From ketchup to salsa, there are plenty of condiments around the world that can be paired with food.
Did someone just say that salt doesn’t feature in the list of condiments? Well, you are mistaken. The most important element in most savoury meals, salt has even made its way into desserts too. While some may say that salt is a seasoning, it is an important condiment too. For the unversed, a condiment is described as something that is added to a dish after it has been cooked to adjust the flavour of the same. A condiment is any preparation that serves this purpose and enhances the food that is served on your plate. It is believed that mustard is one of the oldest condiments in the world, wherein the Romans tried to glaze a wild boar with a spice blend of ground mustard, coriander seeds and more.
Since then, the condiment world has expanded to include a variety of dips, sauces and spreads. Pick any cuisine and you are bound to find certain iconic condiments from their fare. Take the Indian chutneys for instance. The Indian fare is replete with a plethora of chutneys, like the mint-coriander chutney, tomato chutney, raw mango chutney and many others. With so much diversity in the condiments, here is a comprehensive collection of some of best condiments around the world.
World’s Best Condiments
1. Maple Syrup
Made from the xylem sap of sugar, maple syrup is extract from the maple trees. The sweet and thick syrup is a popular condiment, usually drizzled on pancakes and the world’s maple syrup is largely transported from Canada’s Quebec region. Did you know that maple syrup is also referred to as liquid gold in Canada?
What does salsa remind you of? Nachos, we’re guessing. The interesting bit is that while major part of the world knows salsa as a tangy tomato-based dip, it is actually of various kinds. Salsa is an umbrella term for a diverse variety of dips that are eaten with tortilla chips. Belonging to the Mexican-American fare, salsa can be salsa roja, salsa fresca and salsa verde with different spice combinations.
3. Soy Sauce
It might not be too hard to guess where do the origins of this black sauce lie? The soy sauce dates some 2500 years when ancient Chinese made use of jiang, a method of preserving foods. The Chinese in the between the 3rd and 5th century, experimented with a combination of enzymes, salt and soybean. When wheat was added to the fermentation process, the earthy soy sauce was born. It is very often used in Chinese cuisine, like meat and vegetable dishes.
If you’re familiar with Japanese cuisine, we bet that you would have come across this hot and spicy condiment from their fare. Made from Japanese horseradish plant, the spicy condiment is a thick green paste that is often served alongside sushi. The root of the plant is mashed to form this paste which has a pungent flavour.
5. Tartar Sauce
If there are fish and chips on the menu, there ought to be some tartar sauce too. The condiment originates from the French sauce tartare and is a creamy combination of mayonnaise and a few additions. Generally, chopped pickles, herbs like dill and capers are added to the mayonnaise and mixed together to form the tartar sauce. You can also pair it with onion rings and other fried bites.
6. Fruit Jam
Fruit Jam usually adds a tinge of sweetness to a quick breakfast toast. Slathered on the bread slice, fruit jam can be of various kinds. From mangoes to pineapples and berries, anything can be squashed into this fruity condiment. Jam is usually made by boiling a fruit like raspberry along with sugar. The resulting sweet spread is not only used on bread but also added to pies and other desserts.
7. Sriracha Sauce
The invention of this hot and fiery sauce has been credited to the Thai cuisine. Legend has it that the sriracha sauce of today follows the recipe of a housewife named Thanom Chakkapak who created it is in the 1930s in a place called Si Racha. We’re assuming that’s how the sauce got its name too. Made from vinegar, garlic salt and sugar, it is the chilli peppers that are used in the sauce which raise the heat.
The most commonly-eaten condiment around the world, ketchup is a combination of tomatoes and sugar. The good part about ketchup is that it can be paired with anything and everything. The humble ketchup is believed to have fish sauce as its predecessor, wherein the Southeast Asian sauce from Vietnam was replicated by the Britishers to form the tomato condiment.
An essential part of Korean cooking, Gochujang is a thick red chilli paste which offers a mélange of flavours. From sweet to spicy, the fermented condiment is made from glutinous rice, gochu garu, salt and meju powder. The thick paste is usually used as a sauce in preparing bibimbap, a rice-based one pot dish from Korea as well as for coating the Korean fried chicken.
10. Barbeque Sauce
While the name of the sauce is self-explanatory, the origins also validate the name. Barbeque sauce was actually used for barbequing meat. The sauce has existed since the 17th century when the Dominion missionaries applied lime juice and pepper to the meat for marination. The idea of using a thick, hot and smokey sauce for barbequing was introduced to flavour the meat that is to be cooked. From chicken wings to seafood, plenty of dishes make use of this sauce.
11. Mustard Sauce
While the yellow mustard is obtained from a Mediterranean plant, it is the brown variant that grows in India. The seeds of the mustard plant are ground and made into a thick paste to obtain this sauce. It is believed that the mustard sauce origins coincided with ketchup, where the fish sauce acted as a precursor in this direction. Although both Rome and Egypt utilized mustard in cooking their food, the first mustard sauce is said to be devised by the Romans.
A creamy counterpart of mayonnaise from France, Aioli is a smooth dip that is made from garlic, egg yolks and olive oil. In fact, the name of the condiment highlights its components, where ai means garlic and oli refers to oil. Apart from France, this garlicky condiment is also consumed in some parts of Spain with slight variations. It is a great pairing for seafood like grilled fish, shrimps and lobster.
A hot and spicy chilli paste from Tunisia, Harissa is made from garlic, dry red chillies, olive oil and coriander seeds. While these are the basic ingredients to make Harissa, there are plenty of variations that are added to the condiment like lemon and onions. The heat of the roasted peppers is what makes it so spicy and pairs really well with sandwiches and meats like beef.
14. Worcestershire Sauce
India seems to play a huge role in the invention of this English sauce. While the name has stuck to the condiment due to the place of its origins i.e. Worcestershire in England, the sauce was created by two pharmacists who were visited by the Governor of Bengal in the 19th century. Upon the governor’s request, they created a sauce but since the taste wasn’t appetizing they left it in a cellar. It was the pungent flavour afterwards that lured them and led to the discovery of this sauce.
15. Ranch Sauce
A combination of buttermilk, garlic, mustard, onion and spices, the ranch sauce is a creamy condiment that is used as a salad dressing. A popular sauce from America, the ranch dressing was created by an American couple who moved to California and purchased a ranch. That’s where they developed this heavenly sauce and since then, has been poured on crunchy salads.