This is a big Fire Food moment. I've been desperate to create another batch of preserved chillies, and finally managed to squeeze the time out of my manic life to do it. I love it, it is so rewarding. It's therapeutic in a robotic kind of a way. I see that massive pile of chillies and think that there is no end to the snipping off the tails of each individual one with scissors, but somehow, it happens, and they are all gone.
This lot, 4kg (or just over 2,000 chillies) took around two hours to get into the pot and created a good opportunity to practice my mental arithmetic. The robotic rhythm is trance-like and made it fairly easy to work out that I was doing 3.6 seconds per chilli, inspecting and tailing each one. It was motivating in a surreal kind of way.
I ordered some little jars last year and when I checked the delivery note, it was a year ago to the day that they arrived. But then this past year has been far from normal. So here are a few photos to enjoy, and it's not for sale so if you want some you have to ask really nicely.
The recipe has evolved over more than 20 years, since I was making this with my Dad when I was still a student in Australia. In those days, we would lace the chopped chillies with as many Indian spices we could lay our hands on. It made an amazingly pungent and colourful mix, but over the years I have moved towards trying to extract just the smells and flavour of the chilli itself. The end result has proved to be much more versatile.
I love it on bread or cracker biscuits with a not too strong cheddar and a cold beer. Chilli, chese and beer; the holy trinity of food in my opinion. It's superb as condiment to bangers and mash, to spice up a pizza or to add a kick to a toasted sandwich. A quarter of a teaspoon is a good start. You can also add it to tomato ketchup to make a brilliant chilli sauce for barbeques. Once you get used to it try upping it a bit. To get the benefit of the unique chilli taste it is best added to food after cooking rather than during cooking.
This batch required four kilograms of chillies, next time I'm going for eight and will rope in some family to share the enjoyment.