Tbilisi Sketches: Bread, the Georgian Way
28 November, 2015
You must have Flash Player installed in order to see this player.
Culinarybackstreets has dedicated a special article to Shotis puri or simply Shoti, a traditional Georgian delicious bread shaped like a canoe.

This is what the article says:

"Editor’s note: This is the first installment in our new monthly series, Tbilisi Sketches, with illustrated dispatches covering local spots in Georgia’s capital. Contributor Andrew North is an artist and journalist based in Tbilisi who spent many years before that reporting from the Middle East and Asia.

“You’ve made me look angry,” laughs Marekhi Khatiashvili when we show our drawing of her making traditional Georgian bread in one of the tone bakeries in Tbilisi’s old city.

“You’re concentrating,” I reply. “I was trying to show how hard you work.”

It is incredibly hard work. Marekhi’s day begins at 4:30 a.m., when she and her co-worker Nona Khatiashvili (no relation) start making giant tubs of dough in the back of the low-ceilinged bakery, ready to be baked into the long, flat loaves of bread that Georgians call shoti. It’s a ritual of daily life here.

As they turn and press the heavy mix of flour, water, salt and yeast, it is almost up to their elbows. “Everything is done by hand,” says Nona. “That’s the special ingredient.”

Loaves of shoti, illustration by Andrew North
geotv.ge
The dough is then fashioned into long strips, and at 7 a.m. they bake the first batch in the tone (pronounced “tone-ay”), a circular, brick-lined oven dug into the floor with a gas or wood fire at the bottom. It’s a Georgian version of the tandoor used in many parts of Asia (the words are related, adopted and adapted during the country’s many years under Persian and Ottoman rule).

Leaning over the oven, the women stick the strips of dough to the inside walls. It’s not a job for anyone with a bad back. To reach the lower levels, they bend almost double into the oven, wedging their feet against a metal guard on the floor so they don’t fall in. Even in winter, they are soon sweating in the fierce heat welling up from the tone, built inside what used to be a small garage.

A television covered in a thin film of flour dust plays an Indian soap dubbed into Georgian.

The loaves are ready in minutes. With a long-handled hook in one hand and a kind of scraping tool in the other, they deftly
prise each piece loose and flip them onto a rack.

A batch of shoti baking in the tone, photo by Andrew North

geotv.ge
And then there’s a customer at the window.

“Do you have any hot?” That’s often all they say.

Nona nods and asks how many he wants. He pays 1.20 Georgian lari (about 50 cents) for two loaves.

The same scene plays out across the country in thousands of other small, street-side bakeries tucked into basements, corners, front rooms and the spaces in between – the smell of the fresh shoti dangling temptingly in the air outside.

Relatives and friends often stop by, bringing children with them. With warm bread also comes hot gossip. Tone bakeries know most of their regular customers so they are often the local news agency.

But it’s relentless toil. Over several hours, I watch the rhythm of Georgian bread-making unfold, trying to keep up on my sketchpad. And they’ll be at it until 9 p.m. each night. But except when she is leaning over the oven, Marekhi keeps up a constant flow of jokes and banter.

Customers coming and going at a tone bakery in Old Tbilisi, photo by Andrew North
geotv.ge
They make an average of 600 loaves a day, many more on holidays. Three women work there in all, and they each do two weeks solid and then have a week off, returning to their homes in eastern Georgia.

“It’s a hard job,” they both agree, especially in summer when temperatures reach nearly 40C (about 104F). But they say they earn far more here than if they stayed in their home villages.

“This is blessed job,” says Nona. “Like wine, bread is a gift from God.”

And then there’s another voice at the window:

“Is there any hot?”
Location: Amaghleba Street, just past the turn to Gergeti Street (Sololaki)", reads the article published by Culinarybackstreets .

