What Is Shoti?

Mark Wollacott

The shoti is a type of flat bread from the country of Georgia. It is one of many types of Georgian bread and typically made from white or whole-wheat flour. Shoti is distinctive because of its canoe or boat shape that makes it look like something between an Indian roti and naan. Due to its nature and name, it is probably of Indian origin or influence. In English, it is also called rowboat bread and can be found in Georgian bakeries and restaurants across the world.

Shoti is typically made from white or whole wheat flour.
Shoti is typically made from white or whole wheat flour.

As well as either containing whole wheat or white flour, the shoti are made from only a few ingredients: active dry yeast, room temperature water and salt. The yeast is dissolved in the water, then flour is added slowly to form dough. The baker then divides the dough into lumps and takes each end of the dough lump and stretches it until it is boat-shaped. The number of shoti that can be made from the dough depends on how much is made and how big the shoti are.

Shoti is often served with a fresh salad.
Shoti is often served with a fresh salad.

Traditional Georgian shoti are baked in a toné. A toné is the Georgian version of a tandoor or clay oven. The clay oven is made from air-dried clay and is round or beehive-shaped. Placed in the center of a room or bakery, the toné is lit early in the morning and heated up using either a wood or coal fire at its base. Like tandoors, the toné is capped with a wooden lid when bread is baking.

When cooked in a toné, shoti take up to 10 minutes to make. They should be crisp at the edges with a soft texture in the middle. In the absence of a toné or tandoor, shoti can be pan-fried in much the same way as roti or oven-cooked, though the amount of time and quality of the bread may vary from appliance to appliance.

Shoti form a core element of Georgian cuisine and are often eaten hot and fresh or with a salad. Georgian salads that are eaten with the bread include the lobios, or bean, salad, the katmis, or chicken, salad and the tevzis, or salmon, salad. They can also be eaten with Western salads made with spinach or eggplant.

Small variations in the recipe can create a number of other Georgian breads such as adding cheese to make kachapuri or adding beans to make lobiani. If sugar and spices are added to the basic shoti mixture, then it makes a spicy bread called nazuki. Other Georgian breads include tonis puri, mexumi puri and cadi.

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