About Food – Spices and Herbs used in Georgian Cuisine

A tradition of home-cooked meals means that markets in Georgia overflow with a vast array of spices and herbs that give Georgian cuisine its rich flavors and aromas.

Georgian Spices

In this article we describe some of the spices and herbs that are most commonly used in Georgian cooking.

Georgian Spices in market

Buckets of spices in a Georgian Market

We have included links to examples of our step-by-step photo recipes that use the described spices and herbs.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander Seeds

All parts of the coriander plant (Georgian: ქინძი) are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in Georgian cooking. Georgian recipes that use ground coriander seeds include: Tolma (Georgian: ტოლმა) – a filled, hollowed-out vegetable or a filling wrapped in a leaf; and Chicken Liver Chashushuli.

Blue Fenugreek Seeds

Blue Fenugreek Seeds

Blue fenugreek (Georgian: უცხო სუნელი) grows wild in the mountainous northern part of Georgia and is widely used to flavor food. In Georgia it is called utskho suneli or foreign spice and is prepared by grinding together the seeds and pods to yield a tan powder that is aromatic and mildly spicy.

Blue Fenugreek

Blue Fenugreek

Georgian recipes that use blue fenugreek include: Kababi; and Khabakhi (Georgian: ყაბაყი) – zucchini fried with vegetables and spices.

Dried Berberis Berries

Dried Berberis Berries

The berberis plant (Georgian: კოწახური), commonly called European barberry or simply Barberry, grows wild in Georgia and produces large crops of edible berries that are rich in vitamin C. Ground sumac, which is available in Middle Eastern food stores may be substituted for dried berberis in recipes.

Crushed Berberis Berries

Crushed Berberis Berries

Georgian recipes that use dried berberis include: Ojakhuri  pork with potatoes; and Barbecued pork with red onion.

Dried Marigold Flower Petals

Dried Marigold Flower Petals

Georgians use the dried and ground petals of the marigold (Georgian: ყვითელი ყვავილი) to give an earthy flavor and color to walnut dishes and sauces, such as bazhe.

Marigold

Marigold

Georgian recipes that use marigold include: Walnuts and spices wrapped in cabbage leaves; and Eggplant with walnuts and spices.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds

Caraway (Georgian: ძირა) is a favorite ingredient in dishes originating from Georgia’s mountain regions. The seeds can be ground in a coffee mill or spice grinder to produce a powder. Georgian recipes that use ground caraway seeds include: Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) – a very popular Georgian dumpling.

Dried Ajika

Dried Ajika

Dried Ajika (Georgian: აჯიკა). Ajika is a hot, spicy paste used to flavor meat and fish dishes mainly in Samegrelo and Abkhazia. It is made with hot red peppers, garlic, herbs and spices. In appearance and consistency ajika resembles Italian red pesto. In its dried form it is used to flavor meat and vegetables.

Svanetian Salt

Svanetian Salt

Svanetian salt (Georgian: სვანური მარილი), from Svaneti region in the mountainous north-western part of Georgia, has a unique fragrance and taste and is traditionally used as a flavoring for a variety of meat, fish, potato and soup dishes as well as a condiment instead of table salt. The salt mixture is handmade in a special wooden mortar from a minimum of 8 ingredients, including regular salt, garlic, marigold, coriander and blue fenugreek. To prepare 1 kg. of Svanetian salt takes several hours of mixing.

Megrelian Salt

Megrelian Salt

Megrelian Salt (Georgian: მეგრული მარილი), from Samegrelo region is very spicy and much hotter than Svanetian salt.

Basil

Basil

Two types of basil (Georgian: რეჰანი) are used in Georgian cooking, the green leafed variety and the purple leafed dark opal basil. Both fresh and dried basil is used. Georgian recipes that use basil include: Mushroom Chashushuli and Green Bean and Egg Bake, as well as salads.

Summer Savory

Summer Savory

Fresh and dried Summer Savory is used to flavor meats and vegetables. Georgian recipes that use summer savory include: Tkemali (Georgian ტყემალი) sour plum sauce.

Dried Bay Leaves

Dried Bay Leaves

Dried Bay leaves are extensively used in the preparation of meat dishes, especially pork. They are also used in marinades and in cooking some vegetable dishes. Georgian recipes that use bay leaves include: Lobio (Georgian: ლობიო) – a popular dish made with kidney beans; and Lobio with nuts (Georgian: ლობიო ნიგვზით).

Garlic

Garlic

In Georgia, garlic (Georgian: ნიორი) is a fundamental ingredient of many recipes, such as Shkmeruli (Georgian: შქმერული) – chicken dish from the Racha region; Chakapuli (Georgian: ჩაქაფული) – a popular Georgian stew made with lamb or beef; and Ham Chashushuli (რაჭული ლორის ჩაშუშული).

Parsley

Parsley

Fresh parsley is widely used in Georgian cuisine, both as an ingredient and as a garnish. Georgian recipes that use parsley include: Eggplant with spicy mayonnaise (Georgian: ბადრიჯანი მაიონეზით).

Dried Coarse Hot Pepper

Dried Coarse Hot Pepper

Georgian recipes that use dried hot pepper include: Chakhokhbili (Georgian: ჩახოხბილი) – chicken with herbs; and Tolma (Georgian: ტოლმა ბულგარული წიწაკით) – stuffed peppers.

