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Tunisia has its harissa, Louisiana has its Crystal, and Georgia — the country, not the state — has adjika. But to designate this spicy condiment “Georgian” is a disservice to the intensely complex pepper paste and its somewhat complicated ancestry. Unfortunately, unless you travel to Georgia — specifically Abkhazia (itself a subject of dispute) and Samegrelo, in the west — you’ll probably not taste adjika in its truest form. Both regions make claims on the sauce’s invention. (For what it’s worth, the word “adjika,” also rendered “ajika,” comes from the Abkhaz word for salt.) But thanks to the increased popularity of Georgian cuisine in America, you can at least taste a hint of this complexity. At Supra, chef Malkhaz Maisashvili makes three types of the sauce — green, red, roasted — and serves each with various dishes on the menu. The ever-buzzy Maydan seasons its rib-eye with it. You can even purchase acceptable jars of adjika in nearly any Eastern European market (although purists will tell you otherwise). Adjika is fiery and a tad peculiar, with plenty of garlic and hints of coriander and often unidentifiable spices. No two cooks make adjika the same way, of course, and it ranges from paste to sauce-like in texture. You may even find it in powdered form at spice shops.
The pungent bulbs are often deployed in Georgian cuisine, and adjika is no exception.
It makes everything better, after all.
3. Blue fenugreek
Called utskho suneli, the spice lends a little bitterness and hard-to-place scent.
A neutral oil such as canola helps the flavors bind together.
Fresh spicy red peppers, such as Fresno chiles, used at Supra, make an adjika more sauce-like.
The ground spice adds citrusy notes.
Find adjika in the District on the menus of Supra (1205 11th St. NW, 202-789-1205, supradc.com) and Maydan (1346 Florida Ave. NW, 202-370-3696, maydandc.com).
Kara Elder is the editorial aide and a contributor for the Food section. She tests, edits and writes about recipes, plus answers readers' cooking questions. Kara worked for a cookbook author before joining The Washington Post in 2015.
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