Where they're from: Georgia
The soup dumpling is a marvel of the modern universe, a plump kiss of dough filled with hot broth that magically spills out when punctured with a fork or a tooth. Shanghai-style soup dumplings, invented only a century ago, are currently getting all the press. But in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, khinkali are a much older soup dumpling. Likely derived from the momo dumplings of conquering Mongols, khinkali are bigger, thicker, and raw-meat brutal. They are also wonderful.
To make khinkali, thick dough is folded around minced, spiced raw beef, pork, or lamb. Broth or water is often sealed into the dumpling along with the raw meat juices, which cook inside the boiled dumpling like sous-vide hamburger. To keep the juices safe inside, the top seam of the dumpling is twisted into a thick, tough knob called a kudi, or “hat.”
It is rude to use a fork or spoon to eat khinkali. Instead, grab your dumpling by its top hat with your forefinger and thumb. Puncture it with your front teeth, then suck its juices dry. After, rip and chew into the meat and noodle itself. Finally, discard the little dough-knob on your plate as a trophy of your kill.