Fresh spice blends, pastes and sauces are an essential element in many Indian dishes. The longer I immerse myself into the art of Indian cooking, the more I find myself making my own preparations. A complexity is imparted to the food that simply cannot be recreated by using ready-made versions produced outside of the kitchen of the cook looking to add a unique touch. And for the most part, the effort involved is minimal.
This recipe does come with a warning. The spicier the better is my motto, but even I was gulping water and spooning some cooling yogurt into my mouth to ease the heat after tasting a scant 1/2 teaspoon of this pungent, fiery paste on its own. When incorporated into curries and their accompaniments, however, the heat is a necessary and sufficient condition. This potent paste has the advantage of lasting for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, and can be stored in the freezer too.
I made a small batch in preparation for scalloped potatoes with coconut milk and chilies and also added a spoonful to some scrambled chickpea flour. All three recipes are inspired by Raghavan Iyer's gloriously indispensable 660 Curries. Honestly, I can't recommend this collection highly enough.
|Red Chili and Vinegar Paste (Balchao Masala)|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Adapted from 660 Curries
Published on April 6, 2009
A simple, fiery and pungent chili and vinegar paste — great for keeping around to add to soups and curries
Chana Masala Powder
Hot Green Chili Sauce