The Georgian Spice Mix
When I was growing up in Russia we generally only used salt, pepper, bay leaves and other common spices and herbs. So when khmeli suneli appeared from sunny Georgia, then a part of the USSR, it was the most exotic spice mix we had ever tried. Many people started cooking Georgian recipes such as Chakhokhbili (chicken stew), Kharcho (Beef or lamb soup with rice), Chanakhi (lamb and vegetable stew), which soon became staples of Russian cuisine.
Khmeli-suneli is a Georgian spice and herb mix popular in Georgia and the whole Caucasus region. It is more herby than spicy and has a very aromatic flavour. It is pretty powerful too, so don’t use too much as it can easily overpower all the other flavours in your dishes.
Fenugreek, savory, coriander, basil, dill, bay leaves, parsley, mint, marjoram, hot chilli powder and saffron.
Put 1 tsp each of fenugreek, savory, coriander, ½ tsp hot chilli powder and a pinch of saffron into a spice grinder, add 2 crumbled bay leaves and grind them together. Place the mix in a small bowl, add 1 tsp each of basil, dill, parsley, mint and marjoram, mix together with a spoon and keep in a tightly closed spice jar.
If you don’t have a spice grinder, mix all the herbs and spices, except for the bay leaves, and simply add a bay leaf into the saucepan when you cook the dish.
Some of the recipes use one ingredient which is not very widely available – dried Marigold petals, which are also known as Imertinsky saffron. If you decide to give it a try, use ½ tsp instead of the saffron in the above recipe.
Next week I am going to add a recipe for Chakhokhbili, Georgian chicken stew, using this spice mix, so come back to check it out.