tkemali sauce recipe

Tkemali Sauce – Recipe for Georgian Sour Plum Chutney

Most of our fruits come in gluts.  Plums are no exception.  And while I’m a sucker for a plum crumble and the occasional jar of plum jam, I prefer my food on the sour side.   When we travelled in Georgia (the country), we ate copious amounts of a sour plum relish.    This relish, or Tkemali sauce, is fabulous with meat kebabs, and it’s fabulous have with heavy dishes like macaroni cheese too.   I had to experiment with several different Tkemali sauce recipes to get it at just the right level of flavour and sour /sweetness that instantly take me back to Georgia.


Tkemali Sauce Ingredients

This recipe makes 300 ml of Tkemali sour plum relish

  • 500 grams of plums – You can use at any stage of ripeness, even not quite ripe.
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh (or bottled) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced.  Or you can use 1.5 teaspoons of pre-minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander (read about growing your own coriander here)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Additional Ingredients use to refine to your taste

  • ½ teaspoon sugar (if it is too tart)
  • Extra lemon juice (for more tartness)
  • Extra red wine vinegar for more tartness
  • Extra salt
Tkemali sauce recipe ingredients

Equipment you’ll need to make Tkemali

You’ll find details of this equipment in our kitchen essentials list here.

  • Chopping Board
  • Saucepan
  • Colander
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Measuring Jug
  • Jars to store your Tkemali in

Georgian Sour Plum Relish Method 

Wash your plums while you set a large pan to boil water.  You’ll need enough to cover the plums.  Put the plums in the pan of boiling water and boil for around 30 seconds.  This is simply to allow the skins of the plums to flake off, you’re not cooking the plugs at this point.

Drain the plums in a colander and rinse in cold water. 

Leaving the plums in the colander peel the skins off and remove the stones.  Put the flesh of the plums back in your pan. 

removing skins from plums

In the pan with your plums add the

  • Ground coriander powder
  • Dried cumin powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 230ml of water.

Simmer for about 5 minutes until the plums are really soft and break up easily. 

Remove from the heat and using a hand blender blend until smooth.

Add the chopped dill and chopped coriander

Stir and taste, adding additional requirements to your taste.  Tkemali is not called “sour “ plum sauce for no reason! 

Once you have the sour plum sauce to your taste return to the heat and simmer slowly – without the saucepan lid on – until the sauce has thickened. 

Simmering to the correct consistency takes around one hour and 15 minutes for this amount of sauce, it may take longer for large quantities.  Watch the sauce thicken quite quickly towards the end, so you need to watch it certainly at the end of the process.

You’ll want to simmer the sauce rather than boiling it as this will maintain the flavour of the ingredients.  Boiling your sauce will reduce the liquid quantity quickly, but it will also change the flavour. 

You’ll want your Tkemali sour plum sauce to be not quite the consistency of tomato ketchup, a little runnier.  Tkemali should pour out of a bottle or jar. 

bottling tkemali sauce

Serve sour plum sauce at room temperature.

If you are storing for later use, make sure you have sterilized your jars or bottles and that they are hot when you pour the Tkemali into them.  (read more about jars and bottles in our guide to jam and chutney making kit here).

What to eat Tkemali Sauce with

Enjoy sour plum sauce with grilled meats and barbecues. Tkemali is eaten in Georgia as a substitute for ketchup. We enjoy it with lamb kebabs, macaroni cheese, and barbecued meat.

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