All bazaars (markets) in Georgia are fun for me to go to. I love the controlled chaos. The makeshift tables piled high with everything from produce to light bulbs. The sounds of bartering and commerce. The smells. The pickled everything.
This spicy, salty and savory treat — a mix of dried spices, garlic, salt and peppers — can be made dry, or with tomatoes as a sauce, or with tomato paste as, well, a paste.
It is said to come from Samegrelo, where Zugdidi is the largest city. In Samegrelo, the native Megrelians have their own language (linguistically related to Georgian, but not so much so that I could make out any words), their own special dishes, and a fondness for all things spicy (tskhare, ცხარე) — something not usually true in other parts of the country.
So it should have come as no surprise that at the Zugdidi bazaar, adjika was on display. Not just the red stuff that we all know and love (don’t we?), but lots of variations, some of which I’d never seen before, including green adjika with sour plums and with mint.
If you don’t know much about adjika yet, I think you will — eventually. Of course we sell the real deal (dry version), but otherwise it’s hard to find in the US. And the Russian versions seen in bottles at Eastern European grocery stores just aren’t the same, in my opinion.
Perhaps it’s time to make some room on the hot sauce shelf for something truly unique and different, alongside the Sriracha, Tabasco, Frank’s and 900 varieties of habanero sauce.