In the Svaneti region of Georgia, with the highest mountains in Europe, live the Svans. The story goes that the Svans prized salt so much that in olden times a measure of salt was worth as much as a cow in trade. Valuable salt couldn’t be wasted and so it was parsed, and stretched by adding in herbs and spices. Svaneti salt has become much beloved throughout Georgia and perhaps the world, where it is offered in little bowls to be sprinkled on salads, sides, beans, grains, potatoes and meats.
Village of Adishi, Flag of The Republic of Georgia, Svaneti Region
Makes 2 cups /278g Ingredients 1 cup /218g coarse sea salt 1 T + 1½ t /18g crushed garlic 2 T /14g caraway seeds 1 T + 1½ t /8g coriander seeds 2 t /5g whole black peppercorns 2 t /8g whole fenugreek seeds 2 t /4g dill seeds 1 T /6g Aleppo pepper or 1T /6g paprika with ¼ t (pinch) cayenne
Method Pre-measure all ingredients into four bowls: whole spices, powdered spices, garlic, salt In a spice grinder grind the whole spices and set aside, then grind salt with the powdered spices and garlic. In 2-3 batches grind all spices together until everything is evenly combined. Store in a jar and keep where you will use it often. It will last until you are done with it. With Love Enjoy
Favorite Salt Mix
This is one of my all time favorite salt mixes and I’m so happy to share it with you. I first discovered it in the back pages of Paula Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean.A cookbook I use a lot especially for teaching and catering. There’s also a recipe for it in Tony Hill’s The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices,also an excellent reference, well loved and used. Their recipes are different, as is to be expected. Paula Wolfert’s doesn’t contain dill or Aleppo pepper. I love Aleppo pepper but haven’t had the heart to buy any in recent years. It would bring tears into my food, I hope this changes soon [ moment of silence ]. I’ve tried both of their recipes, and have settled on using Paula Wolfert’s ratios with the addition of dill and paprika which Tony Hill’s include. I’m happy with the outcome.
Several years ago a food passionate young man, Sam, helped me cook for the Copper Canyon Press Holiday Party. He was an intern there, but was much more enlivened by the poetry of food than pages. I think my party-food theme was Turkish but wandered over towards Georgia, a cuisine I hold in great esteem. The fresh herb sauces, use of red peppers, spicing; such simple, bold, and vibrant food with an inner grace and wisdom. To be wrapped up into that much culinary tradition, I envy it.I had Sam make a batch of Svaneti salt, and he was all over it, enraptured as cooks get. Sharing that winter afternoon with Sam, making fabulous food, food poetry together, always brings me back to Svaneti salt, and the spice of life. I made Sam a jar of Svaneti salt, and hand wrote the recipe for him when he moved away, on to his next adventure.