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The Hirshon Georgian Red Tkemali Sauce – წითელი ტყემალი

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • 22 pounds / 10 kilos of red (ripe) Tkemali plums – you want sour plums for this recipe!
  • 1/4 cup / 50 grams of Fennel Stalks
  • 4 tsp. / 20 grams of fresh Lesser Calamint, Calamintha nepeta (also known as Nepitella) which tastes like the Pennyroyal from the original recipe.
  • 1 cup / 200 grams of green flowering coriander
  • 2 1/4 pounds / 1 kilo of garlic,
  • 1 cup / 200 grams of salt,
  • 1/2 cup / 100 grams of dried coriander (it helps to preserve the sauce if you intend to store it for a long period) or 1/2 cup / 100 grams of fresh green coriander leaves,
  • 1/4 cup / 50 grams of dried hot red pepper
  • If the plums are especially sour, up to 1/2 cup / 100 grams of sugar can be added.
  • Add 2 teaspoons khmeli – suneli herb mix. Use the following dried herbs to make the khmeli – suneli mixture (save the extra for another use):
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground basil
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground parsley
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground dill
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground mint
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground summer savory
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground wild blue fenugreek (strongly preferred) or just use regular fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground basil
  • 2 strands of saffron
  • 1/8 tsp hot chili pepper flakes


  1. Preparation: Wash the plums and add to a deep pot. Add slightly less than 3
  2. ¼ quarts / 3 liters of water. Heat on high temperature until the plums are boiled and then reduce the temperature to simmer the plums. Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the plums are soft.
  3. Remove the plums from the pot and add to a bowl. Do not discard the plum water left in the pot.
  4. Transfer the plum water from the pot to a bowl.
  5. Place a sieve over a deep pot and add some of the plums. Firmly press the plums with a wooden spoon.
  6. Gradually add some of the plum water that was saved after boiling the plums and use a gloved hand to squash all of the pulp and juice through the sieve. Discard the plum stones once all of the pulp and juice has been strained into the pot. Add more of the plum water until the consistency is smooth. You may still have some of the plum water left.
  7. Remove the skins from the garlic and grind with a meat grinder. The garlic needs to be finely ground.
  8. Wash the Lesser Calamint and remove the flowers and tiny leaves with your fingers. Crush the flowers and leaves. Do not discard the stalks.
  9. Add the crushed Calamint flowers and leaves, together with the 100 grams of dried coriander or 100 grams of fresh green coriander leaves, ground garlic and 200 grams of salt to a mixing bowl. Add to the pot containing the sieved plums and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  10. Tightly bind together the individual bundles of green flowering coriander, fennel and Calamint stalks with cotton.
  11. Add the bundled green flowering coriander, fennel and Calamint stalks, together with 50 grams of dried hot red pepper to the pot containing the sieved plums. Add the khmeli – suneli.
  12. Push the bundle below the surface of the liquid. Heat on a very low heat for 40 minutes.
  13. If you intend to use the tkemali over a short period, allow it to cool down before bottling. Store in the refrigerator. To keep tkemali for long periods without refrigeration, prepare the bottles by washing thoroughly and leaving until they are completely dry. Half fill a tall pot with water. Add the bottles. Heat on a low to medium temperature for 15 minutes. Place the plastic caps that will be used to seal the bottles in boiling water.
  14. Fill each bottle to the top with hot tkemali sauce and seal immediately with one of the plastic caps that has been boiled and dried. This bottling method allows the tkemali to be stored for long periods in a cool, dark place without the need for refrigeration.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours

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