SPICES & CHILLIES
Spices lend character to a host of dishes and, of course, every cuisine has its favourites. To intensify their flavour, toast spices in a dry frying pan over a gentle heat (at about 110°C) for 10 minutes to activate and release the natural oils. As they toast, the spices begin to release their fragrance. Avoid using a high heat or toasting for longer, as the spices are liable to burn. If they do so, they will impart an acrid and bitter taste to your finished dish.
To grind spices, you will need a good, large pestle and mortar with a rough inner surface. Besides being key to a lot of recipes, it is a beautiful object to have in your kitchen. Chillies add heat and flavour to a host of dishes, but this is one ingredient you do need to get to know. A good all-round red chilli is the Mexican Rio Grande (or “snap nose”). Medium in length (7-8cm), it has a moderate heat and a subtle flavour, suited to our Western palates.
Even moderate varieties of chilli need to be handled carefully as all chillies will irritate – rubbing your eyes while chopping chillies would be a big mistake!
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap after preparing chillies.
DID YOU KNOW?
The hottest part of the chilli is not the flesh or the seeds, as it is generally thought to be. It is in fact the membrane holding the seeds together, so be careful to remove this.
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