Khmeli Suneli: The Georgian Garam Masala

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Khmeli suneli is a spice blend in the mold of ras el hanout and garam masala. You can find it being used throughout the Black Sea region but it is most commonly associated with the Republic of Georgia. One of its nicknames is Georgian five spice powder but the name khmeli suneli translates literally to dried spices. It is a distinctly Georgian spice blend that has been molded by that country’s tastes and history. Blends like khmeli suneli have been useful for the average Georgian by making spices affordable. While the individual spices in the blend might be expensive, the blend itself is relatively affordable.

Georgia’s relationship to spices was dictated by its central position on ancient spice routes that ran between China and the Mediterranean. As a result, this spice blend and Georgia’s cuisine combine the cooking styles of East and West in a variety of unique ways.

Today, khmeli suneli is widely used throughout Georgia as an all-purpose seasoning.

Khmeli suneli flavor profile

Like most other traditional spice blends, the ingredients in khmeli suneli vary a lot depending on who is making it. That there are certain ingredients that show up in most blends. The flavor profile is dominated by its herbal ingredients, some of which are familiar in the West. The well-known herbs in most khmeli suneli blends include dill, savory, and bay leaf. It also includes Asian spices like fenugreek and black pepper. Among the khmeli suneli’s distinctly Georgian ingredients are marigold, a Georgian variety of coriander known as k’indzi along with blue fenugreek. The blend gets an earthy flavor from the marigold in addition to its coloring properties. The k’indzi tastes like regular coriander but with a more floral aspect to its flavor.

Health benefits of kmeli suneli

Khmeli suneli’s nutritional profile can vary since there is no set group of ingredients; however, most blends will include a handful of specific herbs and spices that help to give the blend its distinctive flavor profile. Each of these ingredients brings its own set of nutrients to the blend. These nutrients include:

  • Carotenoids: The color of marigold petals comes from carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Vitamins: Thyme is a good source of vitamin K, while dill contains vitamins A along with various B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin.
  • Minerals: The dill in khmeli suneli is a good source of potassium, while the thyme is a good source of iron.

Because of its nutrients, khmeli suneli can help with the treatment and prevention of these health problems:

  • Eye ailments: The carotenoids in khmeli suneli can help to prevent the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Cancer: Carotenoids in marigolds can help to fight against different types of cancer including colon cancer and leukemia.

Common uses

Khmeli suneli is an excellent complement to walnuts, which are a staple of Georgian cuisine. Khmeli suneli is crucial for dishes like pkhali that relies on the flavor in the spice blend in addition to walnuts. It is also found in other staples like satsivi. Along with its traditional applications, khmeli suneli can be used as you would use other spice blends in western dishes. You can add it to soups and stews or use it as a dry rub for barbecue. It is particularly tasty on fish, chicken and lamb.