Khinkali (Georgian dumplings) are one of the most popular and delicious food items that you can eat on any trip to Georgia. These steamy, flavourful soup dumplings are considered one of Georgia’s national dishes and are one of the “must-try” foods when you visit Georgia. While these delicious dumplings are available all over the place in Georgia for very affordable prices, they can be harder to find once you return home. If you developed a khinkali habit while travelling through this beautiful nation in the Caucasus or simply want to experience Georgian cuisine from your own kitchen, then this khinkali recipe is for you!
Making khinkali is one of the most fun ways that you can tap into Georgian culture and cuisine. Despite the fact that they may look complicated and involved to make, I assure you that the process is actually quite simple and even the most cautious of cooks can master the technique with some practice!
What is great about khinkali is that they aren’t strictly a carnivorous food! Much like the rest of Georgian cuisine, there is an option to make vegetarian Georgian dumplings, as well. In fact, they are actually my preferred type. So if you’re looking for a mushroom khinkali recipe or a meat khinkali recipe, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn how to make khinkali!
What Are Georgian Khinkali?
First off, we need to discuss what khinkali are before I go full force into how to make them. Whether you’re doing some pre-trip research on Georgian food or whether you’re just a keen “armchair traveller” interested in exploring world cuisines from the comfort of your home kitchen, khinkali needs to be explained.
To make things as simple as possible, your typical khinkali is very much like a jumbo-sized Shanghai soup dumpling. The dough is thicker, the flavours are a bit different and the size is definitely a lot bigger, but they look remarkably similar.
These dumplings tend to be about the size of a small fist and are most traditionally filled with a mixture of ground beef and pork that’s spiced with ground coriander seeds, caraway, chilli, and fresh cilantro (coriander). Once they are boiled, the juices in the meat form delicious soup that you suck out before eating the dumpling whole.
There are lots of variations of khinkali — in the mountains of Svaneti, for example, it is quite common for the dumplings to be filled with lamb. For vegetarians or Georgians who are fasting for religious reasons, it is also very common to find mushroom khinkali on a menu.
Other, less common variations of khinkali that you will see if you visit Georgia are cheese khinkali, potato khinkali, and khinkali stuffed with greens. However, for the purposes of this article, we will give you a traditional beef and pork recipe and a mushroom khinkali recipe for vegetarians or those who try to limit your meat intake.
How to Make Khinkali
Now it’s time to talk about how to make khinkali! As I’ve mentioned earlier, making Georgian dumplings looks quite a lot harder than it actually is and you’re not going to need any special equipment or skills to make it. Just have some confidence (and maybe a glass or two for Georgian wine!) and have a fun evening of khinkali-making!
For full measurements and details, please consult the recipe card at the end of this article.
Khinkali Dough Recipe
The first thing you need to make when making your khinkali is the dough. It is a very straightforward dough recipe that is incredibly easy to make — all you need is regular, all-purpose (plain) flour, a bit of salt, an egg and some water.
Weigh out your flour in a large bowl and mix in a little bit of salt to flavour the dough a little bit. Then, make a well with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into it — this is not unlike how you would make a pasta dough.
Pour a little bit of water over the flour and egg and mix until the flour is well-hydrated and a shaggy dough forms, adding more water if necessary. I would caution to add less water than you think you may need as the flour will continue to hydrate as you knead and make the filling. You will find it easier to handle a dough that isn’t too tacky.
Once a shaggy dough forms, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough with the heal of you hands for about 5 minutes. This step is essential to developing a level of gluten in the dough that will allow you to easily roll it out and form the dumplings. You will notice the consistency changing as you continue to knead — you’re looking for something that is pliable and easy to manipulate that feels not unlike Play-dough.
Once you’ve finished kneading your dough, put it in a clean, oiled bowl (to prevent sticking!), cover, and set aside. It’s time to make your filling now!
