by Kate Heyhoe
The fiery heat of a chile is concentrated in the seeds, veins and oils of the fruit. Removing the seeds and veins will drastically tame the flavor, which may or may not be desirable.
Cutting into a chile releases oils which also have heat. These oils can burn the eyes and sensitive skin. It is often recommended that rubber gloves be worn when cutting and seeding chiles, and that surfaces be washed thoroughly to prevent the volatile oils from affecting other foods and utensils. Another method used is to coat ones fingers with vegetable oil to protect them from absorbing the chile oil. Be careful, though, because the extra oil makes the chiles and knife more apt to slip and cause accidents.
Rule of Thumb: The smaller the chile, the bigger the heat. The longer and bigger the chile, the milder it will be. But be aware, there are always exceptions to this rule. Many factors besides the breed of chile determine its heat. Soil and growing conditions also affect it and the same plant may produce fruit of drastically different heat.
This spellbinding purée of "greens''—cilantro, mint, peppers, and scallions—is a must in every home.
3 to 5 serrano peppers, to your taste, stems removed
1 fresh poblano pepper, seeded and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
2 cups coarsely chopped scallion greens
3 cups firmly packed cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves, soft stems included
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt, or to your taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro or mint leaves for garnish
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade and the motor running, drop the peppers and scallions through the feed tube and process until smooth. Add the cilantro and mint (in 2 or 3 batches, adding more as each batch gets puréed) and with the motor running, pour the lime juice in a fine stream and blend until smooth. Add the sugar, salt, and black pepper and process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl a few times, until minced. Transfer to a bowl, adjust the seasonings, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
Makes about 2-1/2 cups
This can be a condiment with the main meal, a dip for snacks and appetizers, a glaze for different meats (see Grilled Chicken Thighs Glazed with Cilantro Chutney in tomorrow's Global Gourmet Today), a sandwich spread, a spunky pizza sauce, and a salad partner—the list is endless.
Stays fresh in the refrigerator lo to 15 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months. Freeze in ice cube trays and transfer to freezer bags after frozen.
Chilis To Chutneys
by Neelam Batra
William Morrow 1998
Recipe reprinted by permission
About the Book and a recipe for Grilled Chicken Thighs Glazed with Cilantro Chutney
In addition to Mexico, recipes with chiles (or chillis, hot peppers, etc.) can be found in the cuisines of many other countries. Check out Destinations section, or use our Search feature to find chile recipes from around the world.
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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