Salsa Roja

Salsa Roja 2

“Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce–an indication of this condiment’s origin in Spanish-speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere, particularly Mexico and the countries of Central America. In these countries, the word “salsa” encompasses a wide range of culinary concoctions, from sauces that are smooth, cooked, and served warm or hot, to condiments that are chunky, raw, and served at room temperature….The most common type of salsa was–and still is–a version of Mexican salsa cruda (raw sauce), also known as salsa fresca (fresh sauce) or salsa Mexicana (Mexican sauce), made with chopped tomatoes, onions, and fresh green jalapeno or serrano peppers…” (The Food TimeLine).

Salsa Roja, is the Red Sauce. My DD would immediately say “it is my favorite sauce in McDonalds”… she eats her chicken wrap with Salsa Roja, the spicier the better. I made my version of Salsa Roja at home & fell in love with the smoky flavor of the red chilli peppers & the vibrant red color. The best part of the salsa is the versatility; a jar in the refrigerator can be used to spice up about anything.

Salsa Roja 4

Salsa Roja

Ingredients:: (yields about 1.5 Cups)

  1. 5 Garlic Cloves, Unpeeled (with skin)
  2. 1 Serrano or jalapeño chile pepper, chopped
  3. 2-3 Vine Ripe Tomatoes, quartered
  4. 7-8 Dry Red Chilli
  5. Salt
  6. 1/4 Teaspoon Sugar
  7. 1 Teaspoon oil to coat the skillet
  8. Cilantro (optional), chopped — 1/4 cup
  9. A Squirt of Lime


Place the garlic cloves with the skin and the chillies in a hot, cast-iron skillet.  Check for brown spots as they toast on the dry griddle; turn both the chillies and the garlic cloves.  When the aroma changes to  toasty & smoky, & the chillies turn dark red & the garlic skin has brown spots, they’re done. Remove them from heat and let them cool.

Soak the Red chilli peppers in 3 tablespoons of water. Allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel the garlic cloves & set aside.

Coat the same skillet with oil. Heat the skillet & place the tomato quarters on the skillet. Cook them at high heat for not more than a couple of minutes, till just softened slightly & it starts to sizzle a bit. Don’t overcook them, they will lose the bright red color. Toss them to turn them over & switch off the heat. Let them rest in the skillet for about 10 minutes.

Transfer  peppers with the water, garlic, tomatoes from the skillet, salt & sugar to a blender & blend till coarsely blended.

Pour it out & stir in the green chilli peppers & the cilantro. Finish off with some lime juice.

Serve at room temperature.

Salsa Roja 3

Some fun ways to use the Salsa:

Serve with Tortilla chips.
Toss as dressing in your salad. (we had some quinoa, chickpeas, onions & salsa roja)
Cook some rice with it. (will make a great spicy smoky tomato rice)
Serve as a side dish with grilled meat & veggies.
Use as a spread for wrap or on pitas & sandwiches.

The Origin of Salsa:

The origins of salsa (combination of chilies, tomatoes and other spices) can be traced to the Ancient Aztecs, Mayans and Incas.

…the Indians, tens of centuries ago, cultivated the tomato and the pepper plants and improved and developed them until the tiny hot and pungent berries of the latter had been transformed into a number of varieties of peppery fruits, and the little red sourish berries of the other had become big luscious scarlet tomatoes….Long centuries before Columbus landed on the shores of the New World, the tomato and the peppers had spread from the land of the Incas to Central America and Mexico where they were cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs who called the tomato “tomatl,” which the Spaniards under Cortez corrupted to the name by which the fruit is know to us today…Very probably they [chilies] are of real value and aid in warding off fevers and other maladies, as the natives claim, for they stimulate the digestive organs, especially the liver.” —Foods America Gave the World, A Hyatt Verrill (p. 34-5; 37) – (Source of info on Salsa: Food TimeLine)

Salsa Roja 1

I am sending this post to the Mexican Fiesta 09 hosted by Heidileon & Ben’s Homemade #6: Salsa.

Related Posts: (Sauces from around the world)

Indian Curry Sauce (Tomato Based)


Homemade Harissa

Almond Satay Sauce

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