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Red hot chilli pepper…

September 23, 2012

This morning I was woken up by the noise of the rain hitting the windows. It’s hardly stopped all day and the sky is leaden. You can’t even see the hills because of the descending tangible greyness (well it’s dark now, but earlier you couldn’t see anything but grey).  The beloved and I donned our raincoats and wellies and walked down to the river, but it was looking a little disappointing; the water obviously hasn’t made it down from the moors yet. With such enveloping gloom something a little brighter was needed – obviously time to try out the Dorset naga chilli.

To counteract such a grey day I thought I’d compound the red to force some cheeriness so I chopped two large red peppers and half a dozen red, and a bit squishy, tomatoes from the garden and put them in an ovenproof dish with a generous slug of olive oil and some salt. Then I set about dissecting the chilli. I held it carefully in a piece of paper and chopped it on a plate – I figured that if it is the 2nd hottest chilli in the world I’d better not take any chances. There were only two seeds in it and I decided not to include them. “Won’t be that hot then,” said the beloved, a little dismissively I felt,  as he walked past.

As I chopped it, the chilli smelled hot  – in a chilli kind of way; that would probably be the capsaicin (which is used to make pepper spray). I cut it into tiny tiny pieces and offered a piece the size of a grain of sugar to the beloved. He picked it up – not with his fingers I noted, but with a piece of kitchen roll – and put it in his mouth. Almost immediately he spat the minute bit of chilli into the bin, uttered an expletive and went off, coughing, to find some cheese.

Now the beloved is not fainthearted when it comes to hot things, so I knew this was unusual. “It’s really hot,” he said, “I knew didn’t want to swallow it and feel it burning my insides. You’d better try some before you cook it”. He left the kitchen. Tentatively I put my tongue to the knife that I’d cut the chilli with – saying I licked it would be an exaggeration. My whole mouth was filled with a burning sensation – no flavour,  just heat. It made my eyes water.

For a moment I thought I’d better not add the entire chilli to the pan, but only for a moment. I carefully scraped the chilli off the plate into the pan which I shoved into the Aga, though I did add a spoon of sugar in the hope that it would reduce the heat somewhat, and cooked it for about an hour. When I took it out it looked delicious.  I tasted a tiny amount; it was still pretty fiery. I added half a block of feta cheese and cooked it for another 10 minutes and then served it to a somewhat trepidatious audience.

It was hot. The hot lime pickle that you get in Indian restaurants is nothing on this. “Even the cheese is really hot”, said Arlo. Rella looked impassive, but conceded that her lips were tingling. I’m quite excited about the culinary prospects. Green tomato chutney is set to take on a whole new oeuvre.

“It’s probably a good job that there’s not  many chillies on the plant” said the beloved.  He hasn’t looked very closely.



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