There’s nothing like travelling is there? New vistas, new faces and friends, and wonderful new foods and flavours to experience – it just ups the intensity of life. I’ve been a sort of gypsy my whole life, as the child of a diplomat and later as a grown up with an enduring wanderlust. It’a a heady feeling, that one when you are about to embark on a journey to somewhere unfamiliar. A mix of excitement, trepidation and adventure. For me, an addictive feeling. I’ve been lucky enough to live in some of these places, and really learn about them, a knowing that only time in a place can bring. I spent a few years in Texas as a teenager, and then in Southern California during university. Both of these places rich in glorious produce and flavour. And chilli peppers.
I adore chilli peppers and, living now in rural England, don’t find them nearly enough. To my delight, the beautiful and historic Waddesdon Manor – close to our home – hosts a Chilli Festival each year. Complete with Mariachi singers, a bounty of hot sauces, fiery foods, and most delightful for me, a stunning variety of peppers. I bought some gorgeous Poblanos to bring home and cook. Sometimes I make Chilli Relllenos with these, or bake them with a walnut sauce. Today I fire roasted them to eat with an abundant pan of pork carnitas. Imagine – with the mood and the flavours – it was like a trip without the journey.
Avocados are delicious with chillies, corn and spice. I asked my husband to help me and mash some up for me for a guacamole. Now he would say that he isn’t really much of a cook – but he decided to spice the guacamole up with a few drops of this most delicious Chipotle Pepper Sauce – and the result was amazing. I can’t make it any other way now!
I serve the Carnitas with a basket of fluffy warm corn tortillas, a homemade tomato and cilantro (coriander) salsa, a big bowl of guacamole, and as an extra special treat, the delicious, smoky roasted Poblano peppers.
So it is September in the English countryside. Or is it?
More soon. Don’t forget, I love to hear your thoughts and comments. P.
The summer feels like a long distant memory now, with the blustery autumn winds swirling the leaves off of the trees and a sharp cold bite in the air. It is a beautiful time of year even so. Still, we all felt in need of some warming up and what better way to do that than with a dose of chilli pepper and warming spice.
This West Indian curry has been our little boy’s favourite dish since he was tiny. He likes his curry quite spicy, but you can adjust the heat to suit. Just leave out the chilli pepper and use a mild curry powder for a gentle version of this fragrant, yummy curry. You can also add potatoes or other veggies like carrots or peas if you like. We serve the curry wrapped in large flatbreads called roti, but it is also great with rice.
2 spring onions or a small bunch of chive
a sprig of fresh thyme
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lime
1 small chilli pepper, choose mild or hot to suit – or leave out if you prefer
a pinch of salt
600g chicken, boneless and skinless, breast or thigh, cut into large pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons mild curry powder (madras)
1 cup of chicken stock – or a cup of water and one organic stock cube
How to prepare the curry:
- Finely chop the onion, herbs, garlic, lime, chilli (if using) and salt to make a thick marinade. I often use a mini chopper or blender to do this quickly. In a large bowl, mix the chicken pieces together with this blend and allow to marinate for half and hour, or longer.
- Warm the oil gently in a large heavy based pot. (I use one that can also go in the oven as I like to let the curry simmer slowly in the oven later – although you can do the whole thing on the stovetop.) Add the brown sugar and curry powder and gently fry in the oil for a minute or so to release the flavour of the spices.
- Add the chicken and marinade mixture to the pan and stir well together. Add the chicken stock and stir well again.
- Bring the curry to a vigorous simmer and then immediately turn the heat down very low, cover and simmer gently for about an hour. Or, bring it up to a simmer, cover, and put the pot in a low oven (160 degrees C) to simmer for about an hour.
- Check occasionally to make sure the curry is not getting too dry – if it is, just add a bit more water.
- Serve with rice, (or roti bread if you can find it). Garnish with chopped fresh herbs, flaked coconut, and/or raisins if you like!