A 'song' for JFI Chillies
We make up for this restraint in spice with color. Make that COLOR. Konkani curries (ghasshi, ambat, randayi etc.) are a deep, inviting sunset color. My most abiding memories in my mother's, aunt's or mother in law's kitchen is of them running a critical eye over the masala in the blender and deciding if the color is just right.
Byadgi or Bedgi chillies - these wrinkly, deep red chillies from Karnataka are supremely important to our cuisine. Roast them in oil and you get curries that look like this. In my own kitchen, depending on the dish or cuisine, I use Byadgi, Kashmiri (they are less spicy and have equally wonderful color) or Reshampatti chillies commonly found in the grocery stores here. See this excellent post by Deccanheffalump for photos.
Batata song, a dry preparation made with potatoes puts these chillies to good use. It is one heck of a spicy-tangy curry that will make your taste buds sing (bad humor I know!). So it's perfect for this month's JFI hosted by Nandita.
3 potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 medium size onion, chopped
4-5 dry red chillies (more if you want smoke coming out of your ears!)
1 tsp tamarind paste
mustard seeds (optional)
Roast chillies in a little oil, then grind into a paste with tamarind and water*. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add onion. Saute on moderate till soft (not brown).
Add tamarind-chillli paste and potato cubes. Season to taste. Rinse blender with a little water and add to pan. Cook on low heat till the curry thickens. Cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
* I sometimes add a pinch of coriander seeds or a tablespoon of coconut to help grind the tamarind and chillies smoothly
* Use red chilli powder to save time