Citizens! The medication protocol I have developed for treating My melancholia seems particularly efficacious – I’m feeling like My old self again and feeling the need to commit yet another recipe of magnificence into the codex of Destiny! As long-time members of TFD Nation know, I am a HUGE proponent of all things related to Georgian cuisine: not the state, but the ancient country located in the Caucasus mountains and My culinary homeland! Today, we shall return to it united in purpose!
Georgian condiments in particular appeal to every aspect of My senses and singular love for flavor complexity! One of My first recipes was for Georgian adjika, a delicious condiment redolent with herbs and rare spices and made differently in different regions of Georgia. Ajika or adjika (Abkhazian: аџьыка, Georgian: აჯიკა) is a Georgian-Abkhazian hot, spicy, but subtly flavored dip often used to flavor meats and other foods throughout the region.
The first version of this recipe that I posted all the way back in 2015 was for the common red variety of adjika, but today I am honored to share the green version of adjika with you! The green version being more spicy, herbaceous and salty than the red variety, it is more akin to chimichurri sauce than pesto but it definitely shares aspects of both condiments and packs its own unique flavor profile as well. Like pesto, it has oil, herbs and nuts and also like chimichurri, it contains vinegar.
The name for adjika derives from the Abkhaz word аџьыка ‘salt’. The Abkhazian variant of adjika is based on a preparation of hot red peppers, garlic, herbs, and spices such as coriander, dill, blue fenugreek (only found in mountain regions such as the Alps or the Caucasus), salt, and walnut. A dry form of adjika also exists that looks like small red clumps mixed with a looser version of the spice mixture.
Home-made adjika is available from many market stalls in the Caucasus and in the Krasnodar Krai of Russia. Tomatoes are not an ingredient of traditional adjika, though different versions of adjika, sometimes having tomatoes or tomato paste as an ingredient, are produced on a commercial scale and sold in supermarkets in Russia and Ukraine. Adjika typically resemble Italian red pesto in appearance and consistency. Though it is usually red, green adjika is also made with unripe peppers.
It’s been speculated that adjika has been produced in one form or another in Georgia since the 15th century. There are conflicting stories as to the origins of adjika, which almost border on legend. Some sources claim it was developed as a salty and vinegary condiment, to preserve peppers for winter storage. Others claim it started as a seasoning of sorts; livestock owners, they said, would give their shepherds salt to feed sheep to make sure they got sufficient salt intake as they foraged.
This is still in practice today, since sheep will chew a wide array of unsavory and potentially unhealthy substances in their search for salt. To dissuade the shepherds from taking the salt for themselves, livestock owners began adding hot pepper to the salt. Unfortunately, at least according to legend, that backfired as shepherds embellished the peppery salt with other spices and herbs and created a regional specialty.
Territorial disputes are also a part of adjika’s history. The word, ajika, means ‘salt’ and is taken from the ancient language Abkhazian. Abkhazian is spoken in Abkhazia, an arm of land nestled between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, and the use of an Abkhazian word for this product strongly supports the idea that Adjika was originally developed in Abkhazia.
Abkhazia was considered a distinct region from other parts of the Caucasus until the Russian revolution of 1917 – after which the Bolshevik Duma created a unified Georgia with Abkhazia lumped into Georgia’s northwest corner. This was a tumultuous time – in 1921, Georgia’s constitution was rewritten to grant Abkhazia independence. By 1931, Joseph Stalin (who was Georgian) with a soft spot for his home country reabsorbed Abkhazia into the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Abkhazians consider Adjika to be one of their cultural landmarks. In 2018, The National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation, an office within the Georgian government that protects and administers to that country’s artistic, historical, and intangible heritage, declared adjika to be a product of ‘Intangible Georgian Heritage’. This is one step closer to getting it declared a UNESCO product of intangible heritage, which would cement Georgia’s claim to adjika on a global level.
My version of green adjika is closely based on the version made in the Georgian region of Megrelia – one of its most ancient regions in a country with a recorded history going back at least 10,000 years – and even FAR longer into the Paleolithic era as demonstrated by the fact that the world’s oldest woven fabric (34,000 YEARS OLD!) was found in the country!
As noted in this lightly-edited excerpt about the region from itinari.com:
Megrelians are one of the ethnic groups of Georgians. They were populated in the central part of historic Colchis. They speak in Georgian, but they also have their own Megrelian language that they use in their everyday life. Megrelian language also belongs to the Georgian language group.
It does not have its own alphabet, they use the Georgian one. The Megrelian language is one of the oldest in the world and it was the main language in ancient Colchis for the several centuries. So this unique language is very diverse and around 500 000 people speak on it today.
Our great writer Ilia Chavchavadze wrote: “ – I visited Samegrelo and saw Georgia…” Yes, this is Samegrelo, the part of ancient Colchis and one of the most beautiful parts of Georgia which we are proud of.
It should be noted that Megrelian cuisine is very tasty and distinctive. Generally, their dishes are spicy. The reason for it is the subtropical climate. Malaria disease was a huge risk for people living in the Samegrelo Region. However, the locals noticed that using a large amount of pepper could decrease the risk of development of this disease. As a result, the spices became the main attribute of Megrelian Cuisine.
There are more than 500 types of a vine and around 60 grows in Samegrelo Region. The most famous type of grape is Ojaleshi. From this grape, we make red semi-sweet wine that has a special red color and a slight aroma of the wild rose. This type of vine does not grow in the vineyard but on the branches of the tree. “Ojaleshi” is a Megrelian word and it is translated as “grown on the tree.”
In the 19th century French Ashil Miurat, who was the bridegroom of Ekaterine Chavchavadze, started to make Ojaleshi by the European method of wine-making. Currently, the production of this kind of wine is also spread in the different parts of Georgia.
To get a sense of the incredible Megrelian culture, traditional dress, vistas, history and song – you MUST watch this magnificent example of their polyphonic choir singing and regional dance!
Now – to the recipe-at-hand! This superb condiment is redolent with garlic, while the intense taste of the herbs, vinegar, salt and unique Georgian spices add a zing that you will truly enjoy with your meal! The walnuts mellow the flavor and add many antioxidants as well while the different chile peppers add a nuanced and complex heat to the final product. In many ways, it is VERY similar to the Ethiopian spiced green pepper paste known as koch-kocha – at least IMHO!
To make the green version of adjika (quite rare, even in Georgia, compared to the red!) you’re going to need both hot and mild green peppers – I strongly prefer the blend of jalapeños and fresh green Anaheim peppers, as I find green bell peppers to be both acidic and hard-to-digest. Feel free to substitute hotter or milder peppers and in different ratios as you see fit – this is simply My preferred version and your mileage may vary!
The use of dried, smoked hot peppers in adjika is quite classic in the red version and I do enjoy it in the green as well – this is My strongly-preferred version to use, though you can substitute Chipotle powder if you must. This paste is filled with many different herbs and spices, most of which are common and some of which are not – you can buy dried marigold petals (a traditional Georgian seasoning!), blue fenugreek powder, and fennel pollen at their respective links.
My Citizens, as we swing into the Summer grilling season together – try this green adjika with any form of meat you cook outdoors (or indoors, for that matter!). It will verily make your tastebuds sing and dance like a true Georgian მეომარი – a warrior of renown! Join Me as we continue our deep dive into the culinary repertoire of this most wondrous of countries that deserves to be FAR better known beyond the region of the Caucasus! Find ALL 34 (as of today!) of My Georgian recipes here.
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?