A cold winter day that makes you curl under a blanket and not do anything, needs a very spicy treatment to make you get up and moving. The sesame-bell pepper sauce is tailor made for days like these, especially when savored along with steaming dumpling or a roti. This ones a recipe that was kindly passed onto me by a street food vendor at a Himalayan Festival up in Berkeley, California. That’s what makes it so special and deserves to be passed along. I have been a big fan of a form of Nepalese dumplings called “Momo” for a long time. I have had it with different types of sauces but nothing came closer to the sauce that the Nepalese vendors were serving in that festival, I wonder the fact that very friendly Nepalese men and women were proudly serving their native dish had anything to do with it!! As I finished gulping 3 plates of momos I peeked into the tent where the momos were being made and came a voice from the side, “you like it? ” standing there was a middle aged man with a broad smile. Of course! who doesn’t like momos that too with that spicy orange red sauce?? huh!!! By then I had already figured how momos are usually made so, I was more interested in figuring out how the sauce is made & did not hesitate to take the conversation forward! The result was a very animated description of the recipe that has since become my priced possession, so much so that, I decided to go for a separate post instead of sticking it along with momo recipe. This post is dedicated to the friendly street vendor who did not think he needs to preserve his “signature” recipe.
The recipe is originally called “Momo Achar”, with reference to the dish it is eaten with. However, I have tried this with few other dishes and it goes very well. I have found several variations of the ingredients online, however, in my opinion, the magic lies in the sesame seeds, tomatoes & bell pepper.
Tomatoes – 1
Bell Pepper – 1 (tastes better with red bell pepper)
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Garlic – 3 to 4 cloves
Dried red chillies – 5 to 6
Sesame seeds – 4 teaspoon
Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
Soy Sauce – 1 table spoon
Cilantro – 1 cup
lemon juice – 1 table spoon (optional)
Oil – 2 teaspoons
Salt to taste
In a small pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil and add sesame seeds to it and saute it for a minute. Add dry chillies let it roast, after another minute, add turmeric, chopped ginger and garlic. After minute add cut tomatoes and bell pepper to the mix and saute for a 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
It is very interesting to see how every regional food is so tightly coupled with the climatic conditions of the region. It is not just the concoction or red chillies, garlic and ginger that makes this a spicy dish. A rather mild tasting sesame seed is known to increase the body heat which is well suited for the cold region this sauce originates from.
Once the mixture cools down, move the roasted mixture to a blender, add cilantro, soy sauce, salt and lemon juice and grind it to a fine paste, spicy & creamy sauce is ready.
Click here to learn how to make Nepalese Momo to go with the sauce!