I should probably start this hot pepper sauce article with an apology.
Perhaps, I should apologize to the person who told me there was no need for yet another piman story on Tchakayiti. If I take her comments into account, this also means I should consider doing the same with you, dear readers. I should apologize for being repetitive.
Yet, I cannot say I am sorry. I simply cannot.
While this article may feature yet another fiery-hot pepper sauce recipe, this one is no ordinary recipe. It is one I need to share. It has a history. It has a past. It is filled with memories that are dear to my heart.
Preparing this jar and writing about it fills me with emotions. It brings back souvenirs from my childhood. It takes me to a dinner table in the same dimly lit dining room from my tchaka story.
A red or orange lid jar was set on that table every day at dinnertime. I’m pretty sure its content often found its way into a tchaka filled bowl, among other preparations. I can picture the liquid floating atop a tchaka, bouillon or soup. I can also see it being poured over either meat or red beans and rice.
Colorful red, orange or green hot peppers that spread a strong and tantalizing aroma in the air once opened filled these jars . They added aromas and flavors to the dishes served at that family table.
For a long time, I have longed to see another one of those jars. But I never really took it upon myself to prepare one. I simply couldn’t.
But two weeks ago, I decided to give it a shot. When I couldn’t fully agree with my mom’s preparation steps, she suggested I call my aunt. And that is exactly what I did. Talking to them helped me come up with the recipe below. I stitched their instructions together, and finally took the plunge. I prepared this sour orange infused pepper sauce hoping that it matches the one from my memory.
While the flavors may not be exactly the same as the ones from my childhood – my mom and aunt are not sure how many ingredients used to go in there – the sight of those peppers macerating in that jar bring me joy. So does their aroma.
Though it may not be her exact recipe, this jar is an attempt to remake my grandmother’s ‘sauce piquante.’
So yes, like I said earlier, this jar of piment is no ordinary pepper jar. This jar is filled with memories of my cordon bleu, memories of my grandmother.
And I will not apologize for bringing it to life and sharing it on this blog.
The proportions for this recipe will vary with the amount of hot peppers you have at hand and the size of your jar. As such, I do not indicate proportions. A right rule of thumb is simply that every single pepper should be covered with the salty sour orange mixture.
The longer the peppers macerate, the bolder the flavors will be. Please note that over time, it is possible that a thin white layer form on top of the mixture. According to my aunt, a sunbath will help solve the issue.
- Hot peppers (Habanero, Scotch bonnet or Piment bouc)
- Black peppercorn
- Chives with bulb
- Coarse salt
- Sour orange juice (also called bitter oranges)
- Cut the peppers in half
- Chop the garlic, shallots and chives (make sure to also use the bulb)
- Arrange all the chopped ingredients in a jar
- Boil the sour oranges with some coarse salt
- Pour the warm liquid over the ingredients
- Close the jar tightly and let macerate.