Chillies: Spicy is a word synonymous with Indian cuisine. But chillies only came to us in India in the 17th century with the advent of the Portugese. For an ingredient that entered our cuisine so late, it has managed to make itself irreplaceable. Today chillies are extensively used and every region in India has a different variety of chillies. In India chillies are used in all their avatars from fresh and green to ripe red and dried crimson. Green chillies are used for chutneys, salads and vegetables and the dried red varieties are used popularly in the tadkas and to add heat. Red chilli powder is undoubtedly the most used spice in Indian cooking. But Chillies are used for their heat.
Maharashtrian Mirchi Thecha
(Preparation Time: 15 minutes; Makes: 1 cup)
Thencha (meaning pounded) is a condiment called so due to its method of preparation made from pounding slightly charred fresh chillies and garlic pounded together to form a coarse paste. The smoky flavour from the roasting adds to the heat of the chillies and the aroma of the garlic. This is a mild version using capsicums for the green chilli flavour and a few green chillies for heat.
“Zhanzhanit”- meaning electrifyingly spicy in Marathi (a regional language) is an exclusive word used for chilli preparations, mostly the ones that are so hot that it makes one cry while eating.
6-10 hot spicy Green chillies
12 cloves of Garlic, peeled
In a small baking tray, place Capsicums, chillies and garlic pods. Drizzle with Olive oil and roast Roast them uniformly on all sides till you see brown black spots over them. Place capsicums in a paper bag to sweat off the skins, peel and reserve. (If you are using the green chillies available, peel them too. If using spicy Thai or Indian green chillies , those can’t be peeled. Place peeled capsicums, chillies and garlic in a mortar and pestle or blender and process to a coarse paste. Roast them uniformly on all sides till you see brown black spots over them. Thecha can be stored for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.