“Big Boys Don’t Cry” Chili Paste
June 28, 2011 • Food & Cooking
I returned last night to New York after spending 10 days in Perth, West Australia. The journey back is a tough one with a flight distance of about 20,047kms and 24 hours of actual air time not including the one transit stop.
So, I decided to do something different today and blog for the first time about cooking. Since I’ll be conducting a culinary tour to South India in February 2012 I thought it would be a good time to start sharing some of the recipes that I’ve enjoyed. So, today it’s about chili paste.
Some of the best chili paste I’ve sampled over the years have been from Sri Lanka. My recent visit there has only inspired me to search for more of this paste. Today I decided to try and make my own. So, I pulled out a bottle of Sri Lankan chili paste that I had recently purchased in Colombo and made a note of all the ingredients. A quick research online also gave me some insight into the steps of preparing this hot paste.
I started off by soaking about 10 Guajillo Mexican chilies (these are not hot but give amazing color and taste) and 3 hot dried Indian chilies in hot water for about 20 minutes. Once the soaking was complete, I strained the chilies (save some of the water) and removed the stems from the chilies. You can also remove some of the seeds if you want it to have less of a kick.
Then I sautéed a chopped medium sized onion, 5 healthy cloves of garlic and some ginger in safflower oil until just before they turned light brown.
Now I put the sautéed mix and the soaked chilies into a blender. Add a tablespoon or so of sugar, some vinegar and salt to taste. Add a little of the water that you saved from soaking the chilies. The amount of water you add will determine the consistency of the paste so start by adding just a little. Know that it is easier to add water than to remove it. Then I blended it all and watched a beautiful paste manifest before me.
Now comes the best part, tasting it. I decided to call it “Big Boys Don’t Cry” and it has nothing to do with the tear that came to my eye when I tasted it. The paste wasn’t quite right so I added a little more sugar, salt and vinegar to get it to the desired taste. Another whirl with the blender and yup, just right now!
If you would love to have an in depth experience of south Indian cooking join me on the Vedic Odyssey’s culinary adventure to South India in February of 2012.
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