Tkemali – Georgian Plum Sauce

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

 

Tkemali is so delicious and so little-known to the world outside of the former Soviet Union, that I feel like I need to share a recipe of this awesome Georgian plum sauce on my blog.

Tkemali is a perfect condiment for almost anything. It is perfect with roasted vegetables, (red) beets, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread… It’s almost as universal as ketchup. Tkemali is exceptionally good with grilled food.

Georgian word “tkemali” stands for a variety of sour plum, which is the main ingredient of this sauce. The sauce owes its name to this plum, which is nearly impossible to find outside Georgia. However, other types of plums can be used as well.

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!.

 

There are two varieties of Georgian tkemali: the green one, made of sour unripe plums and the red one, made of ripe plums. That’s exactly the type we will be making today.

You can find an interesting recipe for the green tkemali (as well as many other delicious recipes) in The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia, which I recommend to everyone who is interested in Georgian food.

 

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

 

How to Make Tkemali

Tkemali is a nutrient-dense sauce that is a great healthier substitute for ketchup. Plums contain organic acids, pectin, vitamins C, E, B1, B2, P, minerals, tannins and carotene.

Tkemali improves digestion and works as a metabolism booster, just like North African Harissa sauce, mojo verde, chimichurri or roasted garlic dressing.

It’s a perfect time to make the red tkemali, as the season for plums is right now.

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

 

I haven’t missed this chance and made a big batch, like I do every year.

From 1 kilogram of plums (2.2 lbs) you will get around 650 ml (0.7 liquid quart) of sauce. You can store it in the fridge or in a cool place for months. The natural preservative used here is peppermint and coriander.

Traditionally, herbs like dill, cilantro, summer savory and pennyroyal are used for tkemali but you are free to experiment with whatever herbs you like. I used fresh dill, cilantro, peppermint and dried tarragon, as well as dried coriander and khmeli suneli mix. You can skip it, as it is not traditionally used, but I found that tkemali tastes better if you do use it.

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

 

Depending on the type of plums you use, you would need to adjust the taste by adding more sugar if the sauce tastes too sour. If you use common plums or red plums that are sweet enough, you won’t need to add extra sugar.

Other ingredients include garlic, herbs and Georgian spices. Good news is: you can make tkemali at home from scratch from any plums that you have on hand!

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

 

To make tkemali last longer, you should sterilize your jars (boil them for 15 minutes in water) and pour some olive oil on the surface before you seal them.

Make sure the jars are hot and dry when you pour the hot sauce in.

A jar of tkemali (or khmeli suneli) is a perfect gift for a person who likes homemade preserved food and is eager to try new flavors. Tkemali is pungent, sweet-sour, aromatic and very flavorful. It’s truly one of a kind.

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

 

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Check the recipe below and enjoy your homemade tkemali with your favorite dishes:

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

Tkemali is a Georgian plum sauce, perfect for vegetables, grilled meat, fish, seafood and salad dressings. It's pungent, sweet-sour, aromatic and flavorful.
4 from 3 votes
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Tkemali – Georgian Plum Sauce Recipe

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

Course Condiment
Cuisine Georgian
Keyword tkemali
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 20
Calories 29 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 glass jars 220 ml or 8 oz, sterilized
  • 1 kg or 2.2 lbs ripe red plums
  • 100 ml or 1/2 cup water
  • 4-5 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small red chili pepper finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or 5 teaspoons dry)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 3 teaspoons dry)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh peppermint (or 2/3 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons khmeli suneli (see the recipe below)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cut plums in quarters, remove stones and place in a pot with a little water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. When plums are soft, drain them using a sieve and keep the juice (it's delicious and healthy). Using a wooden spoon, rub plums through the sieve and tranfer them back into the pot. Add garlic, chili pepper, cilantro, dill, peppermint, dried tarragon, ground coriander, khmeli suneli, salt, sugar, black pepper and pomegranate juice. Stir to combine. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

  3. Pour the sauce into hot and dry jars. Cover with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to preserve. Seal and store in the fridge or in a cool place for at least 2-3 months. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

From 1 kilogram of plums (2.2 lbs) you will get around 650 ml (0.7 liquid quart) of sauce.

Traditionally, herbs like dill, cilantro, summer savory and pennyroyal are used for tkemali but you are free to experiment with whatever herbs you like. I used fresh dill, cilantro, peppermint and dried tarragon, as well as dried coriander and khmeli suneli mix. You can skip it, as it is not traditionally used, but I found that tkemali tastes better if you do use it.

To make tkemali last longer, you should sterilize your jars (boil them for 15 minutes in water) and pour some olive oil on the surface before you seal them.

Make sure the jars are hot and dry when you pour the hot sauce in.

Serve tkemali with with roasted vegetables, (red) beets, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein and grilled food, in salad dressings, as a bread spread... You can replace ketchup with it.

