Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Paprika:Travel of the chilly … Mathania and beyond

               Being a chef in hotels has a lot of perks, one of them being that the latest food trends and “in” ingredients come to your doorstep via keen purveyors. it helps the hotel chef keep abreast of the latest “power ingredients “ that are moving or will soon enough move the market . 
Of late various forms of paprika seems to be that power ingredient coming in various shades and spiciness. Hungarian Paprika has made good Inroads into a country that produces the most chilly in the world .The Rising Star Award however has to go to the “Spanish” Smoked paprika or pimenton , a sweet deep flavor that gets enhanced by the smokiness imparted during smoke drying as opposed to sun drying.
Yet this is not about Spain or Hungary , this is about a small village 30 Kms outside of Jodhpur on way to the Osian Desert, the village of Mathania . I was introduced to the beauty of the Mathania chilly by Mot Singh , a cook to the Royal Family of Jodhpur . While making Laal Maas he used Mathania chilly paste and bet with me that his laal maas would be redder and sweeter than mine (I was trying it with the Kashmiri degi mirch). Needless to say I lost the bet but gained a lot of respect for this small village. Mathania mirch is indeed the reddest  and the sweetest chilly that I have cooked with In India . One could easily replace the “Half sharp Hungarian “ paprika with this fleshy and low scoviile chilly from the desert.
Oh and here is another reason why you should only use Mathania red in your laal maas – According to a report by Central Arid Zone research Institute , Mathania chilly is on the verge of extinction . The best way to keep it alive is to use it, and trust me you will be amazed with the results.
Considering that Chilly came to India through the Portugese only in 1498 and either travelled upwards from Goa or Eastwards from the middle east to Reach Rajasthan ….. How dated does that make the laal maas ? .. another conversation for another time I guess
Here’s a really cool way to use the Mathania red
Mathania Chilly – strawberry - chocolate mousse
Ingredients
100g/3½oz milk chocolate, chopped
01 strawberry chopped
01 fresh Mathania red chilly deseeded and minced
300ml double cream, whipped to soft peak.
Chocolate glaze to coat
Preparation
Place the chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and heat, until melted.
Stir in all of the chilli and strawberry. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Fold the melted chocolate into the cream in a large bowl, then spoon into a bombe . Chill until needed.

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