Fire Report: Four Hot Sauces Worth Trying
It will take at least another month for Sriracha or, according to some people, the real deal to be readily available in Mumbai. Until then, hot sauce fanatics in the city can try out four locally-made spicy condiments. They range from the lethally pungent to the milder and more accessible, and retail for a third of the price of the international brand.
Pico’s Bhut Jolokia Hot Sauce
Among the world’s most fearsome chillies – the seventh spiciest of all, in fact – bhut jolokia (literally, ghost pepper) has been known to bring grown men to their knees. For those who have no prior knowledge of the Naga pepper, food company Pico has provided a picture of a hooded ghost with burning red eyes on the label of its bottle to suggest you’re handling something dangerous. Exercise caution as you uncap the sauce, which lets off fumes so pungent that they could probably singe a few nostril hairs if held too close to the nose. We dabbed a dot of the sauce on to a glove-clad finger tip (like you would vermillion in a temple) and had a taste that gave us a coughing fit. The vapours from the chilli impact the throat first, after which you feel the burn on the lips and tongue. Pico’s incendiary sauce needs tempering; it’s best to avoid using it as a dip or condiment. Add a micro drop of the deep brown sauce to a marinade or dressing and you’ll still be able to taste the chilli.
Price: Rs99 for 100ml. Buy it here and here.
Sprig Bhut Jolokia
Sprig’s bhut jolokia sauce is elegantly packaged in a slim finger-like bottle with a slickly designed label, which comes with this fine print warning: “Use extreme caution when trying this smoky, fire-laden hot sauce and keep a glass of milk within easy reach just in case.” Their bhut jolokia is intensely smoky on the nose and you can feel the full impact of the chilli on the tip of the tongue and the lips. The tingling lasts for a couple of minutes, but the throat is thankfully spared the blast of heat. As with Pico’s sauce, use this fiery condiment one drop at a time, to make your own chilli butter or to impart smokiness and spice to meat, eggs or a serving of bland potato mash.
Price: Rs299 for 100ml. Buy it here and here.
Chib’s Multi-Purpose Red Chilli Sauce
The red chilli is one among a three-sauce range produced by Nikhil Chib, founder and chef at Busago, the South-East Asian restaurant chain. The label comes with a recommendation – that you use it in all kinds of food – rather than a warning related to the level of heat in the sauce. The liquid stippled with red chilli seeds is deceptively sweet at first lick. After a few seconds, you feel its mild burn at the back of the tongue. You’ll find variants of this versatile sauce, offered as a dipping condiment, at most South-East Asian restaurants. Chib’s red sauce will probably rank poorly on the Scoville scale, but you can generously apply it on everything from salads and stir-fries to toasties and chaat.
Price: Rs100 for 100ml. Buy it here.
The Bao Haus Co. Hot Sauce
Colaba-based delivery kitchen The Bao Haus Co., which specialises in baos with inventive fillings, provides a mini container of house-made Sriracha-type chilli sauce with all their sandwiches. The hot sauce is the colour and texture of a Bloody Mary. Made with Bhavnagri chillis, the sauce is mildly bitter as they also employ the chilli tops (the green stem), and has the tangy zing of Tabasco imparted from the vinegar in the recipe. Siddharth Somaiya, founder and chef at The Bao Haus Co., believes that bitter is a welcome taste. His hot sauce is not quite as searing as Pico’s or Sprig’s, but adds the requisite amount of spice to their buns that balance sweet and savoury flavours well. Somaiya has plans to bottle and retail the sauce soon. For now, like us, you can collect the containers he sends with every bao order and use them to add pep to homemade sandwiches.
Price: Free with every order. The Bao Haus Co. operates from Colaba to Girgaum Chowpatty. Open daily, from noon to 3pm and from 5pm to 11pm. To place an order, call 022 2204 3446.