In Georgia and the greater Caucasus, ajika comes in an array of colors and textures—red or green; saucy or pasty or granulated—but all are devilishly spicy. This shelf-stable, sprinkle-able version from chef Meriko Gubeladze of Shavi Lomi in Tbilisi comes together in minutes and hits the spot with minimal elbow grease. Swirl ajika by the tablespoon into soups, sprinkle it on salads and sheet-pan vegetables, or rub it on roast meats and fish for a floral yet fiery kick.
Georgian chiles are traditionally dried over smoldering hazelnut wood; in the absence of that ingredient, Gubeladze suggests supplementing more widely available Aleppo pepper with a touch of Spanish paprika to approximate ajika’s signature smoky note. Look for dried marigold flowers and blue fenugreek in local Eastern European markets, or otherwise try your neighborhood spice shop or (of course) Amazon. Blue fenugreek is milder and sweeter than more widely available Indian varieties, while marigold blossoms lend a delicate earthy-fruity note. Both of these spices are also ingredients in another important Georgian spice blend, khmeli suneli; read more about it and find the recipe here.
Featured in “Georgian Ajika Goes Mainstream.”
- 1 tbsp. ground coriander
- 1 tbsp. Aleppo pepper
- 1 tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground dried marigold petals (optional)
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground fenugreek (preferably Georgian blue fenugreek)
- 1⁄2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)
- 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, Aleppo pepper, salt, marigold, fenugreek, and Spanish paprika.
- Using a knife, mortar and pestle, or garlic press, make a fine paste from the garlic cloves. Add the paste to the spice mixture and incorporate it thoroughly using a spoon or your fingertips. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks.