Looking for a new flavor profile to “spice up” your next meal? Look no further than the condiment aisle of your supermarket—or international market—for tantalizing combinations of sweet, sour, spicy, and umami. Foodies are becoming more and more aware of the novel and delicious flavors of ethnic cuisines, and adding a dash of pepper sauce, relish, vinegar, or other condiments is an easy and affordable way to lend a kick to your favorite dish. Today, we’ll take a closer look at 5 exotic condiments to try on your next home-cooked dish!
- Tkemali—A staple in its home country of Georgia, Tkemali is a tangy, spicy sauce made from sour plums. Its aromatic qualities are thanks to garlic, dill, chili powder, and coriander. Try it as a savory addition to grilled meat or vegetables or hearty roasted potatoes.
- Banana Ketchup—What do you do when you enjoy ketchup but your country suffers a dearth of tomatoes? For Filipinos, the answer was simple: use what you have, which is an abundance of bananas. While you can use this sweet sauce (known commercially as Jufran Banana Sauce) as a tomato ketchup substitute on a variety of dishes, the popular preparation in the Philippines is to sauce some spaghetti and toss in cut-up hot dogs.
- Harissa—As American foodies continue to uncover more culinary gems from the Middle East and North Africa, we’ll see bold harissa show up as a show-stopping flavor enhancer. Use this garlicky chile paste (infused with herbs and spices like mint, coriander, caraway, and cumin) as a rub for grilled meats and vegetables or incorporate it into familiar favorites like hummus or savory yogurt.
- Ajvar—People living in the Balkans enjoy this mixture of roasted red bell peppers, eggplant, and hot peppers (made even richer by the addition of vinegar and garlic) in the cooler months after a substantial autumn crop of peppers. Serbians and Macedonians stock up on jars of this popular relish to enjoy throughout the winter spread onto bread or as a tasty vegetarian dip.
- Kecap Manis—If you’re looking for a more complex blend of flavors in your Asian/Pacific Islands cuisine, swap out your ordinary soy sauce for kecap manis, a sweet, molasses-like sauce infused with star anise, garlic, and palm sugar native to Indonesia. Try it as a marinade for grilled meats or in a plethora of traditional Indonesian specialties.
Sometimes discovering your new favorite dish just comes down to trying a new condiment! Go explore these delightful global flavors popular the world over. Who knows? You might just find your new go-to sauce.
Happy Foodie Friday!
And, of course, for something a little weird…
…and, in this case, highly entertaining. Check out this episode of the YouTube show “Good Mythical Morning” to see how hosts Rhett and Link try some of the above exotic condiments—and others—in a daring and darts-throwing taste test.