Chilli sauce adds a kick, a punch and some fire to any meal. One of the most popular condiments globally, chilli or hot pepper sauce has numerous health benefits too.
Capsaicin, the active component found in chilli peppers that makes them spicy, is full of Vitamin C. Hot peppers come with high doses of essential minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins, including vitamin C and vitamin A. The antioxidants in hot sauce contain anti-aging properties, and can help to decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
The spicy properties of the chillies in hot sauce have been shown to help beat off the symptoms of colds and flu by easing sinus and nasal congestion, increasing body temperature, and relieving respiratory problems.
Hot sauce may also alleviate aches and pains from sprains and strains. That’s because capsaicin contains anti-inflammatory properties that help speed up recovery and soothe sore muscles.
Chilli sauce is also known to aid healthy weight-loss. Studies have shown that capsaicin can speed metabolism, helping the body to burn calories even faster.
Hot sauce and other spicy foods can promote the production of serotonin and other feel-good hormones.
Around the world, various cuisines will have their own variant of chilli sauce. Here’s a selection of some of the world’s finest chilli sauces.
A fiery chilli paste orginating from Tunisia, harissa is a staple condiment often served with North African dishes including tagine, couscous, and grilled meats and fish.
The spicy paste is made from five main ingredients including dried red chilli pepper, typically more than 85%, garlic, salt, caraway, and coriander. There are many regional variants of harissa and you will find some traditional harissa recipes include ingredients such as cumin, tomatoes, and rose petals. Vegetable oil or olive oil is used for preservation.
Tunisian harissa is often made from the chillies grown around Nabeul and Gabes in Tunisia’s Cap Bon peninsula. Harissa is readily available in supermarkets nowadays but if you want an authentic Tunisian harissa, check for Le Phare du Cap Bon Harissa which comes in a small tin or tube. That said, harissa is relatively easy to make at home yourself.
Sriracha has become a worldwide chilli sensation in recent years thanks to the Huy Fong brand (bottle with the rooster) which is produced in California. The founder, who is of Vietnamese descent, made the original version of sriracha in Gerber baby food jars before immigrating to the US aboard the Taiwanese freighter Huey Fong in 1978 and restarting the business.
This versatile, flavourful chilli sauce is made from chilli pepper paste, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. Although the Huy Fong brand is one of the most widely recognised and most popular, sriracha itself has its roots in Thailand, where a less thick version of the sauce variety is widely used.
Shito is a tasty Ghanian chilli sauce made from chilies, garlic, dried fish, dried shrimps and sunflower oil. It is served as a spicy condiment with rice, fish, meat and vegetable dishes.
Shito is the word for pepper in Ga, a Ghanaian language from Accra, the Ghanaian capital. While the word for pepper is different for each of the Ghanaian native languages, shitor din (black pepper), commonly called ‘shito’, is widely used as the name for the hot black pepper sauce ubiquitous in Ghanaian cuisine. The blend of spices and fish differs between different regions and villages but owes its original recipe to the Ga tribe.
Sambal is a chili sauce, usually made from varieties of chillies, and mixed together with other ingredients such as onion, garlic, ginger, tamarind, soy sauce or shrimp paste.
Originating from Indonesia, sambal is also popular in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore where each country has developed their own variety of the chilli sauce.
Sambal can be served as a condiment with rice, grilled chicken and fish, or add as a stock for curry dishes.
Piri Piri refers to the African bird’s eye chillies found in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. Piri Piri chillies are coarse and spicy. Piri Piri takes its name from Swahili, which translates as pepper pepper.
Piri Piri sauce, popularised by the South African restaurant chain Nando’s, itself originates from Portugal. The recipe, which was said to be invented some 500 years ago, was then introduced to the Portuguese colonies at the time, so places like Mozambique, South Africa and Angola.
Piri Piri sauce contains chilli peppers, lemon juice, oil, citrus peel, garlic, salt and pepper, and herbs such as oregano. It is a great marinade for grilled chicken and also works as a salad dressing.
Hot Pepper Sauce
Originating from the Caribbean, hot pepper sauce is made from various type of chilli peppers, depending on the region, including scotch bonnet, scorpion, habanero, and cayenne. One variety of chilli is then mixed with salt, vinegar, and garlic, mustard and other unique ingredients.
Scotch bonnet chilli peppers, popular in Jamaica, are some of the hottest varities there are. Chili peppers are thought to be originally from Mexico and spread to the Caribbean and rest of the globe during the Columbian Exchange.
The Naga chilli, cultivated in Northeast India and Bangladesh, is one of the hottest known chilli peppers in the world. For the diehard chilli enthusiasts, naga hot sauce is made with naga chillies, salt, vinegar, vegetable oil, paprika and mixed spices.
In recent years a hybrid version of the naga chilli has been cultivated in Dorset, England known to be exceedingly hot.
For those that dare, check out Mr Naga’s Hot Pepper Pickle which comes with its own “Very Hot” sign on the bottle.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com