Spices from Georgia
Traditional Georgian Market is one of the most colorful places, filled with pallets of various spices and different aromas. Here you can find spices of any color and flavor, intended for any meal of your choice. But it’s not the color what makes them special.
Spices are a major part of Georgian cuisine. They are used in almost every traditional dish and often define their character. For years, Georgians have been mixing flavors imported from the East with local flavors and created seasonings popular in Georgia and abroad. Locals consider meals without spices boring and know that spices create the so called “Georgian Taste” and are crucial in any cooking process, making dishes even more delicious and diverse, characterized by unique, yet familiar taste.
Not only spices enhance any recipe, but they are a rich source of minerals and vitamins and other nutrients. Many of them even have healing properties and are used in medicine. Georgian cuisine is rich not only with single spices, but spice blends that create unique seasonings. There are many popular combinations already proven and used for years.
Among this diversity, there are some spices that are most frequently used in Georgian cooking:
Coriander – probably the most common spices in Georgian cuisine, that you can find in almost every traditional recipe. While fresh leaves are used as herbs, dried seeds are a popular spice. Coriander is spread in all parts of Georgia and its flavor slightly varies, depending on the region.
Coriander is beneficial for diabetics, regulating blood sugar levels and helps to lower the level of "bad" cholesterol (LDL). Coriander is a rich source of Iron and is perfect for people with anemia. Also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and minerals such as Phosphorus. Its antihistamine action helps to reduce seasonal allergies. Coriander is also popular in Indian cuisine. In Georgian recipes, it's often combined with Blue Fenugreek. This duo is usually used for dishes with meat and walnuts.
Blue Fenugreek – originated from Mediterranean, Blue Fenugreek, also called Utskho Suneli or Ulumbo, grows wildly in Georgia. It is mildly spicy seasoning with delicate strong aroma. While also spread in Europe, Asia, and South Africa, for many locals it's often associated with Georgian taste. In Georgian cuisine, Blue Fenugreek is used to prepare Satsivi, Bazhe, Beans(Lobio), Kubdari and other traditional dishes. Blue Fenugreek is perfectly suitable for dishes with meat, fish and potatoes. Often added to salads and cottage cheese. Since Blue fenugreek has specific flavor, dosage is the most important part. Consider using reasonable amounts in your recipes because overdoing may enhance specific, bitter taste but balanced amounts will enrich your dishes with extraordinary flavor.
Blue Fenugreek is a great source of B vitamins. Contains minerals such as Potassium, Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium etc. This unique spice regulates metabolism, the work of the digestive system and helps lower blood pressure. Also beneficial for endocrine, nervous, cardiovascular, immune systems. Has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action.
Marigold – one more popular spice used in Georgian cuisine. Locals call it “Yellow Flower” and use it in almost every dish with walnuts, such as Satsivi. Marigold has a very gentle aroma that combines well with other spices. Popular addition for salads and vegetables. Marigold is a good antioxidant and rich source of vitamins A and C, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Phosphate and other beneficial nutrients.
Cumin – Originated from South Asia, cumin is popular in Georgia, as well as in Asia and Latin American countries. Cumin has a bit more intensive flavor and combines well with Black pepper and bay leaf. It's often used in dishes with fatty meat as it neutralizes the taste of fat. Cumin is high in Iron and Vitamin C and also beneficial for digestive and immune systems. One of the most famous Georgian dishes with cumin is Khinkali(Georgian dumpling).
Spices like Blue Fenugreek, Coriander, Cumin, Marigold, red hot pepper are typical additions for Georgian dishes and for home-cooked meals, every cook determines the amount of these incredible ingredients depending on taste and family traditions. But this is only a small part of a vast array of spices spread and appreciated in Georgia. World of Georgian spices may be confusing for some customers. That’s why you may prefer all-purpose seasonings, which are often a mix of spices, already blended and balanced.
Among all Georgian seasonings, Svanetian Salt and Adjika are probably the most popular among both locals and visitors as they have unique taste and can be great addition to many meals:
Svanetian Salt or Svanuri Salt is a traditional seasoning from Georgian high mountainous region of Svaneti. It is a perfectly balanced, harmonious and highly flavored mixture of spices, garlic and salt. Often its taste is dominant in recipes, especially if other ingredients have less intensive taste. Since Svaneti is located in the high mountains, historically, it was often inaccessible, especially in winter, when snow was blocking all the roads. In order to stretch their salt reserves Svan people developed this seasoning and created a unique taste that gained its popularity very soon. Now it even has the status of a monument of intangible cultural heritage of Georgia. Traditionally, Svan housewives dried all the necessary spices and then combined with salt and garlic. Today Svanetian Salt, sold in markets is slightly different from the original recipe, because it lacks one of local spices – Gitsruli, which is deficient and only available in Svaneti. Usually manufacturers replace it with Cumin.
Svan cuisine mainly consists of meat and dairy dishes and is one of the most exceptional parts of Georgian cuisine, but it's never complete without Svanetian Salt. It goes well with almost every meal, is used to enhance meat, fish, potato dishes, salads and can transform even a simple tomato and cucumber salad to an extraordinary meal. Just adding a small amount of this seasoning as a finishing salt gives any meal exotic flavor.
Adjika is another Georgian mix of seasonings, originated from Western Georgia, particularly Samegrelo and Abkhazia. Generally, Adjika is hot, spicy seasoning, made with a combination of red hot pepper, garlic, salt and other spices but there are many types of Adjika available and each recipe varies by form, taste and spiciness. You can find Red Adjika, Green Adjika, Dry Adjika, Adjika with tomatoes etc. Georgian families have their own tradition of making Adjika. Usually it is considered that housewives from Samegrelo make the best Adjika, but it may be too spicy for many customers, that’s why there are mildly spice versions available on the market.
This universal blend is popular in Georgia and abroad because of its intense flavor and taste and because one can use it with almost everything. Adjika suits well any tips of meat, potatoes, soups, salads, dairy products. Many cooks use it to marinade meat before roasting. Some even eat solely with bread.
For anyone, appreciating exotic and extraordinary taste, Adjika and Svanetian Salt are must try seasonings. If you also like to cook and discover new recipes, you can use a mix of already blended spices, suitable for specific Georgian dishes like Kharcho, Satsivi, Lobio(bean) and many more.
While there are many recipes available, we can offer one of them, which is relatively simple and express Georgian taste pretty well:
Mix ground walnuts with garlic and Special seasoning for Satsivi, add boiled and cooled water to the mixture and stir until you get thickened mass. Add a small amount of vinegar. Continue stirring until you get a smooth sauce and your perfect Georgian taste – Bazhe is ready. You can put boiled chicken, fish or eggs in Bazhe and keep in the refrigerator.
Interested in Georgian spices? – Visit our online shop and find seasonings suitable for your taste. We offer ready to use seasonings as well as blended versions of spices for specific dishes.