I was speaking to the Mexican chef Martha Ortiz, and she told me about a spice mix called tajin made of ground-up chillies, dehydrated lime and salt. When she spoke about it, it took me right back to my childhood. I grew up in Kenya and sometimes my older sister would pick me up from nursery. Occasionally, as a treat, we would stop by the mama mboga (mother vegetables). This was the name given to female vegetable sellers who either had stalls and kiosks or peddled their veg from door to door. They used to have this speciality where they would take a raw mango, make deep cuts all around the stone and then fill it in with this mixture of chilli, sugar and salt. I would walk along the street, pulling off bits of the mango and my mouth would absolutely tingle and burn with this chilli mixture and the sourness of the raw mango.
Tajin is even nicer because of the lime zest. I’ve been gorging on it with all the summer fruits. It makes an incredible margarita, too. The other day, I had some really ripe peaches and gooey burrata in the fridge. It’s a little untraditional but I sprinkled some on that. The creamy cheese, the sweet peaches and the slight heat from the tajin was a really lovely combination. I think, somehow, putting chilli on fruit enhances the sweetness.