May 11, 2012

Chillies galore

Hubs and I love chilli, and are suckers for punishment. To a certain extent, the hotter, the better. When we first visited Vietnam, we found these lovely, flaming yellowish chillies - eat one and a little fire burns in your stomach five minutes later. Whenever Hubs went to Vietnam for work, I'd place an order for Vietnamese tea, coffee and chillies!

cili padi birds eye chillies

Malaysians generally love chilli. If you go to a hawker stall, or eat at a Tai Chow (dishes to order) or eat Bah Kut Teh, you will get cut chilli in a little condiment bowl. I was told of a friend's friend, who is so addicted to chilli, she carried fresh chilli around with her on her tour of Europe. In the Caucasian context though, auto-condimenting with chilli is rude because it's as if the food is not tasty enough... I was eating a habanero pasta dish and the cook sliced up some fresh habanero for us to taste. I absent-mindedly brought some into my pasta plate and the poor cook hastily apologised for the bland food. I hastily explained it's a Malaysian habit to throw cut chilli into every dish and is no way a reflection of the food!

So, chilli being one of the major food groups, it was one of the first things I tried to plant. They are very expensive to buy, the effect of paying something like $1 for one of those birds eye chillies. Chillies are great to plant because you can pluck at will, and don't have to see your precious $1 chilli rotting without you having used it. For vibrancy and taste, there is nothing quite like produce straight off the plant. 

yellow habaneroHowever, the effect of the Australian four season weather is that I now get an abundance of chillies in summer and autumn, and then none in winter and spring. (the plants in fact, do a good imitation of dying in winter) As we near the end of autumn, I now have heaps of chilli, and not a clue what to do with them. We recently got our hands on a habanero plant, and this pepper tops it all. Since a little goes a very, very, very, very long way, I now have enough habaneros to last me 5 years.

Out of desperation, I froze them, made some chilli sauce and chilli jam, and gave some away. But none of that has made a dent on the stock of chillies, and the fruits are still ripening on the tree. 

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