Georgian Khachapuri is made with everything from cornmeal to flaky sheets as thin as phyllo, but most styles begin with yeasted, white wheat flour dough, though they are often mixed to different consistencies.
Khachapuri dough is a very simple yeasted dough that is light, fluffy and moist and very easy to make. You don’t need any special equipment to make it (just your own two hands!) and it’s a really good introduction to yeasted doughs if you’ve never made anything like it before.
Once you’ve mastered your imeruli technique, you’ll be ready to tackle its many flatbread cousins. To make a Megruli-style khachapuri, start with an Imeruli, then smother the top in crumbled imeruli and sulguni in the last few minutes of baking. For a take on lobiani, skip the cheese inside and stuff the Imeruli dough with this smoky spiced bean filling, or opt for a lamb-and-onion stuffing to make Svaneti-style kubdari.
Since imeruli uses a dry dough, it tends to develop a skin, so be sure to keep the pieces you’re not working with covered with a loose sheet of plastic film or a clean, damp towel. Once the dough has fermented, it will be quite cohesive, so flour your surface and rolling pin sparingly; too much flour and the dough won’t stick to itself to seal in the filling. While Imeruli khachapuri can be baked in an oven, it is just as easily cooked on the range, using an unoiled flat griddle or heavy skillet.
The two cheeses most commonly used in khachapuri are imeruli and sulguni. Imeruli is a fresh, crumbly, mountain cheese from the Imereti region. It is made with a mixture of cow’s milk and the whey leftover from making firmer cheeses. Sulguni, from the coastal Samegrelo region, has a firmer and more elastic consistency and a briny tart flavor. When combined and melted, they become a filling that is creamy and stretchy, with a feta-like funk.
Georgia is not licensed to export its dairy products to the U.S. or the EU, and Georgian-style cheeses can be tough to find. American-made imeruli and sulguni are occasionally available at Russian and Ukrainian markets, or online, or you can try your hand at making your own.