|AJ's Mango Habanero 'Masterspice'|
I like things spicy. Real spicy. Unfortunately, most foods and sauces labeled as such fall underwhelmingly flat, aimed at a country with a proclivity for impossibly bland tastes. I'm looking at YOU, Taco Bell 'Fire' Sauce. And Tabasco doesn't even scratch the surface, although I do at times appreciate its vinegary essence. Conversely, the few hot sauces out there that do deliver on the promise of their label often fail to bring any meaningful medley of flavors to the palate.
Why does it seem as though I can't have my cake super hot and eat it too?
Spicemaster and entrepreneur Anuj Patel sympathizes with my dilemma. As a connoisseur of Indian flavors, he fully understands the pleasures derived from the happy coexistence of intense taste and insane heat. This is why he created his very own hot sauce, harnessing heaping amounts of locally-grown, organic habaneros which he enhanced with the unexpected addition of fresh mangoes. The result is his newly-minted AJ's Masterspice, a surreal explosion of furious fire and serious soul. By introducing the fruit element, your tongue is able to discern the hidden intricacies of the habanero. It is an unfamiliar exploration to be sure, because most sauces incorporating this infamous pepper, fail to temper the initial heat blast with such gentle precision. You'll find yourself enjoying aspects of the habanero that you never even knew existed.
A gentle dollop of this potent elixir added to your favorite dish reveals a subtle sweetness accompanied by the deep, devilish tones of habanero. When the spiciness drops, it drops BIG. But when used sparingly, it's nothing that can't be tackled by less than a spoonful of yogurt or cucumber sauce.
To me, however, it's not a real meal unless you've broken a sweat. Hyper-heat can be a spiritual experience--meditative even, as you contemplate the pain, dwell in it and let your mind temporarily elevate you to a higher plane. That being the case, AJ's Masterspice is my new guru. If you see it around, pick it up (carefully, of course). With its stunning packaging, semi-serious warning label, and trademark orangish-yellow hue, the bottles are hard to miss. Just remember, you've been warned: if you can't stand the heat, stick with Frank's Red Hot or something.