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Salsa Macha by Monica Shaw

Serves

Makes approx. 500ml

Cooks In

15 minutes

Difficulty

Easy

My salsa macha is based on a Rick Bayless recipe. I've been a long time fan of Rick's since first going to his restaurant, Frontera Grill, in my hometown Chicago, where I had some of the best Mexican food of my life. I've since relied on his recipes for inspiration, especially when it comes to dried chillies. The salsa macha intrigued me; this puree of nuts, seeds, dried chillies, garlic and oil seemed more akin to pesto than salsa, and indeed, it's proved a great dip, drizzle and baste for all manners of foods: flatbread, tacos, eggs, mushrooms, fish and shellfish. It's marvellous with feta cheese, or slathered onto grilled fish. It's also nice with Middle Eastern dishes like falafel, hummus and tabbouleh. My version uses almonds and sesame seeds, along with guajillo chillies and chipotle for a bit of smoky heat. But you could easily use any combination of nuts and chillies you wish - anchos for a fruity edge or piquíns for something hotter. Either way, it seems to be one of those foods that's good with everything.

Method

1. If you are using the whole chillies, wipe clean with a damp cloth, slit down the middle and discard the seeds. Then cut the chillies into 2.5cm pieces and keep to one side.

2. In a medium saucepan add the oil, almonds, sesame seeds and garlic. Heat over medium- high heat until golden brown, approx. 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat, add the diced chillies and leave to one side to cool.

3. Mix the vinegar with the salt to dissolve it. Then add this to the pan of toasted ingredients
along with the Mexican oregano.

4. When the mixture is cool, place it in a blender and pulse until combined, but still with
some texture. Store in a jar in the fridge until you are ready to use it. It will keep about 1 month refrigerated.