Spotlight Spice: Urfa Chiles
This week we’re shining the spotlight on crushed Urfa Chiles. This Turkish chile shares its name with the town it originated in and is a staple in regional cooking. In Turkish cuisine, Urfa Chiles (sometimes called isot peppers) are traditionally used in meat and savory dishes – much like we use black pepper in Western dishes.
Urfa Chiles have a distinct raisin-like, smokey flavor which is a result of their handling once picked. Farmers dry the chiles directly in the sunlight during the day, then wrap them for “sweating” at night. This process gives them a dark purple or almost black appearance and their signature rich, slightly smokey flavor. The sweating process also allows the pepper to retain some of its natural oils – you’ll notice the dried and crushed chiles appear moister than most dried chiles, much like a dried fruit.
Urfa Chiles are an across-the-border cousin to Aleppo Chiles and, similarly, have a full-bodied, medium heat which develops slowly. Our Urfa Chiles are around 7,500 – 10,000 on the Scoville Scale.
The Urfa Chile’s rich and earthy, fruit-like qualities make it a tasty and unexpected contribution to a variety of dishes. Try adding it to a BBQ rub or using it to finish salads, pasta dishes, pizza, pilaf, and more. The chile pairs nicely with hearty veggies, cheeses, and meats. Try it in sweet dishes involving chocolate or vanilla beans.