The first time I was served khinkali was at a Georgian friend’s home in Virginia. I was not allowed in the kitchen until all the preparations were complete and the khinkali was ready to be dropped in a pot of salted boiling water. As anxious as I was to see how khinkali is made, I took my friend’s advice and sat at the table patiently waiting for the first large platter of steaming khinkali to be served. The aroma filled the room and I took my fork to poke the meet dumpling and saw my friend’s Tami face and realized I committed a faux pas. Khinkali is the ultimate finger food.
Khinkali is a meat dumpling filled with pork and beef along with Georgian spices ( I still haven’t been successful in identifying the spices) quickly boiled so the meat juices and spices inside the flour dumpling have nowhere to go but in your mouth and on hands. As I found out, proper khinkali table manners is to pick up the dumpling by the “knot” on the top and take the first juicy bite. It’s quite acceptable for the juices to run down your hands. My friend told me that legend has it that when the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev first ate khinkali and was asked not to eat the “knot” his reply was a along the lines “cut back on the flour we send to the Georgians.” When my Georgian friends aren’t looking, I eat the knot. Khinkali is my comfort food!