Some similar dumplings, like Turkish and Armenian manti, are linked to khinkali, according to food writers Aylin Tan from Turkey and Fuscia Dunlop, an English specialist of Chinese cuisine. The two have completed one of the few pieces of rigorous scholarship on dumpling history, presenting a paper in 2012 that traced dumpling connections along the Silk Road between Chinese and Turkish varieties.

Rachel Laudan, a US historian who wrote Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History, has a particular interest in dumplings, having mapped their reach to across Asia and Europe. While khinikali would require more study, it’s “extremely credible” that they first arrived with the Mongols, Laudan said. “It’s much more plausible that this is a kind of ghostly remnant of something that happened 700 years ago than that –  ‘Oh boy!’ – they just invented this independently’.”

Chinese doctor Zhang Zhongjing who lived in the second 2nd Century AD is often given credit for the first dumping, named jiaozi, more than 5,000km to the east of Georgia, in south-western China. Effectively, if you look at a map of which countries have traditionally eaten dumplings, they are within the borders (roughly) of the historical Mongol Empire, which transmitted this culinary staple through conquest, said Laudan.

“The Mongols were incredibly smart about creating their imperial cuisine,” said Laudan. Historians have translated a cookbook from 1330, found in the Mongol court in China, named the Proper and Essential Things for the Emperor’s Food and Drink, which shows how the recipes were adapted to pay respect to local peoples. One noodle dish is customised with yoghurt garlic sauce for Turkish audiences but has ginger, orange peel and soy sauce added in China, she explained.

“This a very deliberate example of what is now called ‘appropriation’, of the history of cuisines of the regions, to create a new hybrid imperial cuisine.”