Khmeli Suneli (Georgian Spice Mix)

This Khmeli Suneli recipe features an aromatic assortment of spices to add a little taste of Georgia to your stews, sauces and meat dishes.

Khmeli Suneli literally translates as dried spices, but in recent years it has become synonymous with the fragrant blend of spices so often used in Georgian cuisine. Among those spices are things you probably already have in your cupboards, such as ground coriander and dried basil. But you’ll also find a few new faces, particularly ground marigold and blue fenugreek.

Wooden spoon with spice blend over small dish with spices.

Recipe ingredients

Of course, every household uses their own combination of spices for Khmeli Suneli and this is just my favorite Georgian-inspired blend.

Ground spices in small dish before mixing.
  • Ground marigold: Sometimes translated as Imeretian saffron or even just saffron, you can buy this vibrant golden spice as dried petals or in powdered form. It adds a bit of earthiness and beautiful color to everything it touches. The flavor also makes for incredibly invigorating soups and stews — perfect for the colder months! You can find ground marigold powder here (this specific product was translated as saffron, but I’ve used it before and can confirm it is marigold).

Saffron confusion: A lot English-language recipes you’ll find for Khmeli Suneli mistakenly call for threads of saffron due to a translation error. Real saffron (Crocus sativus) is an expensive spice often used to flavor and color dishes in Persian, Indian and Spanish cuisines. It is not widely used in Georgia so please don’t make this expensive mistake!

  • Blue fenugreek: Also called utskho suneli, blue fenugreek is milder than the type of fenugreek used in Indian cuisine. It’s sweeter, slightly floral and for me provides that little flavor boost that I have come to associate with many Georgian foods. You can find blue fenugreek online here.
  • Ground coriander: This incredibly fragrant spice adds deep savory notes to the blend. Along with marigold and blue fenugreek, coriander is the remaining ingredient in kharcho suneli: a spice mix used to flavor kharcho (a type of rich stew made with rice and walnuts).
  • Dried herbs: Georgian dishes are also known for their abundant amount of fresh and dried herbs. For this recipe I used a combination of dried basil, dill weed and marjoram, but feel free to use your favorites!
  • Spicy chile powder: And finally, I always like to add a bit of dried chile powder to the mix. I used cayenne for this blend, but you can also use your favorite ground dried chiles or even substitute red chile flakes.

Recipe variations

  • Substitute regular fenugreek: If you can’t find blue fenugreek, regular fenugreek is an acceptable substitute. Keep in mind that common fenugreek has a stronger, more bitter flavor than blue fenugreek so you may want to add a bit less to your spice mix.
  • Switch up the dried herbs: Dried parsley, oregano and summer savory are great options to mix up the dried herbs.
  • Add salt: I usually don’t add salt to my Khmeli Suneli blend, because I use it in so many different ways that vary in the amount of salt needed. If you’d prefer to add salt directly to the mix, I recommend starting with less than you think you’ll want and adjusting each dish to taste.
  • Make a simple blend: Instead of Khmeli Suneli, a general spice mix, try Kharcho Suneli! Kharcho Suneli is the spice mix generally used in Kharcho, a delicious stew made with beef and rice. It consists of a simpler blend of blue fenugreek, ground marigold and coriander.

How to use Khmeli Suneli

This Khmeli Suneli spice blend can be used in soups, stews, meat marinades and vegetable dishes. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use it:

  • Add a pinch to Pkhali in place of the spices listed in the recipe.
  • Rub chicken thighs and baby potatoes with olive oil, then coat generously with Khmeli Suneli. Roast to perfection and enjoy!
  • Use a heaping spoonful to add depth and an extra umami boost to beef stew.
  • Eggplant dishes are popular in Georgia and pair extremely well with this aromatic blend.

Storing Instructions

Store the Khmeli Suneli spice in an airtight container or sealed jar in a cool, dry place.

The spice mix may begin to lose its potency after about six months.

Expert tips and tricks

  • Use fresh, high quality spices. For extra flavor, you can also consider grinding your own coriander seeds.
  • Adjust to taste. There’s no rigid recipe for Khmeli Suneli and every homecook can create their own mix. Experiment with different ratios until you find your perfect blend.
  • Invest in ground marigold. I know it’s not a spice that you regularly see, but it really does add this beautiful earthy, umami flavor to the blend. It’s not super expensive and can be easily sourced online. I use this brand, which is labeled as saffron, as in Georgia marigold leaves are referred to as saffron.


What does Khmeli Suneli taste like?

Our Georgian spice blend is earthy, with a deep umami flavor and savory herbal notes.

Is Khmeli Suneli spicy?

Khmeli Suneli is very flavorful, but not spicy. To increase or decrease the heat, adjust the cayenne to taste.

Can I buy pre-made Khmeli Suneli spice mix?

You can definitely find pre-made Khmeli Suneli mixes online and I have also come across them at our local Russian grocery store. When choosing a pre-made mix, I recommend looking for something that has marigold and blue fenugreek. Several blends sold in the US leave these important ingredients out.

Can I use regular fenugreek instead of blue fenugreek?

Yes, but regular fenugreek is a bit more bitter and has a stronger flavor. I would start with less and add more to taste.

Is there a substitute for marigold?

There’s really no good substitute for marigold, unfortunately. I highly recommend sourcing the vibrant spice, either ground marigold or marigold petals, for this blend. Note that it is often labeled as saffron, as that is how it’s referred to in the Georgian language.

Small bowl of Khmeli Suneli with spoon holding the aromatic blend.

Georgian recipes

Loving this Khmeli Suneli spice blend? For more Georgian favorites, makes sure to check out these recipes:

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Blend of ground Georgian spices on wooden spoon over spice jar.

Khmeli Suneli Recipe

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  • Author: Brit Kapustina
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1/3 cup
    • Prep Time: 5 minutes
    • Category: Spice Blend
    • Method: Mix
    • Cuisine: Georgian


  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon blue fenugreek
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon ground marigold*
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (or other spicy red chile powder)


  1. Mix together the spices in a small bowl.
  2. Transfer to a jar or airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.


Ground marigold: Ground marigold is often referred to as saffron in the Georgian language, and is sometimes marketed as saffron. True saffron is quite expensive and often sold in threads. Marigold is generally found finely ground or in crushed petal form.

Storage: This Khmeli Suneli spice mix will retain its flavor for up to six months.

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