Indian Fruit & Fire

Sup folks, it’s tuesday again and, I’ve held off on this pair for a little too long already. So, today, we’re going to see a couple more mango sauces, from Alkemio Kitchen and Hop’t:

Two rather unique takes on this fruit and chilli combo from two very experimental companies. One featuring green jalapeños, red scotch bonnets and citrussy hops, while the other’s more focussed on indian spices, including turmeric, cumin and nigella seed.

Neither sounds quite like what I’m used to but that’s part of the fun of running a blog like this. I get to try a tonne of unique flavours and, hopefully, find something which I truly love.

Now let’s see if I’m going to do so today.

So this isn’t the first time that I’ve shown these two producers together and, at a glance, their packaging doesn’t seem to have changed much from the last. The sauces may be significantly lighter but Alkemio Kitchen still use the same brown crêpe paper with the same four alchemical symbols to wrap their Mango, Turmeric, Cumin, Nigella in. And Hop’t’s flaming hop-bud logo on golden-yellow still takes up more than half the label on their Mango Jalapeño Citra-Nelson IPA.

Yet the remainder, down the bottom, is now an interesting shade of green, presumably to reflect the jalapeño – Both now also pictured in the subtle background imagery, along with the fruit itself, in place of the previous dried chilli and chocolate.

So, as faint as it may be, Hop’t do tell us what goes into their sauce with the visuals. While Alkemio Kitchen only do so with their product’s name.

On my spoon, it’s clear to see that they aren’t ordinary sauces but it’s still difficult to tell exactly what they are.

Hop’t’s Citra-Nelson sauce is a pale, creamy-yellow colour, with translucent shreds scatted throughout. Yet, without looking at the ingredients list, I’d be hard pressed to tell you that they were onion and I definitely couldn’t tell you that the orange ones were scotch bonnet. Especially as they have a tendency to sneak out of sight, below the surface.

The texture is ever so slightly on the thick side, yet it feels about as mangoey as that pale colour looks and it’s almost both creamy and gummy. Though not quite fully either.

A most peculiar look and feel.

Whereas Alkemio Kitchen’s mango sauce appears far more normal but that outward appearance is actually quite misleading.

To the eye, it seems to be a particularly orangey – And so chilli-heavy – mustard sauce. Perhaps of a caribbean style.

Which is quite far from what it actually is.

Its texture is just as thick as the last, yet its lack of oil and reduced use of thickening gums make it feel quite different. As do the black, red and light brown chunks of its carrot, chilli and many different spices. Which, in this product, are far more identifiable. Though I will admit that their aroma is a big part of why.

While Hop’t’s sauce held only a subtle hint of herb, on the nose, Alkemio Kitchen’s is far more intense and well-spiced. Reminiscent, almost of a mango chutney.

It isn’t particularly sweet but hints of the mango do poke through, beneath the turmeric, cumin, nigella and whatever’s giving it that slight umami scent. A scent which only becomes stronger, in the mouth.

The Mango, Turmeric, Cumin, Nigella – Fittingly named for all of its most obvious aromas – doesn’t resemble chutney in my mouth, at all.

Not only does it feel nothing like it, it’s savoury. Intensely so!

The first taste to hit my tongue is naan-like. The subtle undertone of sweetness in the bread replicated by the nearly undetectable taste of the fruit, while the nigella seeds used to spice it come through strongly. Albeit not nearly as strongly as the toasty taste of cumin and almost meaty umami that come next. Providing that serious hit of long-lingering savouriness which slowly fades out, as the earthy turmeric and ginger take hold. Perhaps with just a little bit of help from the small amount of mustard that actually is in here.

This is not a mango sauce. It’s not a fruit sauce. It’s not even a sweet sauce. It’s a savoury spice sauce, through and through!

The heat from Alkemio Kitchen’s generic red chillies grows a little, in the back of my mouth after I swallow, but it never reaches anything beyond a mild

So it’s the spices, not the spice, that are the star of this show. I just wish I could work out where to use them, besides chinese and indian chicken dishes.

Whereas I know exactly what I want to do with the Mango Jalapeño Citra-Nelson IPA. Because it’s a gorgeous blend of smooth and creamy, leading in to

heat, fiery citrus and a herby, yet only slightly green finish.

Once again, the mango is subtle but, this time around, the fruity flavours are not. Even if they do mostly come from the hop oils and lime.

It’s immediately obvious that Hop’t know their craft, once again, with how well their citra and nelson-suavin hops complement the fruit and gentle green chilli. Yet, this time around, I’m enjoying it rather more than the last. Because it’s not nearly as dry and astringent as their stout-inspired sauce. Despite a similar level of focus on the herb oils.

These IPA hops are quite different to what we saw before and I love that I can taste that in Hop’t’s creation. But also, I just love that warming citrus flavour which, while not quite as yuzu-like as it was in Gingerbeard’s Piccalilli, still makes this sauce a perfect accompaniment for white fish. Perhaps in the tacos that its makers suggest.

Personally, though, I’m going to keep throwing this one over my calzone, where its citrus brightens up the tomato base and its herby freshness brings out the best in the “toppings”. Because, while calzone may use all of the same ingredients as pizza, allowing them to steam within the dough really does make a difference to how they cook and it’s just that little bit better for a sauce like Hop’t’s. Which has definitely proven to be my favourite of the day.

Hop’t’s sauce contains:

Mango (27.8%), White Wine Vinegar, Onions, Orange Juice, Green Jalapeño Chillies (9.5%, Olive Oil, Red Scotch Bonnet Chillies (4.1%), Lime Juice, Rock Salt, Garlic, Black Pepper, Cita Hop Oil (0.5%), Natural Nelson Suavin Hop Flavouring, Gellan Gum, Citra Hops (0.02%)

And you can find more of its jalapeño and scotch bonnet peppers on the relevant encyclopedia pages. Though it really was the hops that made it.

Whereas Alkemio Kitchen’s Mango, Turmeric, Cumin, Nigella used a rather more generic chilli that I can’t link you to and it didn’t wow me like the company’s many great past products but it was quite a unique flavour, all the same. And not a bad one.

It contained:

Mango, turmeric, red chilli, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, nigella seed, cumin, apple cider vinegar, citric acid, sugar, salt, black pepper lime, mustard, orange, xanthan gum, potassim sorbate

And I’d still suggest giving it a look, if the flavours caught your interest. Even if I would recommend Hop’t’s mango sauce first.

2 thoughts on “Indian Fruit & Fire

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