Trinidadian Mango Habanero Pepper Sauce

With a collision of Indian and West African roots, Trinidadians are a peppery food liking people. When the Guinness Book of Records listed the world's hottest pepper as being from Trinidad & Tobago, we considered it a national badge of honour. For the typical Trini, a meal is not complete unless there is a some heat accompanying it. To ensure that this is so, we marinade and cook our dishes with fresh peppers (usually pimento, habanero or bird peppers). For those incidents when the finished meal still requires some heat, the person eating will add a whole pepper or pepper sauce to his/her plate. Even many of our 'snacks' are spicy hot. Our obsession with pepper is inculcated from childhood. As a rite of passage, adolescents gather to make and communally feast on a spicy fruit concoction called chow (made from mangoes, pineapples, guavas, pommerac, pommecytheres, cocoa and a plethora of whatever tropical fruit is in season). I remember as I child, my older brother giving me a piece of such fruit that had sat baking in the sun to intensify the spicy sting. As if that wasn't wicked enough, he had hidden a piece of pepper in the morsel. I not only ate it but returned for more, my tongue stinging with pain. I refused to let on that I could not handle the heat. When my brother gave me another piece, I felt proud of myself.

I've taken this obsession into adulthood. Like many other Trinis, I've been experimenting with creating my own pepper sauce recipes. Pepper sauces are a great option if you want a dash of heat in your meal but you want to be able to control the intensity.  Furthermore, they are extremely easy to make. In this post, I'm sharing a recipe for a mango habanero sauce. Please note that you can easily adjust the heat and sweetness of the sauce by adding or reducing the number of peppers and mangoes used. Let me know how yours turns out!

15 habanero peppers (use fewer peppers for a milder sauce)
3-4 large full to ripe mangoes (also use more mangoes if you 
   prefer a sweeter milder sauce)
2 kiwis (these were used to add some tartness w/out having to use 
             more lime or vinegar)
1 lime/lemon
3 cloves of garlic
6 stems of green onions
1 onion
1 bunch of chadon beni (also called culantro or oriental     
   cilantro)/about 10-12 leaves 
2 carrots
1 tbsp of salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
1 cup of distilled vinegar
1/4 cup of mustard powder
1/2 cup of water 

*Using gloves, roughly chop peppers, removing the stem/head.
*Remove some of the seeds if you want a very mild sauce. 
*Roughly chop flesh from the mangoes.
*Roughly chop kiwis, onions, carrots and scallion.
*Grate a wedge of lime to obtain lime/lemon zest.
*Place peppers, mango, garlic, carrots, chadon beni, green and 
  regular onions in blender. Place blender on pulse setting until 
  the ingredients are minced or finely chopped.
*Add salt, mustard pepper and lime/lemon zest to the blender.
*Place on pulse setting until the mixture is smoothly blended.
*Transfer the sauce to bottles and refrigerate. 

Be sure to keep your hands away from eyes during the process and wash your hands thoroughly after! 

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