Some like it hot, some like it sweet. Whichever you prefer, Turkish Pepper Paste (Biber Salçası) is the ultimate ingredient of every Turkish pantry.
Turkish Pepper Paste (Biber Salçası) –also called kırmızı biber salçası –is made from crushed and sun-dried red peppers. Salt is added as a preservative so that it would last through the winter. There are two varieties: hot pepper paste (acı biber salçası ) and sweet pepper paste (tatlı biber salçası).
Pepper paste is used widely in Turkish cuisine. However, my mother was not a huge fan of it or anything hot. I remember the first time I tried pepper paste; I had itchy arms for a day although it was mixed with plain tomato paste and not hot at all. Eventually, I learnt to like it. Now I use it all the time like in the winter, I use it in clay pot dishes. In the summer, mostly in mezes and dips.
Back in Turkey, making your own pepper paste at home is widely practiced in villages and small towns, even today. Village ladies make large quantities of pepper paste when the peppers are in season and abundant. Then the pepper paste is left to sun-dry, usually on a terrace. Sometimes, they sell their produce at their local markets, too.
For those of us who cannot get home made Turkish pepper paste, a store-bought ones are ideal. They come in glass jars (see photo below) and you can get them from shops specialising in Turkish or Middle Eastern food. Check out my list in “Where to Buy” section below.
Where to Buy
In Sydney – Australia, hot pepper paste I available through these shops:
31 – 35 Queen Street
Auburn NSW 2144
Phone: 02 9749 4588
61 Rawson Street
Auburn NSW 2144
Phone: 02 9649 9327
Shop 5, 471 Seaview Street
Dulwich Hill NSW 2203
Phone: 02 9568 3243
Oriental and Continental Food Wholesalers
43 Carlotta Street
Artarmon NSW 2064
Phone: 02 9906 8990
Sometimes Super Sahel Persian Market and Deli has the pepper paste. They also sell hot nuts 🙂
Address: 337 Penshurst Street
North Willoughby NSW 2068
Phone: 02 9417 6766
In the US, Turkish pepper paste can be ordered online through Tulumba and they deliver nationwide.
Where to Use Turkish Pepper Paste
Generally, pepper paste is used in stews, main dishes, pide, lahmacun and börek mixtures, mezes, dips, spreads and in sauces. More specifically, Turkish pepper paste can be used in:
Famous Kisir (spicy cracked wheat salad). This is the style what we normally get from Turkish fast food places in Australia and in New Zealand although that’s not how my mum used to make Kisir.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves or Lahana Sarma (above) I use hot pepper paste in the actual stuffing mixture as well as the sauce I cook stuffed cabbage leaves in.
Turkish Spicy Spread or İzot (Biber Reçeli) This is an incredible meze; the first meze to run out when we have guests.
Spicy Bean Dip, VegFusion Style (above) I made this one Turkish by using Turkish pepper paste.
Savoury Bulgur Pilaf with Banana Chilli (Meyhane Pilavı) Hot pepper paste add so much flavour to this pilaf (above).
Please note that Turkish pepper paste should be stored in the fridge.