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A Saucy Journey

Some of the most famous culinary dishes in the world are made with sauces without them, the dish wouldnt exist. For example, Eggs Benedict wouldn't be Eggs Benedict without the Hollandaise sauce, and the classic lasagna and moussaka dishes wouldn't be the same without the renowned bchamel sauce. But a sauce doesn't just have to be thick and creamy; it can also be spicy like the sassy Mexican salsas and pesto sauces.

IMHO, a sauce is as fundamental to great cuisine as is the preparation. So I decided to take you on a cyber trip around the world to visit a few countries to discover some of the unique sauces used in cooking.

In Argentina, chimichurri sauce is always served as a side dish to grilled meat. This tangy sauce is made from chopped parsley, garlic,olive oil, oregano, and white or redvinegar -- a red version is made with tomatoes and red bell peppers. All throughout South America, chimichurri is also enjoyed as a dipping sauce for empanadas, and is used as a marinade for meats. Try making a side dish using our Whole Spice chimichurri blend and enjoy a taste of Argentina.

Lets take off for North Africa, specifically Morocco, where we enjoy their classic charmoula sauce that is also used as a marinade for fish or any seafood dishes. There are other versions of charmoula in North Africa that require different spices, but in most cases, the two main ingredients are coriander and garlic. The Moroccan version is made with dried parsley, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. I like to add a little harissa spice to the charmoula sauce as a marinade for fish or for stir-frying vegetables. Serve it over fluffy couscous or rice, and you have a perfect Moroccan meal.

Next discovery on the African continent, is the popular peri peri (or piri piri), which is a chili based sauce mostly used as a seasoning or marinade for meat, especially chicken. It is made from crushed chilies, citrus peel, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, lemon juice, bay leaves, basil, oregano, paprika, pimiento, and tarragon. Even though peri peri's origins are from Portugal, the sauce is mostly prevalent in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa. And if you haven't already heard of the famous Nandos restaurants, just know that his claim to fame is the renowned flame-grilled peri peri chicken which is basted in the eponymous sauce.

Next, we travel across the Middle East to Israel where the famous spicy zhug sauce is considered a household staple in Israeli cooking. Zhug originated in the Middle East and was brought over to Israel by the Yemenite Jewish people. This incredible sauce is made from fresh hot peppers seasoned with coriander, garlic and various spices. Zhug is also used in the same manner as pesto, and is particularly good if spread on flatbread or as a relish for kebabs. We add it as an ingredient to spice up soups. At Whole Spice we have the zhug blend which is perfect on just about any food that needs a little zest.

Enroute to Eastern Europe, we visit Macedonia, where we discover pinjur, which is a mild earthy sauce that is used as a topping or a cooking ingredient. Pinjur is made from eggplant mixed with herbs, garlic, olive oil, and sometimes roasted peppers, chopped nuts and herbs are added as well. Pinjur is often served as a condiment or used as a spread for breads and sandwiches. Additional uses for pinjur can be as a zesty sauce on pasta or rice, or added to cooked vegetables, poultry, stews, and casseroles.

Eastbound we arrive in India a land famous for its great curried sauce dishes specifically the Chicken Tikka Masala, which is Britain's national dish and rightfully so! Tikka means bits or pieces, and that is what this signature dish is pieces of chicken that are marinated in a sauce made from yoghurt, red chilies, garlic and ginger paste, coriander leaves, lemon juice, and garam masala flour, and then grilled on skewers. The tender meat is saturated with a lovely smoked flavor, and is usually served with naan bread.

I hope that this saucy journey provided you with a little more knowledge about the different kinds of sauces that are used in creating signature dishes. Why not create your own amazing sauce at home by whipping up a zesty dish with chimchurri or charmoula sauce?

Click on this link for our recipe in making zhug paste or zhug dips. Below is my own version for making Chicken Tikka Masala that I think you will love.


Chicken Tikka Masala click on link