Mushroom Khinkali Recipe
Though it isn’t the most traditional filling, mushroom khinkali are my personal favourite iteration of the Georgian dumplings. Georgians eat these when they are fasting for religious reasons (when it is forbidden to eat meat), however, they are perfect for vegetarians or those who just don’t particularly like meat. You’ll find varying quality of mushroom khinkali throughout Georgia, but this recipe uses the same flavours that you will find in the meat dumplings.
First things first, you’re going to want to start with far more mushrooms than you think is necessary. Mushrooms contain quite a bit of water, which they will release upon cooking and will shrink drastically.
Heat about a tablespoon of neutral oil (Georgians would use sunflower oil, but any neutral vegetable oil will do) in a large saute pan over medium heat until shimmering and add your coarsely chopped mushrooms. Add a bit of salt to the mushrooms in order to both season and to facilitate the release of moisture. Sautee these for about five minutes until they reduce in size.
Add three cloves of minced garlic, one minced red chilli, about a teaspoon of ground coriander and half a teaspoon of dried kondari — also called savory, if you can’t find this, you can use thyme as they have similar flavours. If you’re using fresh thyme, add an entire teaspoon.
In Georgia, I use the ubiquitous red chillies that can be found here — they have a milder, sweeter flavour than their green counterparts. Elsewhere, you should be fine using a Fresno chilli — remove the seeds and membrane if you don’t want to add a lot of heat to the filling. I, personally, love spicy food so forgo this step. You can also use about half a teaspoon of dried, crushed red chillies. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Sautee all of this for about 5-10 minutes more until the flavours meld and the mushrooms reduce in size even more. Remove from the heat and stir in about half a cup of chopped fresh cilantro (coriander). Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.
Meat Khinkali Recipe
Now for the most traditional khinkali recipe — the one with the ground beef and pork filling. This filling is actually a bit less involved than its mushroom counterpart because it doesn’t require any of its own cooking. Also, the flavours and measurements are largely the same.
In a large bowl, combine 300 grams of ground beef and 200 grams of ground pork (if you don’t eat pork, feel free to use ground veal in this — the flavour will be similar. Alternatively, you can make the Svaneti version and use ground lamb in your khinkali).
Add salt and pepper to season. Stir in half a teaspoon of caraway seeds along with the same measurements of minced garlic, ground coriander, chilli, kondari (or thyme), and fresh cilantro (coriander) as mentioned in the mushroom filling recipe above.
Forming your Khinkali
Now comes the fun part — actually forming your khinkali! This may look like the most daunting step in this khinkali recipe, but I assure you that it looks harder than it actually is.
First off, you need to roll out your dough. On a lightly floured surface, take your dough and roll it until it’s about 3 mm thick. Using a drinking glass or circle cutter that’s about 8 centimetres in diameter, cut as many rounds as you can from the dough. This recipe makes about 20 khinkali — so try to get 20 rounds from your dough. It can be gathered and re-rolled if you don’t get quite enough from your initial roll.
Once your rounds are cut, go back over them with the rolling pin and roll them out until they reach about 10-12 centimetres in diameter and the dough is about 1-2 mm thick — you don’t want it too thin as it will increase your risk of the dough breaking and you filling bursting out during cooking. This is also the reason you knead the dough for as long as you do — it creates gluten which allows you to stretch the dough significantly without it breaking.
Once your dough is adequately rolled out, it’s time to fill your dumplings.
Working one by one, take about a tablespoon of filling and place it in the centre of the round. Using both hands, pick up one side of the dough, holding it about 2 centimetres apart in between your thumb and forefinger. Take the dough in your left hand and fold it over and add it to the dough in your right hand, pinching to seal, creating one fold in your khinkali. Continue this motion until you’ve folded and pinched the entire round of dough. Twist the top of the khinkali to seal it completely. Repeat on remaining dumplings.
Cooking your Khinkali
Once your khinkali are formed, it’s time to cook them! This is as easy as dropping them into some boiling water and waiting for a bit.
