A winter warmer

Chillis- a member of the nightshade family, is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Capsaicin is the substance that gives chillis their intensity and can vary from sweet, mild to very fiery hot. Chillis like eggplant come in a variety of sizes and colours: Yellow, orange, red, purple, and many shades of green. Broadly speaking chillis are big and sweet [bell peppers] or small and hot. Chili peppers originated in the Americas, many cultivars of chili pepper spread across the world, and are valued both for their medicinal use or as an additive to food. Chillis were said to be brought to Asia by Portuguese navigators during the 16th century.

Many asian cultures use chilli in the preparation of food and it is used in many forms: fresh, crushed, dried, flaked, powdered, pickled, fried and smoked. Generally the smaller the chilli the greater the itensity and heat. In the east, India is one of the biggest growers and users of chilli, and in south east asia Korea and Thailand are also renowned for their use of fiery chillis. Chillis are very easy to grow and have now become popular in Europe as well as Asia.

I like chillis in small doses! I actually have a medical condition gustatory sweatingwhere I break out in a sweat just thinking about chillis: it makes me feel uncomfortable and I get embarrassed by the profuse sweating on my head and face. This is a problem when cooking, writing a recipe or thinking about chillis. I do however love the flavour that chillis impart and use them in small quantities. This recipe for chilli pickle is one that I love. I tend to use the long red and green chillis for the pickle as they are relatively milder than the smaller birds eye chilli. This pickle is very easy to make and keeps well in the fridge. I stir it through a mashed up avocado and also use it in a dip or I spread the pickle on cheese toast, or stir it through cream cheese or hummus. If you prefer a more fiery spicier pickle then make it with the red birds eye chilli, I like the combination of red and green as it looks much more appealing – check out the recipe