Tibetan hot sauce, called sepen in Tibetan, is a popular accompaniment to Tibetan momos and other dishes.
While the nuns hand chop all their ingredients, this recipe can be made with a food processor or blender. Add this spicy sauce to anything you like, but be careful, this sepen is extremely hot! You can adjust the heat of the sauce by reducing the amount of red pepper.
Ingredients for Tibetan Hot Sauce
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium tomatoes (Roma tomatoes work well)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- chopped 2 stalks of green onion
- 2 stalks of celery
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried red peppers (see the note below)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for cooking
NOTE: You can adjust the spiciness of this recipe by using less red pepper and/or more of the other ingredients.
Preparation of the Hot Sauce
- Roughly chop the celery, tomatoes, green onion, and cilantro.
- Peel and roughly chop garlic.
- Peel and cut onion in half lengthwise, then slice fairly thin.
- Slice tomato in thinnish circles.
- Heat oil in pan on high.
- On high heat, cook garlic a few seconds, then add onion slices and stir fry about 1 minute.
- Add celery and whole red peppers, stir fry another minute.
- Add tomato slices, and stir fry for a minute or so.
- Stir in cilantro, spring onion, and salt.
- Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.
- At this point, everything should be cooked down a bit. Put everything in a blender or food processor until you have a sauce. Stop at the thickness you like.
Thanks to Lobsang and Yolanda at YoWangdu Experience Tibet, we have a number of other Tibetan recipes to share with you including:
- Recipe for vegetarian momos
- Recipe for Tibetan noodle soup – guthuk, a special soup for Tibetan New Year
- Recipe for dal or dal baht
I would be ready to go back to bed after starting at 3:00 a.m. to make breakfast for 230 people. But also it would be quite satisfying as everyone happily took strength and pleasure from the tasty offerings. Wish the nuns didn’t have to pay inflationary prices for their simple food needs.
Can you use fresh peppers instead of dried?
Dear Thierry, Thanks for your question. We think so, but it might be best to ask Lobsang and Yolanda at YoWandu because it is their recipe that they kindly shared with the Tibetan Nuns Project. Visit their website at https://www.yowangdu.com/ and you will find many more wonderful recipes for Tibetan food.
Thank you! I did end up drying them. Will be making this recipe soon!