Nutrition Facts
Tkemali – Georgian Plum Sauce Recipe
Amount Per Serving (20 g)
Calories 29
% Daily Value*
Sodium 233mg 10%
Potassium 103mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 7g 2%
Sugars 5g
Vitamin A 4.4%
Vitamin C 10.2%
Calcium 0.8%
Iron 1.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

How to Make Khmeli Suneli

Khmeli suneli is a Georgian seasoning mix, spicy, aromatic and nutty. Its aroma and taste make it suitable for almost any dish: sauces, salads, soups, stews, savory pastry, rice, any kind of protein, as well as pickled vegetable, marinades and Georgian appetizers.

Khmeli suneli a mixture of ground fenugreek seeds, coriander, dill, celery, parsley, basil, savory and black peppercorns. Remember my Georgian eggplant rolls with walnuts? It’s used there, too.

Khmeli suneli is not hot but spicy, aromatic, nutty and very fragrant. Its color is greenish-yellow, and the aroma and taste make it suitable for almost any dish: sauces, salads, soups, stews, savory pastry, rice, beans, as well as pickled vegetable, marinades and Georgian appetizers.

It can be your new taco seasoning, garam masala, za’atar or Ras el Hanout because you might have a temptation to put it in every dish you cook. For the simplified version of khmeli suneli spice mix you will need: fenugreek, thyme, coriander, basil, dill, bay leaf, dried celery, peppermint, majoran, parsley, savory (can be substituted for oregano), red chili pepper and saffron.

All of these herbs not only give their flavor and taste, but also make this seasoning a very good body remedy. It also plays a role in traditional Georgian medicine.

It’s believed that the substances contained inside the herbs can remove physical fatigue, improve mood and muscle tone, protect against viruses and infections, strengthen the immune system and help maintain good physical shape, when used in reasonable quantities.

All herbs and spices are taken in equal shares. Chili pepper makes up to 2% and saffron around 0.1% (if you intend to use cheap saffron, please don’t, as it will only give color, not taste).

Khmeli suneli is actually a made-up spice mix created in Soviet Union. As all other Soviet products, the recipe was standadized. So the “original” recipe contained equal amounts of all the spices and herbs plus 0.1% saffron as it was (and is!) very expensive. Adding more saffron would enhance the taste but increase the price. I use 3 threads in my recipe although in the „original” khmeli suneli only ½ thread would be used.

Check the recipe below for the precise volumes. In the end you will have around 60 grams or 1/4 cup of khmeli suneli.

Store it in a glass jar covered with a lid.

 

5 from 2 votes
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Khmeli Suneli Seasoning Recipe

Khmeli suneli is a Georgian seasoning mix, spicy, aromatic and nutty. Its aroma and taste make it suitable for almost any dish: sauces, salads, soups, stews, savory pastry, rice, any kind of protein, as well as pickled vegetable, marinades and Georgian appetizers.

Course Sauce, Seasoning mix
Cuisine Georgian
Keyword khmeli suneli
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 60 grams or 1/4 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1 teaspoon dry dill
  • 1 teaspoon ground bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dry celery
  • 1 teaspoon dry peppermint
  • 1 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 pinch red chili pepper
  • 3 threads dark red saffron ground

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients.
  2. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
Khmeli Suneli Seasoning Recipe
Amount Per Serving (5 g)
Calories 0
Vitamin C 0.1%
Calcium 0.2%
Iron 0.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!
Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!
Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!
Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!
Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!
Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

What are the condiments that you often use? Do you have any “little-known” recipes on hand?

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more!

Greetings,

Elena

Tkemali is a very flavorful and nutrient-dense Georgian plum sauce that is a great healthier alternative to ketchup or cranberry sauce. Use this sweet-sour vibrant condiment for almost about everything: grilled food, roasted veggies, burgers, potato wedges, any kind of protein, in salad dressings, as a bread spread and so much more! #condiments #sauce #plums #recipe

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6 Comments

  • John Shaver

    I see you add two more teaspoons of coriander in addition to what is already in the Suneli spice mix. Do you mean more ground coriander seeds or fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for the Tkemali sauce?

    Thank you!! Spice mix sounds great. Really only one half thread of saffron!?

    Can’t wait to make this :))

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi John, it’s funny but I just reshot this recipe a few days ago and filmed a video, so I will be updating it real soon 🙂 Hope I can make it more useful and provide more details on how to make tkemali. So I’m really glad you posted this comment today because now I know what to improve.

      To start with, I used both fresh cilantro AND extra coriander seeds, however I found that 5 tbsp fresh cilantro is too much. It’s a matter of personal taste though. If you love cilantro, go for 5 tbsp but if you don’t, 2 or 3 tbsp would be enough.

      In addition to khmeli suneli, I added some more coriander to tkemali simply because I like it. Again, if you are not a big fan of coriander, just skip it and use khmeli suneli alone.

      And now a funny thing about saffron 🙂 Khmeli suneli is actually a made up spice mix created in Soviet Union. As all other Soviet products, the recipe was standartised. So the “original” recipe contained equal amounts of all the spices and herbs plus 0.1% saffron as it was (and is!) very expensive. Adding more saffron would enhance the taste but increase the price. However, I will upgrade the khmeli suneli recipe as well and definitely increase the amount of saffron to at least 3 threads.

      I hope this was useful for you 🙂 Please let me know how you like the recipe. I would appreciate your feedback. Again, thanks for your thoughtful questions!

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