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Tkemali: Georgian Plum Sauce

If you've ever had Georgian food, you know that it's all about the sauces. And one of the most popular and beloved sauces in Georgia is Tkemali, a tangy and sweet plum sauce that's used in everything from grilled meats to soups and stews.

What is Tkemali?

Tkemali is a traditional Georgian sauce made from sour plums, garlic, and a variety of herbs and spices. The sauce is known for its tangy and slightly sour taste, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to rich and savory dishes.

The History of Tkemali

Tkemali has a long and rich history in Georgia, dating back hundreds of years. The sauce was originally made by the people of the mountainous regions of Georgia, who would use it to preserve their summer harvest of plums. Over time, the sauce became a staple in Georgian cuisine, and today it's one of the most popular and beloved sauces in the country.

In fact, Tkemali is so popular in Georgia that it has its own holiday. Every year on the first Sunday of September, the town of Tkibuli hosts the Tkemali Festival, a celebration of all things plum and Tkemali.

The Ingredients of Tkemali

The key ingredient in Tkemali is sour plums, which give the sauce its distinctive tangy flavor. Other ingredients include garlic, coriander, dill, and salt. Some recipes also call for the addition of chili peppers or other spices to give the sauce a little extra kick.

The type of sour plum used in Tkemali can vary depending on the region of Georgia and the personal preference of the cook. Some popular varieties include Kakhuri, which are small and tart, and Aladasturi, which are larger and sweeter.

How to Make Tkemali

Making Tkemali is relatively easy, but it does require a bit of time and effort. Here's a simple recipe to get you started:


  • 2 pounds of sour plums
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  1. Rinse the plums and remove the pits.
  2. Place the plums in a large pot and add enough water to cover them.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the plums for about 30 minutes, or until they're soft and tender.
  4. Remove the plums from the pot and let them cool.
  5. Once the plums are cool, mash them with a fork or potato masher until they're a smooth pulp.
  6. Return the plum pulp to the pot and add the garlic, coriander, dill, and salt.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, or until it's thick and has a jam-like consistency.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat and let the sauce cool.
  9. Once the sauce is cool, transfer it to a jar or other container and store it in the refrigerator.

How to Use Tkemali

Tkemali is a versatile sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Serve Tkemali as a dipping sauce for grilled meats, such as lamb, beef, or chicken.
  • Use Tkemali as a marinade for grilled meats or vegetables.
  • Add Tkemali to soups and stews to give them a tangy and slightly sour flavor.
  • Use Tkemali as a condiment for sandwiches or burgers.
  • Add Tkemali to rice dishes or pilafs for a little extra flavor.

Where to Find Tkemali

If you're lucky enough to live near a Georgian restaurant or specialty food store, you may be able to find Tkemali ready-made. However, if you can't find Tkemali in stores, don't worry – it's easy to make at home using fresh or frozen sour plums.

Health Benefits of Tkemali

Not only is Tkemali delicious, but it's also good for you! Sour plums are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Garlic, another key ingredient in Tkemali, has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering cholesterol levels.

Tkemali Variations

While the classic version of Tkemali is made with sour plums, there are many variations of the sauce that use different fruits and vegetables. For example, some cooks use green tomatoes or unripe apples instead of plums, while others add beets or carrots to give the sauce a sweeter flavor.


Tkemali is a delicious and versatile sauce that's a staple in Georgian cuisine. Whether you're using it as a marinade, dipping sauce, or condiment, Tkemali is sure to add a tangy and slightly sour flavor to your favorite dishes. So why not give it a try and see for yourself why this sauce is so beloved in Georgia and beyond?




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