Bowl of Green Tkemali
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Tkemali - Sour Plum Sauce
Georgia
  -   Tkemali
Makes
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
1-1/2 cup  
***
1-1/4 hr  
Yes
This is Georgia's universal condiment, used with vegetables, chicken and especially with grilled lamb or beef. It is also often used as an ingredient in soups and stews.



1-1/2
1/4
------
2
1/2
3/4
1
1
------
1
1/3
#
c
---
cl
t
t
t
t
---
T
c
Sour Plums (1)  
Water
-- Seasonings
Garlic
Salt
Coriander Seed
Fennel Seed
Chili Powder (2)
--------
Mint, fresh (3)
Cilantro
Prep   -   (50 minutes)
  1. Cut PLUMS in half and remove seeds (I twist them in half, then use a narrow grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place them in a sauce pan with 1/4 c water (I usually cut them in quarters). Simmer covered for 20 minutes or until the plums are very soft. Caution:   Use a sauce pan with plenty of head room and take care with the heat, the plums will foam way up near the end of cooking.
  2. Separate the pulp from the skins and Purée the plums as needed (see Note-4).
  3. Crush GARLIC and chop fine. Place in a mortar with Salt and pound to a paste. Grind Spices in your spice grinder and mix with the Garlic.
  4. Chop Mint and Cilantro very fine. Mix.
Run   -   (20 min)
  1. Put Puréed Plums in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer for about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in Seasonings mix and simmer 5 minutes or until you have a medium sauce consistency.
  3. Stir in Herb mix and take off heat.
  4. Pack into a jar. In a tightly sealed jar this sauce should keep at least a week in the fridge.
NOTES:
  1. Sour Plums:   The tkemali plum (cherry plum) is not readily available in North America, though the tree is grown as a decorative. I have used somewhat under-ripe small yellow plums quite successfully. I also sampled small somewhat under-ripe green plums, but the yellow were just as sour and had better flavor. If you can't get any sour plums, Santa Rosa plums have been recommended, with perhaps a little lemon juice added just before the herbs for proper sourness.
  2. Chili:   Here you can control the hotness of the sauce, by varying the amount or type of chili. I use 1 t of Indian Reshampatti, which is fairly hot and has good flavor. This provides about the hotness I want, though some may want a little less (or more). For details see our Chili Page.
  3. Mint:   Most recipes say the Georgians use Pennyroyal, but it appears what is used is actually a mint thyme that tastes much like penyroyal. Penyroyal is not widely available in North America due to toxicity concerns, and this thyme is not available either, but Spearmint or similar work well.
  4. Puréeing Plums:   I have seen photos of just simmered tkemali (cherry plums) as used in Georgia with a lot of tough skins around them. Recipes suggest separating the pulp from the skins with a food mill (an expensive device that, in my opinion, doesn't work very well) or pressing through a strainer using a wooden spoon. With the plums I used (not quite ripe yellow plums), you could barely detect the skins at all, so I just ran them in a food processor, and that worked perfectly.
  5. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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