(Chilli freaks this one is for you! ) I know what you're going to say: Bulgaria really? Well yes! I didn't expect it either but so far the hottest and tastiest chilli sauces I could find come from Bulgaria. So if you happen to be in the country visit Chilli Hills for a fiery experience!
I recently went with my girls on a long weekend trip to Plovdiv and experienced the hottest chilli sauces I have ever tried at the Chilli Hills stand from the Mood for Food Festival. To be honest I didn't know what to expect when I started to taste these sauces but the surprise was good/hot/flavourful. Indeed, each sauce has been developed around 1 specific chilli pepper strain and a cocktail of spices to give it a unique twist. In total there are 8 sauces available rating from 2/10 to 10/10 and damn they're good!
The Origin of the Project.
Craft is today's new hot topic and we see more and more people launching a business around a passion they excel at: beer, food, jewelry, calligraphy, you name it! Chilli Hills is part of that craft movement and a notable success! I spent quite some time with the guys from Chilli Hills and actually learned a bit more about how the project came to be and the vision behind it.
It apparently all started as a hobby: growing chilli plants, making hot sauces and sharing them with family and friends. The project itself grew roots when everyone gave positive feedback about these hot sauces and the harvests became so massive that something had to be done to not waste them...Hence the idea of commercializing Chilli Sauces and spicy products made from chillis cultivated locally in the Vitosha mountains. The project took off in just 4 years and now Chilli Hills is a brand synonym of quality and a leader in its field in Bulgaria.
I find that launching a business is already ambitious in itself but for Chilli Hills, it doesn't stop there. The brand has established one more goal, besides growing and becoming successful: to bring back the Bulgarian Carrot Chilli Pepper (also known as Shipka), an heirloom variety. I didn't know it even existed before I met the guys from Chilli Hills and heard its particular history. It was apparently smuggled out of the country during the cold war and became a rare variety of chillis. Its reintroduction is part of Chilli Hills' mission, which is why they started promoting this project with the slogan "Bring the Carrot Back!" and offering seeds.
Me and my friends each got a pack of 10 seeds and we definitely plan to try growing the Bulgarian Carrot Chilli Pepper and talk about it! It's a fun variety that looks like a carrot (pointy and orange) hence its name, it grows fast and offers a nice degree of spiciness.
Out of the 8 hot sauces I purchased 3 of them: The Jalapeno Lime, The Village Spice and finally the Reaper. I also got two small jars of the Moroccan Scorpion paste, not sure what I will do with it besides feed it to my worst enemy though (it's sooo hot!!). So far I have used the Jalapeno Lime and village spice in bolognese and it added a little kick that I really loved.
From what I can see on the label, these sauces can be kept up to 60 days in the refrigerator once opened so you'll be able to enjoy them for a while. Doesn't seem like much? Well...Keep in mind that Chilli Hills' products are free of any preservative, artificial colouring, thickener & GMO so 60 days is pretty decent! You can store non-opened bottles for up to 1 year.
Besides sauces you can also buy a few spices and mix such as Smoked Paprika, Piri Piri or Fajita mix. Chilli Hills also infuses honey, alcohol, jam, chocolate and salt with chilli as part of their wide range of cool products. You can find these products at the official store in Sofia, online as well as in a selection of shops. They ship worldwide and honestly some of these products are great for yourself but also as gift for chilli freaks out there. I will definitely need to restock on Smoked Paprika, I tried it last week and damn it was good! The real thing definitely beats any industrial paprika you've tried before!
Interesting to find out more or check out Chilli Hills webshop? Click here