While I will not hide that tkemali is definitely my favourite, if I’m looking for a great sauce to accompany a juicy mtsvadi or some roasted potatoes while at a restaurant in Georgia, I may just order a side of satsebeli. This spicy tomato sauce is a favourite in Georgia and is commonly eaten atop barbecued and potatoes. In fact, you will be hard-pressed not to find it on any restaurant menu or adorning the shelves of any corner shop. But what if you’re not in Georgia or you simply want to go for a homemade version of this classic Caucasian condiment? Well, that’s what this satsebeli recipe is for!
This sauce is incredibly easy to make and it is sure to quickly become one of your favourites. Sort of like a looser, more flavourful ketchup, satsebeli can make pretty much anything better. And it is so easy to make (so long as you can get your hands on some adjika — or make it at home!) that you may just be whipping up a batch on the regular.
So if you’re looking for the perfect satsebeli recipe, then look no further! This one packs a lot of traditional Georgian flavours into a really easy-to-make sauce that is sure to hit the spot with whatever you serve it with!
What is Satsebeli?
Alright, so before I get into how to make this satsebeli recipe, let’s talk about what exactly the sauce is. Well, as I’ve mentioned already, it’s a relatively simple (but very flavourful) tomato sauce that’s exceedingly popular throughout the country of Georgia. It can be made with either whole, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes or tomato paste. It also varies from person to person and family to family what is exactly used to flavour the sauce.
Typically satsebeli is always mildly spicy (I think this, however, heat levels are always relative) and uses either red adjika chilli paste or whole fresh chillies in it. There is also a reliance on classic Georgian spices like blue fenugreek and coriander and often includes lots of fresh cilantro (coriander), as well.
My satsebeli recipe used both tomato paste and adjika but if you can’t find it (you can order it online here), you can simply use some crushed chilli flakes and a higher proportion of garlic and spices than I call for in the recipe.
Regardless of the ingredients used or the method, you will find that satsebeli might just make the perfect condiment to just about anything!
How to Make Satsebeli
So now that we’ve talked about what satsebeli is, let’s jump into how to make it! I know I’ve mentioned about a hundred times already, but this sauce really is very easy to make but the results are really tasty so your effort will pay off tenfold.
What we need to start with is sauteeing an onion. I recommend dicing your onion as small as possible to avoid large chunks of onion in your finished sauce. I’ve seen some satsebeli recipes that call for pureeing the onion in a blender, but I really don’t think that is necessary. Just chop it small and then you don’t have to get out (and clean) another appliance.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat about a tablespoon of neutral oil until it’s just shimmering. Add the onion along with a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very softened and turning translucent but not browned, about five to ten minutes.
Then, add in your adjika (a good amount in order to really get the delicious flavour) and some blue fenugreek and ground coriander seed.
This isn’t a typical step of making satsebeli, however, I find that blooming the spices in oil before adding the tomato paste gives it a more robust flavour. Also, the spices are oil-soluble so their flavours come out better when given the chance to bloom in the oil before anyway.
Once the adjika and spice mixture is very fragrant (after about 2 minutes), add your minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
Then, add in your tomato paste, stir it until it’s well combined with all of your onions, garlic, adjika and spices and cook it until the colour darkens slightly and it begins to look a bit jammy, another 2 minutes. This is an important step to get the tinny flavour out of the tomato paste and also to add yet another level of complexity onto the satsebeli.
Once your tomato paste reaches the desired stage, slowly pour in some water. I start with about 500ml but add it very slowly in order to reach your desired consistency.
Satsebeli isn’t typically a thick sauce so it should be fairly runny, The water also helps to dilute the very strong flavour from the tomato paste. Make sure to taste along the way while adding in the water to ensure that you’re getting the desired flavour, as well.
As soon as you’re at your desired consistency, let the sauce come up to a simmer and allow it to bubble away for about ten minutes. This will let the flavours mellow out a bit and become more homogenous. Then, turn off the heat and slowly stir in a good amount of chopped fresh cilantro!
Now, all you need to do is serve your satsebeli atop whatever it is your heart desires! You can also wait for it to come to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container and refrigerating.
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons red adjika paste
- 1 teaspoon blue fenugreek
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 50g (1/4 cup) tomato paste
- 10g (about 2 tablespoons) fresh cilantro, chopped
- Over medium-low heat in a large saucepan, heat a tablespoon of neutral oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and translucent, about 5-10 minutes
- Increase the heat to medium and add adjika, blue fenugreek and coriander. Cook until very fragrant and darkened in colour slightly, about 2 more minutes.
- Add garlic and cook just until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and cook until it darkens in colour and becomes a bit sticky, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly stream in about 500ml (2 cups) of water, adding a bit at a time until your desired consistency is met. Add more water, as needed, to both dilute the sauce or to get your desired consistency. Satsebeli is usually relatively loose, so add up to a litre of water if needed.
- Bring the sauce up to a gentle simmer and allow to bubble for about ten minutes, just until all of the flavours have melded together and have mellowed. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve immediately atop grilled meat or potatoes or allow to cool to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 16Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
And that is all there is to making this delicious satsebeli recipe! You’re sure to love it atop everything from barbecued meats to potatoes. This is a classic Georgian condiment that is sure to quickly become one of your favourites.
Are you searching for a great satsebeli recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!