Other popular spices and herbs used in Georgian cuisine include mint, cloves, nutmeg and mace and cinnamon.

Spice in a Georgian Market

Spice in a Georgian Market

Spice Vendor in a Georgian Market

Spice Vendor in a Georgian Market

Use traditional spices and herbs in our Georgia About recipes and enjoy authentic Georgian cuisine!

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Comments
23 Responses to “About Food – Spices and Herbs used in Georgian Cuisine”
  1. pugmantis says:

    Love, love love this post. Lovely photos – and DELICIOUS!

  2. Ok. I am Georgian and did not know all these names myself. Thank you for this beautiful post!

  3. Francesco says:

    Hi! First of all I want to congratulate you for the great job you are making with this site! All the recipes I tried, to date have been largely approved my georgian firends, and I know they are quite severe regarding food!
    I think that there is only something that should be clarified (and probably corrected) in this post about georgian spices. In georgian cuisine “caraway” is never used and as a matter of fact I never saw it at the local bazars in Tbilisi or other regions of Georgia (I found caraway only at an international supermarket). Instead, what is widely used is Cumin (which is actually ძირა, “dzira”) and as I understand there is not even a specific georgian word for “caraway”. Both Cumin (Lat.: Cuminum cyminum) and Caraway (Lat.: Carum carvi), in fact belong to the family of Apiacaee but they have really different flavors and actually I’ve never eaten, for example, khinkali with caraway.
    Of course this is not a critiic, but a simple suggestion!
    Thanks again

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  1. […] of fresh green coriander, 20 grams of fresh parsley, 1 tsp of dried coriander, half tsp of dried Blue Fenugreek, 1 and half tsp red pepper and salt (quantity dependent on personal […]

  2. […] Svanetian salt (Georgian: სვანური მარილი), from Svaneti region in the mountainous north-western part of Georgia, has a unique fragrance and taste and is traditionally used as a flavoring for a variety of meat, fish, potato and soup dishes as well as a condiment instead of table salt. The salt mixture is made from a minimum of 8 ingredients, including regular salt, ground caraway seeds, garlic, marigold, coriander and blue fenugreek. […]

  3. […] Svanetian salt (Georgian: სვანური მარილი), from Svaneti region in the mountainous north-western part of Georgia, has a unique fragrance and taste and is traditionally used as a flavoring for a variety of meat, fish, potato and soup dishes as well as a condiment instead of table salt. The salt mixture is made from a minimum of 8 ingredients, including regular salt, ground caraway seeds, garlic, marigold, coriander and blue fenugreek. […]

  4. […] of fresh green coriander, 20 grams of fresh parsley, 1 tsp of dried coriander, half tsp of dried Blue Fenugreek, 1 and half tsp red pepper and salt (quantity dependent on personal […]

  5. […] tsp of dried coriander, 1 tsp of dried mint, 1 tsp of dried Summer Savory, 4 cloves of garlic, 4 bay leaves, 2 eggs, 3 white onions, 20 grams of fresh parsley, 20 grams […]

  6. […] tsp of dried coriander, 1 tsp of dried mint, 1 tsp of dried Summer Savory, 4 cloves of garlic, 4 bay leaves, 2 eggs, 3 white onions, 20 grams of fresh parsley, 20 grams […]

  7. […] with Summer Savory is a family meal made with pork and Summer Savory […]

  8. […] green coriander, 40 grams of fresh celery leaves, 2 heaped tbs of dried coriander, 2 heaped tbs of Blue Fenugreek, 1 tbs of dried Dill and salt (dependent upon personal preference – NOTE: Ajika can be stored […]

  9. […] Chashushuli with Summer Savory is a family meal made with pork and Summer Savory herb. […]

  10. […] green coriander, 40 grams of fresh celery leaves, 2 heaped tbs of dried coriander, 2 heaped tbs of Blue Fenugreek, 1 tbs of dried Dill and salt (dependent upon personal preference – NOTE: Ajika can be stored for […]

  11. […] tbs of dried caraway. 6 and a half heaped tbs of coarse white salt and 150 grams of garlic. Click here for more information about spices and herbs used in Georgian […]

  12. […] tbs of dried caraway. 6 and a half heaped tbs of coarse white salt and 150 grams of garlic. Click here for more information about spices and herbs used in Georgian […]

  13. […] Georgian cuisine represents perhaps the ultimate mastery of harmonized herbs and spices, combining both Indian and Mediterranean sensibilities with a unique and vibrant cuisine that is all its own. It is even more healthy than the classic Mediterranean diet, including superfoods such as walnuts, pomegranate, garlic and more spices than you literally have in your home at this moment in time. Check out all the Georgian herbs and spices used in their cuisine at this link. […]

  14. […] Georgian cuisine represents perhaps the ultimate mastery of harmonized herbs and spices, combining both Indian and Mediterranean sensibilities with a unique and vibrant cuisine that is all its own. It is even more healthy than the classic Mediterranean diet, including superfoods such as walnuts, pomegranate, garlic and more spices than you literally have in your home at this moment in time. Check out all the Georgian herbs and spices used in their cuisine at this link. […]



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