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Tkemali – Georgian Plum Sauce

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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 Georgian Plum Sauce on the Table Zoomed In Shot of All the Recipe Ingredients

 

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 Georgian Plum Sauce on the Blue Fabrics and Wooden Table

 

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 Georgian Plum Sauce - Served Sauce witha Spoon Inside Ready for the Meal

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 Georgian Plum Sauce - Lot of Plums Collected into a Pan Closeup

 

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 Georgian Plum Sauce - Closeup on Pomegranates, Garlic, Parsley and Dill with a Blue Blackground

 

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 Georgian Plum Sauce - Focus on Red Chili Peppers and Spices on the Dark Surface

 

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 Georgian Plum Sauce - Beautiful and Juicy Pomegranate with Pomegranate Seeds on the Dark Surface

 

If you are interested in canning but don’t really know how to start, let me introduce you to the expert canner, Jenny Gomes from The Domestic Wildflower. 

She covers everything you need to know about canning in her canning course for beginners. In the course you will have step by step video lessons, clear instructions, and foolproof recipes.

Take advantage of her wisdom and reap the health benefits of canning, save time and money by skipping the frustration and go straight to the expert source. 

The best thing about this course: it’s FREE!  

Check the recipe (and the recipe video) below and enjoy your homemade tkemali with your favorite dishes. If you can’t see the video, disable your AdBlock for this page by clicking on the AdBlock button and selecting Don’t run on this page.

 

Tkemali Georgian Plum Sauce on the Table with All the Recipe Ingredients on the Dark Table

 

 

Tkemali Georgian Plum Sauce on the Blue Fabrics and Wooden Table
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4.5 from 10 votes

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 29kcal

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!

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

Serving: 20g | Calories: 29kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Sodium: 233mg | Potassium: 103mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 220IU | Vitamin C: 8.4mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Follow @happykitchen.rocks on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #happykitchenrocks!

 

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.
 

Tkemali Georgian Plum Sauce - Focus on Red Chili Peppers and Spices on the Dark Surface
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4.58 from 7 votes

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

  • Combine all the ingredients.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 5g | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?Follow @happykitchen.rocks on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #happykitchenrocks!

 

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

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Helena

Monday 3rd of June 2019

My favorite part of the Georgian cuisine is a hot khachapuri with plenty of tkemali - nothing can ever beat this combo! 👍

Elena Szeliga

Tuesday 4th of June 2019

Oh yes, love it with chachapuri, too! This sauce is good for so many things!

John Shaver

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

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

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

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!

Sherrie

Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Love Khmeli Suneli! I get mine at www.worldspice.com - they grind it to order, too, so it's always fresh. Love using it in soups or on chicken. Will definitely have to make this! I can see a lot of uses for it. Thanks!

Elena Szeliga

Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Thank you, Sherrie! If you like khmeli suneli, I'm sure you would enjoy tkemali as well ;)

Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

Friday 6th of November 2015

I absolutely love tkemali, but I actually never thought about the ingredients that go into it, or making it my own... What a lovely find! And I can see myself using khmeli suneli in many different recipes, it really is such a diverse spice mix.

Elena Szeliga

Friday 6th of November 2015

One of my favorite condiments! I used to buy khmeli suneli in Russia but one day I ran out of it and made it myself. I put it almost in every dish since then :)

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About Elena Szeliga

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Elena Szeliga is the founder of Happy Kitchen.Rocks, where she shares delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan food, from weeknight dinners to veganized classics and gourmet appetizers. Her recipes have been featured at Better Homes & Gardens, BuzzFeed, Country Living, The Kitchn and Reader’s Digest. Her mission is to help cook easy vegetarian and vegan meals with simple and fresh ingredients. Read more about Elena.

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