I recall my mom making something similar as a young fella and being warned that I/we should not touch it due to the high pepper content. Like everything your parents didn’t want you to do.. you did. The overwhelming heat was simply unbearable as a youth and I did learn my lesson, however that was the start of my love affair with extremely hot peppers and sauces made from such peppers.
Note: This is not like other chokas you’ll find on here that’s part of a meal. This pepper choka is more of a pepper sauce which is added on the side (in very small quantities) to add a bit of flair to any dish as you would normally use hot sauce. I just love this as a side when I’m enjoying a steaming hot plate of chicken pelau.
12-14 green (but mature) habanero or scotch bonnet peppers.
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 medoum onion sliced thin
1/2 head of garlic (about 5 cloves)
* If you can’t source habanero or scotch bonet peppers or maybe the heat is too much for you, feel free to use any pepper with a bit of heat to them.
TIP: I highly recommend that you roast your peppers in an outdoor grill, since while roasting it will give out a very strong peppery scent that can overwhelm your home and even cause you to cough. If you’ve ever allowed water to run onto a plate with hotsauce, you’ll know what I mean when I say it will choke you and cause you to cough.
This is one of the simplest recipes you’ll find on here. Start by getting half a head of garlic and using a sharp knife, cut the end off (I’ll explain why later) Then using foil wrap, competely enclose the garlic (you’ll notice that I didn’t completely enclose mine in tin foil, but that was a mistake) and place it away from direct heat on the grill. Then place the peppers onto the grill on low to medium flame/heat.
Allow the peppers to roast/grill for about 15-20 minutes and be sure to turn them often so each side gets in contact with the grill and flames. You’re trying to char the skin as it gives the pepper a smoky flavour and somehow intensifies the heat of the pepper.
Allow the garlic to roast for about 25 minutes or so then remove. Remember how I asked you to cut the tips of the garlic (see pics above)? Now, with the cut tips facing a small bowl, gently squeeze the head of garlic (remember to allow it to cool a bit first), it should easily squirt our the lovely roasted flesh of the garlic. In the same bowl place the salt and roasted peppers. Remember to remove the stems from the pepper first. Then using a masher or in my case a “pounder” crush everything into a chunky paste. This is meant to be rustic, so don’t worry about crushing everything uniformly.
The next step is to place the thinly sliced onions on top of the now crushed peppers and garlic, then heat the oil on medium to high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, gently pour it over the onions and mix thoroughly. You’re done!
Tip! : Be sure to use a pair of disposable latex gloves (or any water proof gloves) when handling the hot peppers. The oil that’s released can and will irritate your skin.
Tip! : By roasting the garlic you’ll find that it gets a bit sweet and loses some of the true “garlicky” taste. If you looking for a more traditional pepper choka, don’t roast the garlic but only use about 2-3 crushed cloves.
Final Tip! Yes, you can use a food processor instead of pounding away as I did. But you’ll need to add a couple tablespoons of oil when processing the roasted peppers, garlic and salt. Then pour it into a bowl before adding the sliced onions and pouring the heated oil. Remember to keep you face/nose away from the container if you used a food processor. The smell will be VERY peppery.
Again, I must warn you that this is incredibly hot and should be used in moderation. This can be made and left out for a couple days, then store in a covered contained in the fridge. However there are 2 things you must know.. 1. When using from the fridge I recommend that you heat it in the microwave before serving to bring it back to it’s original state. 2. When stored in the fridge you will find that it will lose some of it’s heat. I’m not sure why this happens, but from experience I know it does.
So what do you think my mom said when I went against her wish and took some of the pepper choka she made? “Who doh hear does feel”! In typical Caribbean parenting way.