The history of aji is perhaps as deep as its flavor. It is likely thought that some form of aji or uchu was used by the Inca civilization at Machu Picchu centuries ago. This Peruvian condiment, widely found across South America is still a popular condiment today. There are many different versions of this sauce. Some variations add tomatoes, lemons, or lettuce, however the use of chilis appears to be common in all preparations.
Yesterday was a very warm day here in the mile high city, and some fresh aji seemed like the perfect solution for an afternoon treat. Chef Mike and his wife Dani (two of my favorite people) were in town, so we invited them to stop by for happy hour to share some laughter, a cool beverage or two, and some good food. It was fun to introduce Dani to aji. Between her spirit of adventure, love of ethnic foods, and tendencies towards vegetarianism, I just knew she would enjoy this green delight.
To prepare Aji:
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- 2 handfuls cilantro
- 2 jalapeños, cored and seeded
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
Rough chop the lettuce, cilantro, and jalapeños. Place all ingredients in a food processor. (Add the lettuce in several batches pulsing to create room to add more). Process to a smooth and creamy consistency.
I like to serve this version of aji with sweet potato, beet chips, and black bean corn chips.