Illustrations, photos and video by Andrew North

Print
Other Stories
Most amazing cheese boats served in Georgian restaurant in NY
Georgian boat-shaped cheese bread named Adjaruli Khachapuri is not only Georgians’ beloved dish but now has already become a favorite dish of many people internationally.
Machari – New wine fermentation process in kvevri
Machari in Georgian is the name for new wine, when the pressed grape juice reaches the condition of fermentation. Machari has intensive aroma and sweet taste.
Delicious process: Preparing famous Georgian candy churchkhela
Georgian candy churchkhela, also known as Georgian Snickers, is widely popular with locals and especially with tourists.
Georgian wine vs. popular international varieties - Famous Master of Wine gives comparison
The first recipient of the Master of Wine title in Asia and a multi-media wine journalist Debra Meiburg compares Georgian
How perfect khachapuri is made in Guria
There are various methods of baking Georgian cheese bread khachapuri in different regions of the country.
How to make Adjarian Khachapuri at home
Adjaruli Khachapuri is another version of Georgian cheese bread. The dish originated in the seaside region of Georgia, Adjara.
Georgian food, wine gaining ground in US culinary scene
A former plastic surgeon, Maia Acquaviva left Georgia 3 years ago and went to live in New York, where she opened a Georgian restaurant.
Tbilisi Sketches: In the Court of the Khinkali Queen
Culinarybackstreets, the English language website reviewing authentic places to eat and discovering local interesting dishes, features Khinkali,
Tbilisi Sketches - Muscling Up Some Churchkhela
Culinarybackstreets has dedicated yet another article to Georgian cuisine after the previous thorough description of how Georgian bread Shoti
Five most delicious dishes straight from the Georgian mountains
Georgian cuisine boasts immense variety, with the menu being almost completely different
Imeruli khachapuri – One of Georgia’s most popular type of cheese bread
Khachapuri! When you hear this word, know that it means crispy thin bread filled with soft tender cheese, which stretches from your mouth as you take a bite.
It’s definitely worth a try – Golden eggplants filled with walnuts
The eggplant has a long history in Georgian cuisine.
Soup-Kharcho with rice - Time to warm up!
Soup-kharcho is one version of the traditional Georgian soup Kharcho, which is made with beef, walnuts and rice.
Traditional ajapsandali with a contemporary twist – You must try this!
Ajapsandali is a traditional Georgian spring-summer dish.
If you’ve never tried juicy chakhokhbili, then this is a must have recipe!
Chakhokhbili is stewed chicken with fresh herbs and tomatoes.
Time to make Adjaruli khacahpuri – A delicious bread boat with egg and cheese
Adjaruli Khachapuri is another version of Georgian cheese bread.
Chikhirtma - Hearty chicken soup with a distinct flavor
Chikhirtma is a delicious chicken soup from eastern Georgia. It is a nice blend of chicken broth, vinegar, eggs, spices and greens.
Making gorgeously ornamented Easter eggs - Easy and creative
Easter is coming, which means lots of fun, crafting and Easter activities - like decorating your very own Easter eggs!
Ajika sauce – Very Georgian and very spicy
Ajika is a hot and spicy Georgian sauce, which originated in Samegrelo and Abkhazia regions.
Chanakhi – Tenderly stewed meat with vegetables in a clay pot
Chanakhi is an eastern dish, very popular in Caucasus region. It is cooked differently in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.
Chakapuli – Stewed lamb in white wine
Chakapuli is a traditional Georgian dish made with lamb and white wine. Often it is served during the feast of Orthodox Easter.
Shkmeruli: Juicy fried chicken in garlic sauce
With this video recipe you will easily learn how to cook the delicious and even cherished Georgian chicken dish Shkmeruli.
Pkhali - Piquant beetroot leaf balls
Pkhali is a popular dish that can be made with many different types of leaves, including spinach, nettles, cabbage and beetroot. It can also be made with vegetables and nuts. In this recipe we show how to make Pkhali with red beetroot leaves.
Lobiani with white beans that will melt in your mouth
Lobiani is enjoyed all year round and especially eaten on the Georgian holiday Barbaroba, or St. Barbara’s Day (December 17) and during the fast.
Cooking cabbage, Gurian style - A simple video tutorial
Youtube channel Home Cookery has released a video about how to cook cabbage the way it's done in Georgia. The short video introduces viewers to a Gurian recipe
750ml
Kvevri
Zangaura  / 2015
19.90
750ml
Red Semi-Sweet
Schuchmann Wines  / 2015
23.95
750ml
White Dry
None  / 2016
18.30
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Other Stories
‘Wine Tea’ project is the winner of Startup Georgia state program.
Esquire, a well-known American magazine, has named Georgian Tavkveri among the best natural wines in the world.
Cuisine is an important part of Georgia’s culture and we gladly share it with foreign guests and tourists.
Typically, Georgia has always been home to dry wines and this tradition maintained to his day.
Georgian cuisine is spreading all across the world and captivating food enthusiast with is distinctive flavor.
If you want to combine wine with pastry, you have to know that this is a quite complicated process because dishes that contain dough are not all identical.
Three friends from Tbilisi have opened the first Georgian bar-restaurant in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Georgian khachapuri can be considered a real competitor to Italian pizza and here is why.
Georgian cuisine is often hailed by food writers as one of the most appealing in the world,
Once you have a chance to travel to Milan, Italy, don’t forget to check out a cute Italian restaurant with Georgian twist run by Georgian Chef Lali Tedeeva and her Italian husband