Bring about 2 litres of salted water to boil in a large pot. Using a spider or slotted spoon, lower your khinkali into the boiling water. If you’re following the mushroom khinkali recipe, cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the dough is cooked and the mushroom filling is sufficiently heated through.
If using the traditional meal filling, cook the dumplings for a total of about 10-12 minutes, until everything is completely cooked through and a brothy soup has formed within.
Remove from the water using a spider or slotted spoon. Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper.
How to Eat Khinkali
Now comes the best part — eating your khinkali! If you want to behave like a proper Georgian, there is a protocol that needs to be followed in order to each these delicious dumplings properly.
The first thing you need to know is that khinkali are a finger food. The second thing to know is that you never eat the top bit of the dumpling. This is for two reasons — one, the top is used as a handle that you hold in order to eat and second, it is often very doughy and sometimes it doesn’t cook through all the way, meaning that you’re likely going to end up with a gross, raw flour taste in your mouth if you do eat it.
If you’ve made the meat khinkali recipe, pick it up from the top and make a small bite of the dough in the bottom and suck out the broth before biting into the dumpling full force. If you made mushroom khinkali, there isn’t going to be any soup, so you don’t have to take a dainty bite to begin with and can eat it a little less carefully.
Traditionally, khinkali isn’t served with anything other than a dusting of black pepper and you would get some funny looks from Georgians if you put any sauces on it. However, I personally love some mushroom khinkali with a bit of tkemali (Georgian sour plum sauce), although, they are just as good without anything at all!
- 300 grams (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 6 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
- 1 egg
- 100 millilitres (1/2 cup) water
- 500 grams (1 pound) mushrooms, chopped
- 300 grams (10 ounces) ground beef - for meat filling only
- 200 grams (7 ounces) ground pork - for meat filling only
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) ground coriander
- 6 grams (1 teaspoon) fresh thyme, chopped OR 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) dried kondari or thyme
- 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) crushed red pepper or 1 mild red chilli, minced
- 3 grams caraway seeds (1/2 teaspoon) - for meat filling only
- 15 grams (1/2 cup) fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
How to Make Dough
- Combine flour & salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre of the flour and crack egg in.
- Pour in 50ml of water and mix until shaggy dough forms
- Add more water as needed to properly hydrate the dough
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until consistency mimics play dough, about 5-10 minutes.
- Put dough in an oiled bowl, cover, set aside
How to Make Mushroom Filling
- Over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in large saute pan until shimmering, add mushrooms with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook until mushrooms have reduced in size and released moisture, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes
- Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic, coriander, thyme or kondari, and chilli. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms further reduce and flavours meld, about 5 - 10 more minutes
- Turn off heat, stir in fresh cilantro and transfer to a small bowl, set aside
How to Make Meat Filling
- Combine beef and pork in a large bowl.
- Add garlic, coriander, thyme or kondari, chilli, caraway seeds and fresh cilantro. Mix thoroughly to combine. Set aside.
How to Form Khinkali
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until 3 millimetres thick. Using an 8-centimetre drinking glass or circular cutter, cut 20 rounds of dough. Roll over each round until they reach 10-12 centimetres in diameter, about 1-2 millimetres thick.
- Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of dough round. Lift one side of dough with both hands, holding between your thumb and forefinger about 2 centimetres apart. Fold dough in your left hand to your right hand, pinch to seal. Repeat until there is no more dough to fold. Twist the top of the dumpling to completely seal. Set aside.
How to Cook Khinkali
- Bring 2 litres of salted water to a rolling boil
- Lower khinkali into the water using a spider. Cook mushroom khinkali for 6-8 minutes. Cook meat khinkali for 10-12 minutes. Remove from water using a spider or slotted spoon.
- Serve immediately with back pepper.
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Learning how to make khinkali is one of the best ways that you can keep the memories of your trip to Georgia alive or experience the flavours and culture of the country without having to leave your home.
Are you interested in making this khinkali recipe? Do you have any questions about how to make khinkali? Let us know in the comments!