Red Tkemali (Plum) Sauce

By By Guest Chef: Harvey Pincis

 

Tkemali is the go-to sauce in Georgia, the country and as ubiquitous there as Tomato ketchup is in the USA. It also has masses of antioxidants, the good news is that while enzymes are lost in cooking (eat fresh plums and blackberries in the morning) cooking boosts antioxidants.

To make the sauce here (or for that matter anywhere outside of the Caucasus) tweaks have to be made. We do not grow plums here so unripe plums are impossible to find, the same goes for unripe grapes and blue fenugreek.

For this reason I have added lemon juice, the Green apple juice, redcurrants and pomegranate to give that sharp kick. The garlic, herbs and chilli give the sauce an interest that takes it into the savoury, rather than sweet sphere and pairs well with meat and poultry. In Georgia, they also make a blackberry sauce (Rachuli) that is along the same conceptual lines and is a must at celebrations where roast chicken is the centrepiece.

Of course, the herbs and spice quantities are a guide as different people have different tastes in these matters. I dare say, the quantities will vary in Georgian households too. One thing is for sure, the Georgians are in love with coriander!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo of red plums.
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons
  • 250 ml of Caesar Green Apple juice
  • Dash of pomegranate molasses
  • Punnet of Redcurrants
  • Pinch of Anis, or 1 star anise.
  • Fresh mint cut finely,
  • 100 grams of coriander cut finely,
  • 6 cloves of garlic crushed,
  • 50 grams of salt,
  • 50 grams of dried coriander 
  • 1 small hot red pepper or cayenne powder or paprika.

 

Method:

  • Soften the plums in a saucepan, with the apple juice, lemon juice, pomegranate and redcurrants. To be honest I frequently have raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in the fridge and if any need using up I add them rather than they turn, a problem more with soft fruit like raspberries. In any case I love the taste and cooked they keep. Hint; this is one reason for the mint, it prevents bacterial growth, and possibly has some properties similar to vine leaves that do a similar job when pickling and preserving.

 

  • Once softened, I take a stick blender to the fruit, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for an hour or more – low and slow is best. Cool and serve. It can also be served hot, though that is not traditional, however in the privacy of your own home you may do as you wish.

 

Either way, since I came back from Georgia I have made this as a weekly event and am much taken with it as a condiment of choice.

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