Aji, Ecuador’s Secret Sauce

Aji, Ecuador’s Secret Sauce

The Ecuadorians know that chilli is good for you. They’ve always known. That’s why some of the oldest people in the world live there (Vilcabamba). It’s either down to the water, close proximity to the rainforests or its down to the amount of Aji they eat on a daily basis.

Hot chilli peppers are said to protect the stomach lining. They prevent the gastric damage associated with anti-inflammatory painkillers. They are high in calcium and vitamins A and C, help prevent diabetes and boost metabolism. They may also have some ability to prevent cancer.

Aji was probably my most favourite thing about living in Ecuador. This spicy, zesty, flavourful sauce was to be found in small pots or condiment dishes on every table, be it private of public, up and down the country. Once you taste it, you will understand why.

Made with hot chilli peppers, garlic, lemon or lime and cilantro, it is bursting with healthy goodness. So, chuck out your ketchup and make a jar of this, it goes with just about every meal and puts a zing in your zip and a kick in your step, every time.

Ingredients needed

  • 4 aji peppers or hot peppers
  • ½ bunch of cilantro (stems and leaves)
  • 4 tomatoes or Tomate de Arbol a.k.a. Tree Tomatoes
  • ½ cup of water
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Juice from ½ lime or lemon
  • 3 tbs finely chopped white onion (scallions can also be used)


  1. Start off by taking the tomate de arboles or tomatoes and boil them for about ten minutes to make them soft. Then, drain the water and let them cool for a minute or two. Afterwards, peel off the skin off and chuck the lot – the tomatoes, hot peppers, cilantro, water, garlic cloves and lime juice – into a blender or food processor and blend well until nicely chopped and mixed.
  2. Add the chopped white onions or scallions and salt and pepper to taste.

Now cook up some Ecuadorian food, perhaps some churrasco, or Arroz con Pollo, Seco de polloChaulafan de polloArroz con camarones or Fritada de chancho and apply liberally. Buon appetito!

photo credit: 4p. Blogspot.com 

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