Georgian Pickled Plum Sauce


Preparation info

  • Makes About

    2 Cups

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Barbecue Bible

By Steven Raichlen

Published 1998

  • About

A deliciously tart table sauce made with sour plums and cilantro, tkemali is the Republic of Georgia’s answer to ketchup. Pronounced tek-MA-lee, it accompanies everything from grilled sausages to fish. Since dark red tkemali plums are very sour, I suggest using the large underripe red plums found at most American supermarkets. They work well for this recipe. You can also use other tart fruits, like rhubarb (see Note).


  • 1 pound underripe red plums
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or dill


    1. Fill a large saucepan half full of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immerse the plums in the water for 1 minute, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Slip off the skins, using a sharp paring knife. Cut each plum around its circumference all the way to the stone, then twist the halves in opposite directions to separate them. Use a spoon to pop out the stone. Cut each plum half in half again.

    2. Combine the quartered plums, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, coriander, salt, hot pepper flakes, and ¾ cup of water in a small nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, until the plums are very soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer the plum mixture to a food processor or blender and process to a smooth puree. Return the puree to the saucepan and stir in the cilantro. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until the sauce is reduced to about 2 cups, about 5 minutes.

    3. Remove the sauce from the heat and taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice, salt, and/or hot pepper flakes as necessary; the sauce should be highly seasoned. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving. The sauce can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for at least 2 weeks.