In My Larder - Red Pepper Base Sauce

Funke Koleosho's Red Pepper Base Sauce

If you are really serious about Nigerian cooking, then you must know how to make the Red Pepper base Sauce. It is used in a lot of Nigerian dishes/recipes. And to take it a step further, if you wish to cut the hassle out of cooking Nigerian dishes, you must always have some Red Pepper Base Sauce somewhere in your larder or freezer. It is unbelievable how it can cut down the amount of time spent in the kitchen.

I grew up watching my mum spend hours on end cooking different traditional dishes usually almost with the same starting ingredients, fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and chillies. Because the ingredients are basically the same most of the time, she devised a method, (which I believe a lot of other Nigerian mums did) of pre-cooking a base sauce which can later be used to make dishes like jollof rice, jollof beans, mashed yam (asaro) meat stews, etc. Till this day, I have used this method ever since and I can testify to how simple it makes your cooking and also how shortened it can make cooking time.

Create your signature red pepper base sauce. Vary ingredients and add all the wonderful herbs and spices that you like. Make a large batch perhaps once or twice a month, depending on how large your family is, then discover how much time you save slaving in the kitchen! Get started by using my recipe guide below...

What you need
  • 1-2 very large red sweet peppers, remove stalk & seeds. Cut into quarters, wash (you can use more or less. the more used the thicker your sauce)
  • 1 small (yellow) scotch bonnet, remove seeds (optional)
  • 1-2 cups good quality stock (learn how to make home-made stock here)
  • 6-8 medium fresh tomatoes (or 2 400g cans of peeled plum tomatoes)
  • 1 medium size onion, peel and cut into quarters 
  • 100m1-150ml vegetable, coconut or blended olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crush
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger

What to do
  1. Place the tomatoes, peppers, onion and scotch bonnet (if using), garlic and ginger, in the blender and blend till smooth. Add some water to aid blending.
  2. Heat oil in a sauce pan, add the thyme, allow to sizzle little then add the blend. 
  3. Add the stock, then add the curry powder if using and stir. Add some water, (about 2 cups, depending on the amount of stock you have used.) Allow to cook for 10 minutes under high heat then turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes to reduce the sauce down. Its essential for the sauce to reduce down to create a good thickness and consistency.
  4. You may also add your preferred additional seasoning or bouillon cubes to enhance taste. Stir in well and allow sauce to simmer for a few more minutes. Taste for salt.  Store in plastic containers and freeze until needed.
  5. You can use portion of this sauce to form the base for most Nigerian dishes. It saves lots of time and effort too.

Stock up on a good cook's cheat ingredient such as Molli's Jollof Cooking Sauce (produced specifically for creating Nigerian style dishes with minimum effort!

Molli's Jollof Cooking Sauce
Molli"Using a cheat ingredient in the kitchen certainly doesn't mean any reduction in flavour or quality of the finished dish: all it does is free your time up by using a brilliant shop-bought ingredient"....Delia Smith

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