Aren’t these chillies gorgeous?
Fresh off (one of) my plants... but I only wish I knew what variety of chilli they are, the sun and rain having bleached the writing on the marker stick I’d used. I used these chillies (and added two more store-bought green chillies) to make alu matar (curried potatoes and peas) a couple of days back, but to my surprise, they didn’t seem to have any effect on the heat content at all.
I found that out only the next day, as I hadn’t bothered with tasting it after I’d made it in the evening (to use up odds and ends of tomatoes and green peas and a couple of boiled potatoes). Pete and his son Andy came back late that night after a deejaying stint at a club, and along with the lemon chicken (sauce sadly from a jar) that I’d made for them, they also demolished a good portion of my alu matar.
Which fact I discovered the next morning, to my great surprise.
Andy doesn’t shy away from chilli-hot food, but put Pete next to a green chilli and he starts sweating just from its proximity. So when he said, on being questioned, that he thought the alu matar was very tasty, I couldn’t believe my ears.
“You ate food with chillies in it?”, I asked. “YOU?”
“Yes, it tasted fantastic,” he said calmly.
“Okay..." I edged away from him warily. "Which planet are you from and when did you take over my husband’s body?”
“Look," he said, shrugging. "I stuck a finger in and tasted it, and when it didn’t burn my tongue off, I decided it was safe to eat."
"It wasn’t hot,” he added.
“It wasn’t HOT? It wasnt HOT?" I repeated, my voice rising to a squeak of outrage. "Right, bad enough that you’ve taken over my husband’s body, but to make five green chillies disappear as well... that’s too much! What have you done with my green chillies? Do you use them to fuel your space-machines?”
“It wasn’t hot,” he said again, absolutely radiating saintly patience. “Really. You try it.”
So I did.
He was right. It wasn't hot.
That was good news and bad news – good news in that apparently Pete hadn’t been possessed by chilli-neutralising aliens from outer space, but bad news (kind of) that my chillies were not hot. I was growing chillies that were *gasp* not hot? I might as well let the slugs and snails have the darned chilli plant – naaaah, just kidding! I wouldn’t let those nasty creatures have a go at my nastiest WEEDS if I could possibly help it, never mind relinquish something grown after so much difficulty, even if it was lacking in the one quality that defines a real chilli!
Anyway, my aim for next summer is to source a Bhut Jolokia chilli plant... and then we’ll see about chillies that aren’t hot. Ha.
For now, in any case, my recipe for alu matar. Yes, I know, it’s a basic recipe and one that can be found on practically everybody’s blog, and yes, I also know that I have another recipe on this very same blog for this preparation... but my point is, that’s another recipe (and those on other blogs are other recipes) - not this one.
And with that final triumphant flourish of logic, here goes...
Recipe for: Alu matar (curried peas and potatoes)
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
2 cups ripe tomatoes chopped (I added a few baby plum tomatoes)
1-1/2 cups fresh garden peas
1 medium onion chopped
8-10 small shallots (I used sambar onions)
4-5 fresh green chillies (or to taste) halved vertically
7-8 cashew nuts
1 tsp grated ginger root
1/4 cup milk or cream
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 level tsp chana masala (or garam masala)
1 cup water
3 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander leaves for garnish
1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan and fry the green chillies for 30 seconds.
2. Add the onions and the cashew nuts now and stir fry till they begin to soften and turn translucent.
3. Now add the chopped tomatoes and grated ginger,
stir and let them cook on med-high heat till the tomatoes begin to soften.
Let cool and grind to a smooth sauce.
4. Now heat the remaining 1 tsp oil and throw in the coriander powder, cumin seeds and garam masala. Stir fry for 10 seconds, then pour in the pureed sauce.
5. Add the green peas
along with 1 cup water and 1/4 cup milk,
bring to a brisk boil, then allow to simmer for 10 minutes, covered, till the peas are cooked to your liking.
6. Add the boiled potatoes and salt to taste, and let the masala reduce to a consistency you like (slightly runny if serving with rice, and thicker if accompanying rotis or parathas).
7. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve hot.