Lately I’ve been adding ajika to several of my foods: eggs, steak, ground beef, ground turkey, liver, salmon, vegetables, etc. I post pictures of it on my social media, and am frequently asked, “What is ajika?”
So, what is ajika? Ajika is a Georgian food product that comes in more than one form, most commonly a dip, but also as a spice. The dip is commonly used on beef, chicken, and potatoes, and can also be added to egg dishes and sandwiches. Similarly, the dry spice version, which is what I have been using, is added to these foods as well.
Ajika originated in western Georgia in the Samegrelo and Abkhazia regions. Its main ingredients are red peppers, garlic, coriander, and blue fenugreek. The name itself is derived from the Abkhaz work for salt (аџьыка; pronounced “adjika”).
According to legend, it was invented in the 1400s by landlords as a seasoning to add to livestock feed. Their rationale was that it would be used to ensure livestock would get sufficient salt intake, and the shepherds who fed the livestock would be dissuaded from taking it for themselves as they would not enjoy its spiciness. However, the strategy backfired as the flavor was found to be delicious. Hence, a legendary seasoning was born.
Ajika has a rich and peppery flavor that is spicy, but not overwhelming, mildly garlicky, and a bit earthy. It is very unique, and I can’t think of anything to compare it to.
In addition to its wonderful flavor, it is also said to have health benefits such as aiding in digestion, metabolic regulation, strengthening the immune system, antiviral and bactericidal properties, and blood flow stimulation.