.
Georgian Eggplant Rolls (Nigvziani Badrijani): These savory eggplant rolls stuffed with a flavorful walnut paste are a popular Georgian appetizer that complements the rich flavors of khinkali.
Georgian Spinach Salad (Pkhali): This vibrant and tangy spinach salad, typically seasoned with garlic, walnuts, and spices, provides a refreshing and colorful addition to the meal.
Georgian Spicy Beef Ribs in Ajika Sauce: Ajika, or adjika sauce, is made with spicy peppers, cilantro, and a blend of exotic spices. This is a perfect recipe for those who love meaty ribs and enjoy their food on the spicy side!
How to Eat Khinkali (Chinkali)
The soupy nature of the filling poses an interesting dilemma when it comes time to eat them. How do you break into the dumpling without your plate, or you, becoming covered in hot juicy broth?
The first time you eat Khinkali, you may end up with a bit of a mess, with the hot broth spilling everywhere. There is a technique to avoid this.
The proper way to eat khinkali is to hold it by the handle with your fingers and then take a small bite from the top of the dumpling, making a small hole. Then you can blow on the broth to cool it.
When it is cool enough to eat, you slurp out the broth and then gobble the rest of the dumpling, and repeat.
The doughy top is traditionally discarded, which allows you to keep count of how many khinkali you have eaten.
I’ve heard of people being able to amass up to 25 at a time, which to me is as remarkable as someone claiming to stop at one.
How to Make Georgian Khinkali Dumplings
Varieties of Khinkali
Apart from the traditional meat-filled khinkali, various regions and chefs have developed several delightful variations to cater to different tastes and preferences. Some popular khinkali variations include:
Mushroom Khinkali: Filled with a savory mixture of seasoned mushrooms, herbs, and sometimes cheese, this variation appeals to vegetarian and mushroom enthusiasts.
Potato Khinkali: Mashed potatoes seasoned with herbs and spices are a common alternative filling, providing a comforting and hearty option for those who prefer a vegetarian or lighter option.
Cheese Khinkali: A version that includes a blend of cheeses, herbs, and sometimes spices, catering to cheese lovers looking for a unique twist on the traditional recipe. Typical cheeses used include cottage cheese, ricotta, or traditional brined sulguni cheese (similar to mozzarella).
Mixed Filling Khinkali: Some chefs combine various ingredients such as meat, mushrooms, and cheese to create a diverse and flavorful dumpling that offers a medley of tastes in each bite.
Sweet Khinkali: While not as common, sweet khinkali may feature fillings such as fruits, sweetened cheese, or jams, creating a dessert-like variation of this traditional Georgian dish.
Related articles about travel in the country of Georgia and Georgian Cuisine that you might enjoy:
Khinkali Recipe Yields 25 Dumplings
- 1 1/2 pounds (.68 kg) ground beef
- 1 1/2 pounds (.68 kg) ground pork
- 4 tablespoons (71 g) butter, softened (optional but recommended if using lean meat)
- 1 1/4 cups (375 ml) water
- 2 small onions, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small bunch cilantro with stems, minced (1/2 cup packed)
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon (5.9 g) salt
For the Dough
- 4 1/2 cups (563 g) all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
- 1 cup (237 ml) warm water
- 1 teaspoon (5.9 g) kosher salt
- Combine all of the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and set aside
- Heat water until it is hot but not boiling.
- Combine the water with sifted flour and salt.
- When all of the ingredients are combined, begin to knead the dough. The dough should be dry enough not to stick to your fingers. Continue to add small amounts of flour until a smooth ball is formed. The dough should be very stiff, similar to pie crust.
- Cover the dough and allow it to sit for 15 minutes in a warm dry place.
- Knead for an additional 6 minutes, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Cut the dough into 2 equal parts.
- Roll the dough out on a clean floured surface using a rolling pin.
- Cut the dough into 3" (7.6 cm) rounds, using a form such as a cookie cutter or even a drinking glass.
- Any excess dough can be recombined to form additional wrappers.
- Roll out each round until it is about 5 inches in diameter.
- Place 1 1/2 tablespoons (15 g) of the ground meat filling in the center of the dough round.
- Pin the dumpling using an accordion-style fold.
- Pinch the top tightly to ensure no filling can escape.
- Place the dumplings in a pot of salted boiling water. Gently stir the dumplings with a wooden spoon to ensure that they don't stick together.
- When they float to the surface after about 7 minutes (bottom side up) they are done.
- Carefully remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon and place the dumplings on a serving platter.
- Sprinkle with finely ground black pepper (optional) and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving Calories 110Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 9mgSodium 30mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 5g
Values are estimates only, depending on the exact ingredients used.