Best street food in Tbilisi: Shotis puri

December 04, 2019
Marina Nikiforova

Shotis puri – arguably the simplest food ever – after all, this is ‘just’ freshly baked bread. Except that it’s not. Believe us when we say that it’s totally impossible to resist this freshly baked, still-warm-from-the-oven, local bread. OK, so the ingredients are pretty basic – flour, water, salt and yeast. And it’s been baked the same way here for centuries, in a special oven called a tone. The most tempting, crunchy part of this bread is always salty, since the walls of the tone are sprinkled with salty water.

According to history, a sickle-shaped bread (shotis puri) was typical for the Kakheti wine making region. The shape of the loaf meant that it was convenient for the warriors to carry and while it didn’t stay hot for too long, the softness lasted for several days. These days, if you’re hungry and in a hurry, pick up a lobiani (typical for the Racha region) which is a more substantial version that’s filled with mashed beans.

OK – so while the team at Jvaris Mama Church Bakery totally appreciate the Street Food 50 nomination, Georgia is actually a pretty traditional place. Locals here are all about sitting together at the table, sharing a feast cooked by their mother, drinking wine and making toasts – not eating street food. But a Georgian table just isn’t complete without a loaf of tasty fresh bread. One family member will always be sent out to buy it – and that lucky person will always have to battle against the temptation to take a sneaky bite of freshly baked goodness on their way home. So while it might not be your average ‘street food’, there’s every chance you’ll see plenty of people eating it on the streets.

On New Year’s Eve, locals can easily spend an hour or more at the local bakery. After all, everyone will be out to buy a fresh loaf to go on their dining table. If you’re nominated as the lucky bread buyer, be sure to head out early to ensure you don’t miss out on the midnight celebrations.

Book a place on the Urban Adventures Tbilisi Traditions tour to learn the lingo that you’ll need to buy fresh bread here. Our local guide will teach you the simple Georgian words you’ll need – although unfortunately we can’t teach you to have the willpower to resist eating the bread before it arrives on the dinner table…

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