Wherever you are in the world as you tuck into your meal, you will always encounter a condiment or two. These are sauces or pastes that you can add to your meal, or even use a dipping tool. The most popular condiments from around the globe need no introduction and I’ve listed 12 of my favourites below!
Sambal, from Indonesia. Sambal is sauce typically made from a variety of chili peppers and secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars.
Try it with fish dishes (ikan bakar), or even coat your meat with it (ayam goreng)! There is simply no right or wrong way to enjoy sambal!
Guacamole, from Mexico. Guacamole is an avocado-based dip first created by the Aztecs in what is now Mexico. Some recipes call for tomato, onion, garlic, lemon or lime juice, chili or cayenne pepper, basil, or even jalapeños.
Try it in large quantities in your burrito or as a side dish to a plate/bowl of nachos.
Chutney, originally from India. Chutney is a side dish in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent that can vary from a tomato relish to a ground peanut garnish or a yoghurt, cucumber and mint dip.
Try it inside a dosa or a chapati (with some saffron and cardamom) and sit back and be enchanted by the taste sensation!
Chakalaka, from South Africa. Chakalaka is a vegetable relish, usually spicy, that is traditionally served with bread, stews, or curries. To balance its fiery flavour, it is sometimes served with amasi (thick sour milk). Chakalaka may have originated in the townships of Johannesburg
Why not enjoy your Chakalaka inside a Gatsby?
Gochujang, from South Korea. It is a savoury, spicy, and pungent fermented condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in large earthen pots that are kept outdoors.
Try gochujang with any traditional dish, but perhaps coat your bulgogi or galbi in it before grilling.
Chimichurri, Argentina. This is the de facto number one condiment in Argentina and is used on almost everything – and in amazing quantities! It is made with mint and parsley and visually is similar to mint sauce from the UK.
Try it with asado and meats of all shapes and sizes. If the waiter doesn’t give you enough, ask for more! All Argentine people will demand it!
Harissa, originally from Tunisia. Harissa is a North African hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, or caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil for preservation.
The best way to enjoy is to use as a side dish to bread or with meat/rice dishes (machboos).
Hoisin, originally from China. Hoisin sauce is a thick, pungent sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fries, or as dipping sauce. It is darkly coloured in appearance and sweet and salty in taste. Although regional variants exist, hoisin sauce usually includes soy beans, red chillies and garlic.
I think everyone knows that the best way to maximise your sensation of hoisin sauce is to use it to generously coat duck!
Mustard, from England. Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of a mustard plant. Commonly paired with meats and cheeses, mustard is a popular addition to sandwiches, salads, steaks, tofu, hamburgers, corn dogs, and hot dogs. It is also used as an ingredient in many dressings, glazes, sauces, soups, and marinades.
A very versatile condiment, mustard could be best enjoyed on beef dishes to provide some extra hotness.
Nước chấm, from Vietnam. This is actually a generic name for Vietnamese “dipping sauces” that are served quite frequently as condiments. They can be a sweet, sour, salty, savoury and/or spicy sauce.
The best way to experience nuoc cham is to use it as a dip for classic Vietnamese spring rolls.
Wasabi, from Japan. Sometimes called “Japanese Horseradish”, the stem of the wasabi plant is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong pungency, producing vapours that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue.
This hot condiment from Japan is best used on sushi and other fishy snacks, but I find yaki imo and wasabi also goes well!
Hummus is an Egyptian spread made from mashed chickpeas and blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Today, it is popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The facts is, Hummus tastes great with everything, but especially as a simple dip for al jabab bread or khubz. A thick layer of hummus over a Manakeesh pizza is also a mouth-watering prospect!
Are there any of your favourite condiments that I have forgotten to list here? Let me know so I can add them in later!