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Friday, July 2, 2010

Green chillies, history and uses

Green chillies have much the same history as red chillies. They are immature fruit of the same plant. They were first cultivated in South America, more than 3,000 years ago. They were first used in medicines and then as a food. There are hundreds of varieties of chilli, with the hottest in contention for first place. One of the hottest is the little Jalapeno (pronounced halapeeno) which comes from Mexico, and the hottest South American variety is the Habanera or scotch bonnet. Then there’s the tiny Pequin, which is used as a base for Tabasco. The Naga variety from India lays claim to being the hottest, but this is disputed, as the claim is that the hottest chilli in the world comes from the foothills of the Himalayas, and this is known to locals as the Sikkimese Cherry Chilli, which is orange in colour when fully ripe.
If you steep chillies in vinegar, this will distribute their flavour throughout the dish, as in a Vindaloo.
It’s reported that Montezuma liked his cocoa flavoured with vanilla, honey and chillies. I wonder where the phrase Montezuma’s Revenge really came from. (Joke!)
The Incas, by the way, worshipped the chilli among other things.
India is now the biggest exporter of chillies.
So much for chilli facts, now for a recipe.

250 gr green chillies
2 green mangoes, peeled and grated
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
½ cup oil

Slit the chillies from top to bottom but otherwise leave intact, you do this so they don’t explode while frying.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and put in the slit chillies and the cumin seeds, and stir. Fry until the pith in the slit turns white, about 5 mins, depending on the type of chilli and how much liquid it contains.
Now add the grated mango with the seasonings, stir and cook for a further 5 mins, stirring constantly so that you don’t burn the mixture.
Remove from the heat and serve with steamed meat or fish, ideally. You can leave this relish in the fridge for a week.
This has Taste and is a Treat.

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