A Georgian Jewish Culinary Detour

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The origin of the Georgian Jews is hidden in legend and antiquity. They might have arrived escaping the Babylonia exile, or perhaps Alexander's invasions or the Roman's. Perhaps all three. Whatever the case, there was a thriving Jewish community in Georgia by the medieval period, acculturated and Georgian speaking. It's said that until quite recently, Georgia was the one place where the Jews did not experience antisemitism. That changed under the Soviet Union and most Georgian Jews left the country for Israel, America and even Belgium.

Georgian Jews shared a culinary tradition with Georgian Christians, and I'm not sure that they had Jewish dishes per se, though Marks includes several recipes in his cookbooks.

For my quick sojourn into Georgian Jewish cuisine, this is the recipe I made:

Katami Chahohbili

Chicken with Onions and Tomatoes

Chicken with Onions and Tomatoes

Chahohbili is Georgia's most famous stew, eaten by Jews and non-Jews alike. It's very simple and very satisfying. There are several methods of cooking it, and the herbs you use can vary. The recipe below actually said to put the chicken in a dry pan - I didn't, because I didn't trust it not to stick. Beyond that, I didn't change it much, only that I did add basil in addition to cilantro and I salted the chicken before I cooked it.

The chicken was very tasty and comforting, as chicken stew often is, and I enjoyed the leftovers very much.


Chicken with Onions and Tomatoes


  • 3.5 lbs chicken parts
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil or rendered chicken fat
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 lb potatoes, cubed
  • 2 lbs tomatoes, chopped or 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Lightly season chicken parts with salt and pepper.

Heat oil or rendered fat over high heat in a large saute pan. Add the chicken parts skin side down and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Turn chicken, add half of the remaining water, cook 3 minutes and add the rest of the water and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chopped onions and cubed potatoes. Cover, bring heat to low and let simmer.

Meanwhile, heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, basil, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well, cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce to the chicken, stir well, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, around 20 minutes.

Adapted from a recipe in Copeland Mark's Sephardic Cooking: 600 Recipes Created In Exotic Sephardic Kitchens From Morocco To India

Other Jewish cuisines: Afghani Jewish, American Jewish, Baghdadi Jewish, Bene Israel, Calcuttan Jewish, Cochin Jewish, Egyptian Jewish, Greek Jewish , Israeli

Other Caucasian cuisines: Adjarian, Armenian, Azeri, Balkar, Chechen, Georgian, Kabardian

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