Does Georgia have the Mongols to thank for khinkali?
In an article published last year in The South China Morning Post entitled ‘Georgians have the Mongols to thank for their favourite dumpling’, the author likens one of Georgia’s most revered culinary staples to steamed Chinese dumplings that existed among Eastern empires throughout antiquity before finally reaching Georgia.
“Called khinkali, they resemble giant xiaolongbao, the soup dumplings from Nanxiang, Shanghai. And like xiaolongbao, they contain a soupy minced-meat mixture and are sealed with pleats ranging in number from a dozen to 19,” the author notes in the article.
The article goes on to rightly describe how unlike xiaolongbao, khinkali are boiled and not steamed. She also correctly notes how khinkali are traditionally filled with spiced meat, but in some cases mushrooms and even cheese.
Later the author attributes the concept of khinkali to an idea that was born from a culture that historically migrated from East to West.
“The concept of dumplings is said to have been carried west from China, across Mongolia, Russia and Georgia, by the Mongols in the 13th century. It’s believed the Mongols saw dumplings as a convenient way for warriors to carry parcels of meat for sustenance to the battlefield, and that the more luxurious and delicate soupy versions were later developed by those who had settled.”
Nevertheless, whether khinkali is a Georgian concept or not, it does not change the fact that the khinkali remains a tasty staple of Georgian cuisine, and will likely always be a celebrated dish that both locals and foreigners will appreciate in the years to come.