24 May Chillies the key to authentic flavours
Here I am with something new for my Blog. I have so far been giving you my personal experiences. Well I thought why not for a change write about the spices used in Sri Lankan and Indian cuisines.
For a start I will talk about CHILLIES, perhaps the world’s most popular flavouring. They serve two purposes – to give the dish colour and to give a dish the flavouring and heat.
Chillies were discovered by the Spanish in the 16th Century. Chilli peppers as they were called were discovered in the Aztec and Mayan regions of Central and South America.
The chilli plant was then taken by the Spaniards to the hot humid areas of the Mediterranean.
Later it was taken by the Spaniards and Portuguese traders to Africa, India, Sri Lanka and the Far East.
In India and Sri Lanka it was so widely adapted that it is used in their entire cuisine. It is fundamental in South Eastern Asian cooking where chilli sambals are served at every meal.
It is important to understand the use of chillies in the making of curries as they are an important ingredient.
Not all chillies are hot. Fresh green unripe chillies are often less hot than ripe red ones.
There is a range of chilli varieties. Chillies are also available, fresh, canned, dried and as flakes or processed.
Most commonly there are two varieties of
chillies: the green variety, which is used fresh, and the red which is used in dried form.
Chillies are an important source of Vitamin C. Care should be taken when handling chillies. Always wash hands after handling chillies.
Powdered dry chillies should be stored in airtight containers away from sunlight. Buy chillies in small quantities and do not store for long periods as the flavour and aroma can be lost.
Green chillies are used in making salads and pickles or chutneys. In these preparations they are used raw. In some savouries they are used for cooking.
Recipes usually indicate how the chillies are to be used, slit or chopped. Some dishes call for broken-up red chilli, others for it to be ground into a paste with a little water or vinegar, while in other recipes only red chilli powder is to be used.
The stalks of chillies are always removed before use.
To achieve the bright colour effect of red chilli powder with a less hot taste, some recipes suggest that paprika can be added it can be mixed with paprika.
But I believe that the colour depends on the type of chilli used and the measurement as given in the recipe.
In authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, I do not use paprika. One does not have to de-seed green chillies.
In my recipes I use BABA’s plain chilli powder.
For chicken and meat dishes I use this chilli powder, together with my own blend of curry powder.