6 Gourmet Chilli Condiments That Can Work In Desi Recipes

There’s a reason Indian chillies are a sought-after ingredient; be it the fiery degi laal mirchi or the milder Kashmiri chilli powder or regional options like Bhoot Jolokia, Guntur chilli and Mathania powder, desi chilli spices which are used in Indian cooking typically have a well-rounded profile. they are generally known for their heat, which can vary from mild to extremely hot but in terms of taste, Indian chillies often have a slightly fruity or earthy undertone, especially when they're fresh. 

When dried, they may develop deeper, smokier flavours. Some varieties might also have hints of bitterness or tanginess, depending on their characteristics. But their biggest USP is that the heat of Indian chillies is usually complex and tends to linger on the palate, so they are often used to add not just heat but also flavour and colour to curries, chutneys, sauces etc. So, are there any imported gourmet chilli condiments which can replace Indian chilli spices in desi dishes? Let’s have a look.

Sambal Oelek

This Indonesian condiment is a spicy chilli paste made from fresh red chilli peppers, vinegar, and salt. It's vibrant colour and bold flavour make it a versatile condiment that pairs exceptionally well with Indian cuisine. Add a spoonful of Sambal Oelek to curries, marinades, or chutneys to impart a fiery kick and tangy acidity. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for snacks like samosas or pakoras as it can enhance their flavor with its pungent heat.


Hailing from North Africa, Harissa is a fiery chilli paste made from roasted red peppers, garlic, spices like cumin and coriander, and olive oil. Its smoky flavour and intense heat add depth and complexity to Indian dishes, particularly meat and vegetable curries. Stir a dollop of Harissa into your curry base or use it as a marinade for grilled meats and kebabs. The earthy undertones of Harissa complement the rich spices commonly found in Indian cuisine perfectly.


Gochujang is a staple condiment in Korean cuisine, made from fermented soybeans, red chilli peppers, glutinous rice, and salt. Its thick consistency and sweet-spicy flavour profile lend themselves well to Indian recipes, particularly those with bold flavours and hearty ingredients. Incorporate Gochujang into dishes like biryani, stir-fries, or vegetable curries to add depth and umami richness. The complex flavours of Gochujang enhance the overall taste experience, making it a standout ingredient in fusion cooking.

Peri-Peri Sauce 

Already popular in fusion dishes, peri-peri sauce originated in Portugal but gained popularity in African countries like Mozambique and Angola. Made from African Bird's Eye chillies, garlic, lemon, and vinegar, this tangy and spicy sauce adds a burst of flavour to Indian dishes. Brush Peri-Peri Sauce onto grilled meats, paneer tikka, or roasted vegetables for a tantalizing blend of heat and citrusy brightness. Its versatility and bold flavour profile make it a delightful addition to Indian-inspired marinades, dressings, or dipping sauces.


Shichimi Togarashi, or Japanese Seven Spice Blend, is a versatile seasoning blend made from seven different spices, including chilli peppers, sesame seeds, and citrus zest. While not traditionally Indian, its spicy and aromatic profile can complement Indian flavours beautifully. Sprinkle Shichimi Togarashi over dishes like tandoori chicken, fried rice, or vegetable stir-fries to add a fiery kick and subtle umami richness. The blend of spices in Shichimi Togarashi adds depth and complexity to Indian recipes and also elevates them.


Gochugaru is a staple ingredient in Korean cuisine, consisting of coarsely ground red chilli flakes. These flakes are made from sun-dried red chilli peppers and boast a vibrant colour and medium heat level. While not traditionally used in Indian cooking, Gochugaru can add a unique depth of flavour and subtle spiciness to dishes like biryani, dal, or even chutneys. Sprinkle Gochugaru over roasted vegetables or mix it into marinades for grilled meats to impart a smoky, slightly sweet heat that complements Indian spices beautifully.