This super versatile African pepper sauce uses just four ingredients and comes together in under 30 minutes! Use as pasta sauce, or salsa-style dip!
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Pepper sauce was one of the first things I learned to make when I started dating my boyfriend. This African pepper sauce has bell peppers, tomatoes, habanero peppers and onions - and parboiled to a sauce like consistency. Called Ata Bin Bo, this pepper sauce forms the base of almost all the spicy dishes in Nigeria.
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Four ingredients and 30 minutes: This recipe uses easily available ingredients and comes together in no time!
- Super versatile: I love using this as a base for pasta (e.g. my spicy alfredo sauce) or for my favorite Nigerian Jollof rice, or as fiery salsa replacement!
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and habanero peppers for this recipe!
📖 How do you make African pepper sauce?
Honestly, it's super simple - remove the stem and seeds, and chop four red bell peppers and a couple of habanero peppers (depending on your spice tolerance). Add a couple of tomatoes and half an onion and blend them with ¼ cup of water. Parboil this on low heat for about 20-30 minutes and you're done!
Is the sauce super spicy? What if I want to tone it down?
What I love about this African pepper sauce is that, despite it's name, it's actually super versatile. The blend that I used would probably end up being somewhere between medium and hot on a spicy scale. But it's so easy to adjust that to your preference.
- To make it it spicier (and more true to the Nigerian pepper sauce) add more habanero peppers (or the original, Scotch Bonnet pepper if you get that in your area).
- If you want to make a milder but still have a kick, just add one habanero
- Finally, if you love the taste, but don't want it to be spicy, just use bell peppers!
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
The possibilities are endless! I wrote a long post about making Nigerian jollof rice a while ago. I used the Nigerian version of the pepper sauce (with an extra habanero) as the base for that recipe. I've made a terrific alfredo with this sauce!
African Pepper Sauce
- 4 red bell peppers
- 3 habanero peppers
- 3 Roma tomatoes
- ½ yellow onion
- ½ cup water , substitute with oil for the fried version of sauce
- Remove the stems and remove the seeds of the bell peppers. Chop into quarters. Remove the stem of the habanero peppers. Add to a blender or food processor with 3 tomatoes, half a yellow onion, and either ½ cup of water or oil (depending on the type of sauce you want).
- Blend or pulse to your desired consistency. Traditionally, the sauce is a bit coarse, so I pulse for a minute. If you want it smoother, you can also just blend it.
- Transfer to a medium pot, and simmer on a low-medium flame for about 20-30 minutes. If you used oil, it will float to the top when its done cooking. If you just used water, the sauce will reduce by half to the desired consistency.
- Turn off the stove when all the water has evaporated - store in an air tight container in a fridge and use for up to a week! If you want to store for longer, make sure to top off the sauce with oil so it avoids all contact with air.
- If you're just using water, the sauce is done when the top starts forming large bubbles that pop - this means that most of the water has evaporated. If you use oil, that will float to the top.
- I keep my sauce seasoning free so it can take on flavors best suited to the dish I make with the sauce (e.g. more bold curry-type flavors for jollof rice, or more Italian flavors for pasta) - you're welcome to add seasoning to the sauce after it parboils!
- You can store the sauce in the fridge for up to a week regardless of whether you use water or oil in the base. If you want to store it for longer, I suggest using oil, and topping off the container with a thin layer of oil to make sure it avoids all contact with air. This way, it'll last 2-3 weeks. You can also freeze this sauce for up to 4 to 6 months!
Note: This recipe was originally published on February 22, 2020 and updated on January 31, 2021 with some additional notes and helpful tips.