Good fermented food is not easy to get by everywhere, especially when you’re not sure if it’s being done the proper way. This is why, we at Tabchilli in Dubai, wanted to introduce you to the art of fermentation so that you can come to appreciate it as much as we do.For thousands of years, civilizations worldwide have been fascinated by an invisible “culture” that dwelled in the kitchens of seasoned cooks and ordinary folks alike. Hiding in the shadows, a swarm of magic cooks, invisible to the naked eye, worked relentlessly to transform bland vegetables, fruits, and meats into rich-flavored staples that added zest and color to food plates.
Together, let us uncover the history and science behind the mighty microorganisms’ efforts in bringing us the fine art of wild fermentation to the UAE, and let’s discover how this centuries-old food preparation process not only helped preserve food, but it created a diverse world of flavors that brought us plenty of health benefits.
We’d like to mention that our fermented chilli sauce is available for purchase in Dubai and throughout the UAE through our website. We’re positive you’ll have plenty of reasons to try it by the end of this article.
Is Fermentation that old?
Scientifically speaking, fermentation is the metabolic process where food particles are broken down by microorganisms like yeast and bacteria, to form acids, alcohol, or gases. Researchers believe that the first form of fermentation was carried out to make beverages and that the oldest evidence of it goes back to 7000 BCE in China. Records show that the same technique was also used to preserve meat and vegetables, specifically in the Middle East.
It wasn’t until Louis Pasteur, the French chemist, recognized the important role of yeast that the term gained popularity in food production and preservation in the 1800s. Following that, the spotlight was turned to an equally powerful culinary agent, a specific kind of bacteria called the lactobacillus, which achieved the same palatable results when it came to food fermentation.
This discovery was made by the Russian bacteriologist Elie Metchnikoff in the year 1910, to who we remain grateful for unveiling the magic behind dairy fermentation.
Because of the fermentation’s evidence of use through antiquity and wide adoption across cultures for thousands of years, the list of fermented foods and drinks is endless. Some of the popular types of fermented foods include:
- fermented chilli sauce
- sourdough bread
- fermented sausage
As for fermented drinks, you guessed it! Wine and beer top the list, while cedar vinegar comes a close second.
What all of these foods have in common is the sour and tangy flavor, a signature of the micro-organisms’ natural work. However, it is interesting to note that not all fermented foods you consume are naturally fermented. Bread, for example, is nowadays mass produced using processed yeast, which helps cut down the production time. Yet, traditionally, and before the revolutionization of the food processing industry, bread was leavened using naturally occurring yeast, making the fermentation process “wild”.
A popular variant of wild fermentation is Lacto-fermentation. The term “Lacto” refers to lactic acid, produced when sugar breaks down in an oxygen-free environment. It was identified in milk, which contains the sugar lactose. So, the next time you pick up a jar of Lacto-fermented chilli sauce or sauerkraut, remember that a team of hard-working lactic-acid-producing bacteria is responsible for bringing you this flavorsome palate.
Such wild fermented foods have a pleasantly rich flavor, aroma, and texture.
Now, what is the big hype about including fermented food in your diet? Increasing evidence suggests that fermented foods have health benefits beyond those offered by their original ingredients, thanks to the famous lactic acid bacteria. For instance, kimchi, the traditional Korean fermented cabbage contains a variety of amino acids that are known for their muscle repair abilities. Other fermented foods like dairy, fermented chili, and olives are rich sources of living bacteria that contribute to health in a manner similar to that of probiotics, supporting gut and immune function. Need more reasons to hop on the Lacto-fermented food train?
Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Many fermented foods, such as fermented milk and yogurt, have been found to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. With controlled blood sugar levels, energy levels are stabilized and brain function and performance are drastically improved. Next time you are preparing for a presentation, snack on some kimchi.
Boosts Your Immune System
Feeling a bit under the weather? How about a bowl of yogurt? The bacteria that live in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermented foods can boost your immune system and reduce your risk of infections. Consuming probiotic-rich foods may also help you recover faster when you’re sick. Additionally, many fermented foods are rich in vitamin C, iron, and zinc — all of which are proven to contribute to healthy and long life.
Makes Food Easier to Digest
Had a heavy lunch? Fermentation helps break down nutrients in food, making them easier to digest than their unfermented counterparts. For example, lactose — the natural sugar in milk — is broken down during fermentation into simpler sugars — glucose and galactose. As a result, those with lactose intolerance are generally fine eating fermented dairy like yogurt. Also, fermentation helps break down & destroy antinutrients — such as phytates & lectins — which are compounds found in seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes that interfere with nutrient absorption.
It is true that the head and gut are connected! A few studies have linked the probiotic strains, Lactobacillus, found in fermented foods to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. This in turn helps boost the mental health state while satisfying tastebuds.
Let’s beat to the healthy tunes of fermented foods! If you consume fermented foods, you have a lower risk of developing heart disease. They may also aid in reducing blood pressure and help in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Therefore, including wild fermented foods into your diet will sure protect your heart health.
If you are still wondering how to start your journey in discovering wild fermented foods in the UAE, Tabchilli is the perfect hot chilli sauce that will open the ancient door of goodness for you.
Made from curated ingredients of authentic Bird’s eye pepper, golden extra virgin oil, and a dash of fleur de sal, the sauce is locally prepared in Dubai to sublime perfection through the long, steady, and patient process of wild fermentation. Not only have we chosen chilli fermentation as the cornerstone of our sauce creation due to its myriad of health benefits, but we have proudly mastered the science and art behind it to feast your tastebuds on a succulent condiment teeming with age-old traditions and heritage, ready to be paired with all cuisines and dishes.