Rhubarb Tkemali

Recipe from Khris Hogg, owner of Perennial Cider Bar in Belfast, ME.

This tart and savory sauce is based on a Georgian condiment traditionally made from a specific type of sour plum that we don’t have here. Rhubarb is a great alternative, and although we haven’t tried it yet, Beach Plum might be an even more accurate local rendering of the original.

We enjoy this with chicken, seafood, or as a spread on toast with fresh cheese. It can also be stretched with oil into a salad dressing, or blended with fresh mayonnaise for a sandwich spread or dressing for pasta salad or other cold dishes. The seasoning amounts can be tweaked to your taste without ruining anything. This sauce freezes well, so you can savor the freshness of spring whenever you’d like. Recipe makes about 2 cups.

  • 1 lb rhubarb, chopped into 1" chunks
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar (red wine is traditional, but apple cider vinegar works)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cumin, freshly ground
  • ½ tsp coriander, freshly ground
  • ½ c. cilantro, chopped
  • ½ c. dill, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp ground chiles (if you like a little heat)

In a small pot, add rhubarb with a couple tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb begins to soften and release its juice. Stir once or twice to prevent burning. Resist the urge to add more water—there should be enough water in the rhubarb to make a cooking liquid.

Stir in vinegar, garlic, cumin and coriander. Simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes.

Turn off heat and stir in herbs. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Salt to taste.