Khmeli suneli is a Georgian seasoning mix, spicy, aromatic and nutty. Its aroma and taste makes it suitable for almost any dish: sauces, salads, soups, stews, savory pastry, rice, meat and vegetable dishes, as well as pickled vegetable, marinades and Georgian appetizers.
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 with you today. It’s a perfect condiment for almost anything. Roasted vegetables, beets, any kind of meat, fish, seafood, salad dressings, bread spreads… It’s almost as universal as ketchup. Tkemali is exceptionally good with grilled meat. Actually in the first place tkemali is a variety of sour plum, which is the main ingredient of this sauce. It owes its name to this plum, which is impossible to find outside Georgia. Other ingredients are garlic, herbs and Georgian spices, which are also hard to find. Good news is: you can make tkemali at home by yourself from any sour plums.
How to Make Khmeli Suneli
The same counts for Georgian seasoning mix khmeli suneli: it’s 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. So I decided to provide proportions for this seasoning mix, so that you can use it in other recipes, too.
It’s not hot but spicy, aromatic and nutty, its color is greenish-yellow, and the aroma and taste makes it suitable for almost any dish: sauces, salads, soups, stews, savory pastry, rice, meat and vegetable dishes, 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, celery, peppermint, parsley, oregano, red chili pepper and saffron.
All herbs are taken in equal shares, chili pepper 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). Check the recipe below for the precise volumes. In the end you will have around 60 grams or 1/4 cup of khmeli suneli.
Khmeli Suneli Seasoning Recipe
- 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
- 1/2 thread dark red saffron, ground
- Combine all the ingredients.
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 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.
How to Make Tkemali
As for tkemali itself, it’s also very healthy, as the main ingredient (plum) contains 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. There are two varieties of Georgian tkemali: the green one, made of sour unripe plums (you can find an interesting recipe 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) and the red one, made of ripe plums.
It’s a perfect time to make the red one, as it’s the season for plums right now. 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.
To make it 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. 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 flavorful. It’s truly one of a kind.
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Tkemali – Georgian Plum Sauce Recipe
- 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
- 3-4 large cloves garlic
- 1 small red chili pepper
- 5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or 5 teaspoons dry)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 3 teaspoons dry)
- 1 tablespoon tarragon
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh peppermint (or 2/3 teaspoon dry)
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 2 teaspoons khmeli suneli (see the recipe above))
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2/3 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
- olive oil
- Cut plums in quarters, remove stones and place in a pot with a little water, about 100 ml or 1/2 cup. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Finely chop garlic and red chili pepper.
- When plums are soft, drain them using a sieve and keep the juice (it's delicious and healthy). With a spoon or spatula rub plums through the sieve in the same pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well together. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Let cool and transfer to jars. Cover with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to preserve. Seal and store in the fridge or in a cool place for 2-3 months. Enjoy!
What are the condiments that you often use? Do you have any “little-known” recipes on hand?