Tunisia is the only Mediterranean country whose hot sauces can be measured on a seismic counter! When the Ottoman Turks returned from the East, they brought back Goan red pepper, which they distributed throughout their empire. From the Balkans to North Africa, wherever pepper seeds grew well, the resulting red pepper powders—both hot and sweet— became famous: the paprika of Hungary; the bouhka of northern Greece; the flavorful red pepper of Aleppo in Syria; the Maras of southeastern Turkey; the hot and hotter peppers of Nabeul and Gabes in Tunisia. These Tunisian hot red peppers are not unlike our easily available New Mexican and dried guajillo chile peppers. The chile sauces prepared from Tunisian peppers are important ingredients in Tunisian cuisine, packed and kept under olive oil so as to be always close at hand.
Here are recipes for three excellent Tunisian hot red chile sauces, which can be diluted by the addition of water, olive oil, and a drop of lemon juice.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.