Dishes with the magic of chilli peppers
Many varieties of chilli peppers exist, such as cayenne and jalapeño. They are primarily used as a spice and can be cooked or dried and powdered.
There are over 100 varieties of chilli peppers in Mexico alone, each with its own distinct flavour. In general, the smaller the chilli, the hotter the taste — although this is not guaranteed.
Capsicum is the main bioactive plant compound in chilli peppers, responsible for their unique, pungent taste, and myriad health benefits.
Chilli peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are powerful antioxidants, which is important for wound healing and immune functions.
Red chilli peppers are high in beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Chilli peppers provide some carbs and offer a small amount of protein and fibre.
Chilli peppers health benefits include improving cognitive function, contributing to red blood cell formation, reducing blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease, acting as natural pain reliever, clearing nasal congestion, soothing intestinal diseases and disorders, boosting immunity and maintaining healthy eyes.
Other benefits include preventing cancer, promoting weight loss, and improving longevity.
The next time you prepare a meal, add an extra spark with chilli peppers. Getting a teary-eye or a slight burn in your tongue can be all worth getting used to, especially when you stand to benefit from such a long list of health benefits.
NAGA BHUT JOLOKIA CHICKEN GRAVY
The Naga chilli, locally known as Naga morich, is a chilli pepper cultivated in Bangladesh and Northeast India. It is one of the hottest known chilli peppers, and is closely related to the Bhut Jolokia. It was once recorded as the world's hottest chilli.
Like many varieties of the Chinese species, the Naga chilli is a small to medium shrub with large leaves, small, five petaled flowers, and hot fruit. It has a wrinkle texture as opposed to the smoother flesh of similar varieties.
The plants are cultivated in North East India, especially in Nagaland and Manipur, thus the origin of the name Naga. They are also grown in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia for the production of hot sauces, and in Finland, where it is mainly sold fresh in market. It is also available in West Africa.
1 Naga chilli
6 green chillies, finely chopped
4 large chicken breasts slices, into pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
3 onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp oil
4 large tomatoes roughly chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3 cups water
2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp ground coriander
Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add cumin. When hot, add onions. Fry for 3 minutes. Add the Naga chilli, green chillies, turmeric, ginger and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and yoghurt. Stir and mix well.
Add chicken, salt and mix. Fry for few minutes. Add water and garam masala powder. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. When it is done, remove from heat and serve hot.
CHILLI GARLIC PRAWNS
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 chillies, chopped
2 stalks spring onions
¼ cup Thai chilli sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds oil
Mix chilli sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil in a bowl and keep aside. Trim the prawns of your liking. Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic, chilli and half of the spring onions. Sauté until aromatic. Add the prawns and let them cook until charred. When the prawns are almost cooked, add the sauce mixture and stir to combine. Once prawns and sauce mixture are well combined and start to caramelise, switch off the flame and add the remaining spring onions. Serve immediately with rice.
FRIED STUFFED CHILLIES
6 long big green chillies
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 cup gram flour
2 chillies, chopped
½ tsp chopped garlic
½ tsp ginger, chopped
1 lemon juice
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste
Wash and cut the long green chillies into half length-wise. Make the chilli hollow. Heat oil in a pan on low heat. Fry mustard seeds until crackles. Add garlic, ginger and chopped chillies to the pan. Fry for few minutes and add mashed potatoes, ½ tsp red chilli powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, lime juice, and salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add coriander leaves and mix well. Remove from heat and keep it aside to cool. Stuff the chillies with the potato mixture and keep aside. Take another bowl and combine gram flour, remaining red chilli and turmeric powder, salt and little water to make a thick batter. Heat enough oil in a pan. Dip each stuffed chilli in the batter. Dip fry until golden brown. Serve hot with tomato ketchup.
For chilli paneer —
2 cups paneer (cottage cheese), cut into cubes
3 tbsp cornflour
Oil for deep-frying
To be mixed into a batter —
¼ cup corn flour
¼ cup plain flour
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp black pepper powder
Salt to taste
½ cup water
Other ingredients for chilli paneer —
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped green chillies
¼ cup chopped spring onions, white and greens
¼ cup onion cubes
¼ cup capsicum cubes
2 tsp red chilli paste
½ tsp soy sauce
1 tsp red chilli sauce
½ tsp vinegar
Salt to taste
To be mixed into cornflour-water mixture —
2 tbsp cornflour
5 tsp water
For chilli paneer —
Combine the paneer and cornflour in a deep bowl and toss them well. Add the above cornflour coated paneer cubes into the prepared batter and toss gently. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and deep fry the coated paneer until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan, add ginger, garlic and green chillies, sauté on medium flame for a few seconds. Add the spring onions, onion cubes, capsicum and sauté on a medium flame for a few seconds.
Add red chilli paste, soy sauce, vinegar and red chilli sauce. Cook on a medium flame for 1 minute. Add fried paneer and cook on a high flame for a few seconds. Add the cornflour-water mixture, mix gently and cook on a high flame for a few seconds. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve immediately.
SWEET AND SOUR CHILLI SAUCE
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp hot chilli pepper, minced
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp corn starch
Pour water and vinegar into a saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat, stir in sugar, ginger, garlic, chilli pepper, and ketchup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in corn starch. Remove from heat and cool. Then transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed.
CRISPY BEEF CHILLI
500g beef steak, very thinly sliced into strips
3 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
3 tbsp oil
2 red peppers, thinly sliced
2 red chillies, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, sliced, green and white parts separated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, cut into matchsticks
4 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
In a bowl, put steak strips, cornflour and Chinese five spice powder. Mix well. Heat oil in a wok or large pan. Add beef and fry until golden and crisp. Remove from pan and keep aside.
In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil. Add pepper, red chilli, spring onion, ginger, and garlic to the pan. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add vinegar, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, and little water. Bubble for 2 minutes and add the fried beef back into the pan. Toss well to coat. Remove from heat and serve.
GREEN CHILLI PICKLE
250g green chillies
2 tbsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ cup mustard oil
½ tbsp salt
2 lemon juice
Wash the whole green chillies and spread them on kitchen towel to dry completely. Slice the green chillies into small round slices. Grind mustard seeds in mortar-pastel or use a spice grinder.
First, in a large clean glass jar or bowl. Add sliced chilli, mustard, lemon juice, and salt. Then warm the mustard oil in a small pan, but don't boil or heat too much. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and remove from heat. Pour oil over the chilli mixture. Mix well and leave it for 2 days. Serve with rice or khichuri.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Food and Styling: RBR