Recently I’ve been struggling with food products labelled as ‘hot’. It seems that, while there’s the Scoville scale for measuring the piquancy of a chilli pepper, there’s little uniformity in how hot a product has to be for a company to attribute it with a warning.
After weeks seriously questioning my mouths seeming insensitivity to spice, one meal liberally dolloped with Hot Chipotle Sauce from the Capsicana Chilli Co has reassured me that the problem may not be so much with my tastebuds than some people’s questionable understanding of what is actually ‘hot’. Because this sauce is hot. Eye-watering, lip-burning heat that smacks you in the face and sizzles all the way down. What’s surprising, and brilliant, is that is tastes absolutely delicious too.
Company founder, Ben, first started the Capsicana Chilli Co after a lifetime obsession with bombay mix. Today this bunch of ‘chilli fanatics and all round lovers of World Food’ have thankfully elevated this questionable 70s snack into a gourmet range of sauces, spices, whole chillies and Mexican recipe kits – with enough heat to bring any hardened chilli-lover to tears.
With the spice box firmly ticked, the company is free to focus on flavour and they’re keen for ‘everyone to enjoy the flavours of chillies and think of them as something more than that which imparts heat.’ Sauces are ranked 1- 5 on a chilli scale, with the mild Burrito sauce (ranked one chilli) as rich and deep as its hotter counterparts. Often with spicy foods the smell and almost bitterness of fresh chillies can be overwhelming but, somehow, these sauces have a gradual heat that’s never unpleasant and are just as moreish as a table condiment as they are a marinade or cooking ingredient. Handmade from scratch with no artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives, the fact they’re also gluten free and vegan is just another great tick-in-the-box.
At first I must admit to being lazy in my taste-testing and simply slopping the sauce onto anything and everything I was eating. However, by night three of pasta and burrito sauce and chicken a la chipotle the boyfriend stepped up to the plate with an all-out Mexican feast of beef and kidney bean chilli, tortillas and rice with a pinch of Ancho Poblano powder. It’s difficult to credit the result to any individual Capsicana sauce or spice as we were indiscriminate in our additions, but OH GOD it was good. Rich, earthy and comforting with a deep smokiness that slowly builds into a gentle fire of the senses.
Made from dried Poblano chillies originating from the mountainous Mexican state of Pueblo, the layers of flavour in the Ancho Poblano powder are like no other I have ever encountered with a pleasing sweetness that’s really quite addictive. Ancho Poblanos are one of the three key chillies used to make Mexico’s famous Mole sauce (the others are Mulato and Pasilla) and the Capsicana Company recommend them as ‘a flavoursome alternative to regular chilli powder’. This Mole sauce can often average at over 20 ingredients with the common additions of cumin, cloves, anise, dried fruits and even chocolate making it an almost Christmassy affair, the Ancho Poblano alone distinctly raisin-like to smell and taste.
Changing the way people think about chillies is no mean feat and it’s reassuring to find a company that can rival the heat of Mr Vikkis, while still imparting all the taste and moreish flavour of your everyday table sauce. Prices are reasonable (around £3.95 for a 150ml bottle) and with free P&P on all orders over £30, there’s no better time or way to warm up for winter.