Georgian cuisine (Georgia as a country) took a great part in my family menu. When I was living in Moscow at least ones a year during the summer we had a Georgian feast. We marinated meat for kabobs, made lobio (type of a bean salad), bought Georgian rich wine, suluguni cheese (similar to aged mozzarella, but made from sheep’s milk), a container of Georgian pickles (garlic, cabbage, hot peppers), fresh vegetables and herbs from a farmer’s market, sometimes I baked Georgian khachapuri (a special bread with cheese filling). Then we loaded all these delicatessen into a car and drove to our country house to spend a weekend. There, we grilled shish kabobs on an open fire and served them in a simple way – with lots of fresh tomatoes, baby cucumbers, fragrant herbs, some pickles, and Georgian flat bread lavash (similar to naan or pita). And it was great! We shared food and wine with our friends and greatly enjoyed that feast.
Oh, no, I forgot about special sauces for our shish kabobs. Georgian sauces make up a whole chapter in Caucasian cuisine. Sweet and sour, delicate and tangy – they are incredibly delicious. One of these tasty sauces is a plum sauce tkemali. Tkemali for Georgians is like ketchup for Americans.
Tiny sour plums grown in Georgia gave their name to this famous sauce. Here, in the US, I use Italian plums to make the sauce, and they work very well. Every autumn, when produce sections are full with different kinds of plums, I am looking for elongated small dark fruits, which have the name ‘Italian’. They are the best for preserves, pickling, cakes, as well as making tkemali. Of course other kinds of plums can be used for the sauce, but to my taste, the Italian are the best I could find here.
Tkemali is excellent with any meat, poultry, hot dogs, burgers and some fish. It goes so well with turkey (hello Thanksgiving). My friends like to use the sauce as a dip. It is their new tradition to serve a bowl of my tkemali sauce with a basket of chips on game days.
This plum sauce stores well in a refrigerator for a long time. So, make it now and use for holiday feasts.
Cut each plum in half crosswise. Twist the halves in opposite direction. Discard the pit.
Put the plums in a heavy bottomed pot. Add ½ cup of water and dried herbs and spices, bring to a boil on high heat, lower the heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add all the remaining ingredients. Using an immersion blender, stationary blender or a food processor make a puree. Adjust the seasoning and water. Bring to a boil and simmer on very low heat for 10 minutes.
Pour hot sauce into clean dry jars. Close tightly. Cool. Keep in a refrigerator.
Cook with pleasure and enjoy the world!