Nepali Hot Sauce

Makes 2/3 cup

If you prefer an exceptionally spicy sauce, use 3 teaspoons of the crumbled dried chiles. For a medium-hot sauce, use 2 teaspoons.


  • 2 plum tomatoes (6 ounces)

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons crumbled dried red chiles

  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic (about 2 large cloves)

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh ginger

  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

  • ½ teaspoon rice vinegar


  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add tomatoes, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain, and let cool slightly. Squeeze juice and seeds from tomatoes over a small bowl, and reserve. Coarsely chop tomato flesh.

  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin and chiles, and cook until chiles darken and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and salt, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in reserved tomato juice and seeds, and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly.

  3. Puree mixture with the cilantro in a food processor until smooth. Add vinegar and more salt if desired. Sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks; bring to room temperature before serving.

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