Friday, October 15, 2010

Choosing Your Chili

There are literally hundreds of varieties of peppers.  Now, we think you can't really go wrong with any of them, but if a recipe calls for a poblano, which is large, fairly mellow, and used most commonly for stuffing, and you use a habanero, which is tiny and lethally hot, you may be in for a rude awakening. 
We found the following resources to be quite helpful in sorting through this condunrum:

Chili Pepper Varieties
Choosing Chili Pepper Varieties

You also want to be very careful when handling peppers--many cooks wear gloves to prevent irritations.  The peppers' residue can linger on your hands, and if you touch your eyes--or any sensitive other part of yours or someone else's--severe pain may ensue.  See our Facebook page for an embarrassing example of this phenomenon, and to enter this week's contest.

And here's a recent discovery, a fabulous use of whole dried chilis.  We promise, even if you think you loathe cabbage, the following recipe from our friend Pia (a big fan of Reading Terminal Market) will change your mind.  Pia is a marvelous cook and hostess who hails from  India.  Her execution of her native cuisine is legendary and invitations to dinner at her house are coveted dearly.  Good thing she is not stingy with her hospitality.

Bombay Cabbage with Dried Chilis (serves 6)

1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
4 small dried chilis
1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated
1/2 head cabbage, sliced thinly or shredded
3 Tablespoons plain yogurt

Heat oil on medium-high.  Add mustard seeds and cook til they begin to pop.  Add remaining seasonings, stir, then add cabbage.  Stir thoroughly til cabbage wilts, 5 minutes or so.  Remove from heat, cool slightly, and add yogurt.   Stir and serve, or set aside and reheat later.

While Pia's cabbage recipe does not require any advance prep of the dried chilis, many do.  Here is a quick tip on how to handle the rehydration process:

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