Chilli pastes are having a bit of a moment currently with everything from harissa to gochujang to sambal oelek being commonplace in recipes the world over these days. Adding a bit of heat and flavour to otherwise mundane foods, there is one chilli paste that has yet to jump to international fame and fortune among the rest; and that is Georgian adjika.
Because it can be hard to find (especially more traditional versions), I have developed an easy adjika recipe that can be made in a flash and used immediately in any recipe.
Adjika is spicy and incredibly flavourful and I am certain it is only a matter of time before it gains more international recognition. Whether you’re looking to add it to a traditional Georgian recipe, use it as a rub for chicken or lamb or simply spread it on a piece of bread for a snack, adjika is the perfect addition to any refrigerator and absolutely delicious to have on hand.
So if you’re looking for an adjika recipe that is more traditional than others out there, look no further. This Georgian chilli paste is incredibly easy to make and so tasty you will find an excuse to use it everywhere you can!
What is Adjika?
Before I jump into this adjika recipe, let’s first discuss for a minute exactly what adjika is. Adjika — sometimes spelt “ajika” and transliterated from the Georgian აჯიკა — can be one of the most misunderstood aspects of Georgian cuisine because of its popularity throughout Eastern Europe, especially in countries the comprised the former USSR.
Adjika, the traditional Megrelian and Abkhazian versions at least, is a paste made with hot chillies, sweet peppers, garlic, herbs and spices. The paste is then used in countless recipes (such as chakhokhbili, chashushuli or in sauces like satsebeli) or as a rub to season meats.
One of the most iconic uses for adjika is for a New Year’s Eve supra when a suckling pig is rubbed with the chilli paste and then roasted in a tone, a stone oven similar to a tandoor that is typically used for baking bread in Georgia.
Adjika hails from the western Samegrelo region of Georgia and Abkhazia and features heavily in the dishes in these areas. You will see two kinds of the chilli paste in Georgia, red adjika and green adjika. Red adjika uses red peppers and chillies as the base and the green, unsurprisingly, uses green chillies and peppers.
Where adjika can be misunderstood is how it has been interpreted in the rest of Eastern Europe. Adjika sauce is incredibly popular in places like Russia and Ukraine and even in the Baltic countries, however, it is vastly different from what you will find in Georgia.
This adjika sauce is typically a tomato-based sauce (Megrelian and Abkhazian adjika do not use tomatoes) that incorporates things like carrots as well. There is a slight amount of heat from chillies, however, this sauce is more closely related to something like a Balkan ajvar rather than a chilli paste.
The recipe outlined before is far more traditional, so if you’re looking for an adjika sauce recipe, you should likely look elsewhere!
How to Make Georgian Adjika
Now that we’ve discussed what adjika is and some of the uses for it, let’s talk about how to make Georgian adjika!
This adjika recipe is incredibly easy and can come together really quickly, however, it is the easiest to make if you have a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can make the chilli paste in a mortar and pestle or you can do as the Georgians do and put everything through a meat grinder! It will be quickest in a food processor, however.
So without further ado, take the time to remove the seeds and ribs from some romano peppers (or red bell peppers if you can’t find Romanos) and very roughly chop them.
Then, if you wish, remove the ribs and seeds from some hot red chillies. Depending on the heat level of the chillies and how spicy you want your adjika, you can remove the ribs and seeds from some, all or none of the chillies. Roughly chop these as well.
Then, roughly chop a few cloves of garlic. Add peppers, chillies and garlic to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until everything is very finely chopped and homogenous.
Next, add a good amount of fresh red basil (if you can’t find red basil, Thai basil is a good substitute. I wouldn’t recommend using Genovese basil as the flavour is a bit too sweet to work well in adjika), fresh parsley and a generous amount of fresh cilantro.
Then add in about a tablespoon of salt. This may seem like a lot of salt but Georgian adjika is traditionally incredibly salty as this helps extend the shelf life almost indefinitely. When you use the adjika in recipes, I highly recommend really cutting back on any additional salt you would normally add as a result of this.
Pulse this all to combine again just until the herbs are finely chopped and well incorporated into the chilli and pepper mixture.
Now, it’s time to add your spices. This Georgian adjika recipe calls for what is essentially the holy trinity of Georgian spices: blue fenugreek, ground marigold powder (referred to as Georgian saffron on Georgia), and ground coriander seed. Blitz these in the food processor just to combine.
Finally, with the machine running, slowly drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil. Process this until it is well emulsified. Then, turn off the machine and transfer the adjika to a fine mesh sieve to drain off any extra moisture and to ensure that the adjika has a thick, paste-like consistency.
And that’s it! Now, you can transfer your adjika to an airtight container and refrigerate it. It will last indefinitely with the heat and salt level in it, but do use your better judgement if it’s been hanging out in the refrigerator for months on end. You also can use it right away in any recipe that you think will benefit!
Georgian Adjika Paste
This Georgian chilli paste hails from Abkhazia and the Samegrelo region of Western Georgia and is commonly used in sauces or as a rub for meats. Spicy and unique, it is easy to make and incredibly flavourful
- 2 Romano peppers, seeds and ribs removed
- 50g (1.8oz) red chillies, such as Fresno, some or all of seeds and ribs removed, if desired
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 15g (0.5oz) cilantro leaves
- 10g (0.3oz) purple basil leaves
- 10g (0.3oz) flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 10g (0.3oz) salt
- 2tsp blue fenugreek
- 1tsp marigold powder
- 1tsp ground coriander seed
- 30ml (2tbsp) sunflower oil
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the Romano peppers, red chillies and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the contents are very finely chopped.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cilantro, basil, parsley and salt. Pulse again until the herbs are finely chopped and everything is well incorporated
- Scrape the bowl once more and add the fenugreek, marigold and coriander. Pulse again just to combine. Then, with the machine running, slowly stream in the oil until it is well emulsified.
- Transfer the adjika to a fine mesh sieve and drain any excess liquid away until it has the consistency of a thick paste. Taste to adjust for seasoning - it should be very salty as this is what preserves it for a long time.
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or use right away
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 84Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 478mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Making the perfect, traditional Georgian adjika recipe is not a difficult undertaking and the results are seriously flavourful.
Are you looking for the perfect Megrelian or Abkhazian adjika recipe? Have any questions about how to make adjika? Let me know in the comments!
Beautiful written article. So clear and capturing. Thank you. Adjika is absolutely delicious.
Thanks, Davit 🙂
Oh, and I just made cubed steak fried on a pen with dried Adjika and it was the most delicious steak I’ve ever head. It just goes so well (even besides Georgian dishes) with so many things, literally any meat, rice, quinoa, cumber, pasta, tofu, fish, veggies… you name it.
Adjika really does make everything better 🙂