Chile, capsicum, paprika, pimento, red pepper, aji, cayenne pepper, piri-piri... a chilli by any other name will be just as fiery. Or not-there are some chillies that produce a mild tingling of the tongue and most others that set your mouth on fire. Who would have thought that this fruit (yes, fruit.) that is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking was virtually unknown to our subcontinent till the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama landed at Goa in the 15th century. Since then, chillies have been rapidly absorbed into Indian cuisine, which today appears bland and characterless without their sharp bite. So indispensable are they to the Indian palate, that today India is the largest producer of chillies. From their fi rst South American origins, chillies have evolved and multiplied to over 400 varieties all over the world. In India some of the most common are Bedgi, Kashmiri, Sankeshwari, Guntur, Naga Jolokia, Dhani, Hindpur, Ellachipur Sannam, Kanthari-White, Madras Pari, Tomato Chilli (Warangal Chappatta). Of these the Naga Jolokia that grows in Tezpur, Assam, has the distinction of being the world's hottest chilli. This potent fruit, a member of the capsicum family, starts out green and then turns fl aming red when it ripens. Dried at that stage it can be used whole to season a dish, ground with spices to form a rich red paste or crushed to a fi ne powder. When green, chillies add a delicate, fresh heat and crunch to curries and kababs. Mirch Mazaa celebrates the chilli and the sheer enjoyment it provides to our taste buds. I have put together a collection of recipes based on this hot favourite, which I have chosen from cuisines across the world. Try out the delicious Goan Chilli Chicken, crisp Mozzarella-stuffed Chillies, wholesome Chilli-Garlic Noodles, yummy Chilli-Garlic Okra, delectable Mirchi ka Salan or luscious Mirchi Murgh and you will be coming back for more.
All the recipes are meant for four portions when they form a part of a menu that has other complementary dishes. As you will see, all the recipes are written in a simple step-by-step manner which you will find very easy to follow. So turn the heat up and serve yourself a generous portion of mazaa that only a mirch can generate.