My love of chillies was born as a 9-year-old on holiday in Botswana. Most days we fished for bream off the banks of the mighty Chobe river & would bring our catch to the matriarch of an Indian family we befriended at the lodge. While my brother & sister played with her kids I was drawn to the smells & sounds of her cooking as she prepared delicious fish curries, pickled fish, & marinated fish for our braais (BBQs) for our families to share. Every meal she made was packed with spice & chilli & those weeks spent eating her food got me hooked.
Ever since then chillies have been a constant feature for me & I have tinkered with hot sauce recipes for decades.
I trained as a chef in a fine dining restaurant in Johannesburg & became a saucier - the chef that makes all the sauces, stocks, & dressings. This gave me a solid understanding of how to extract a particular flavour from ingredients, how to pair flavours & achieve textures & colours without using artificial additives.
FERMENTING: WHAT & WHY?
A few years ago, I discovered the world of fermentation & was blown away by the complexity of flavour that is achieved through such an ancient & relatively simple practice.
I also realised it was the key to a lifelong bugbear - the overuse of vinegar in hot sauces. I don’t dislike vinegar, there are always a few different bottles in the cupboard for different uses, but I find it overpowers the deep & subtle flavours of a chilli pepper. If you read the ingredients, you’ll see it is used heavily in almost every bottle of hot sauce on the planet.
The fermentation process I use is lacto-fermentation, so called because of the lactic acid-producing bacteria that drive it. These beneficial bacteria are present on & in all fruit & vegetables & they thrive in oxygen-free, salty environments. They eat the natural plant sugars & convert them into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative, more rounded & mellow than vinegar. It is made from the sugars of all the ingredients in the hot sauce & is therefore an integral part of the recipe, rather than an additional & separate ingredient as is the case with vinegar.
For too long, properly made, nutritionally dense foods have taken a back seat to cheaper, processed pulp churned out by factories. But now an explosion of research into the role our microbiome plays in boosting our immune system & even controlling our mood & behaviour means that naturally fermented veg are back in our daily diets.
WHO’S MUTI FOR?
From my market stall customers of all ages looking to boost their immune system, to chilli fanatics all over the country keen to add a kick to their dishes. From those seeking a purely plant-based kimchi, to Eastern Europeans missing grandma's home-made sauerkraut & those busy working folk looking for a speedy fix of daily veg & nutrients; Muti has you covered.
Simple, fresh ingredients turned delicious & nutritious.