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How to use Whole Dried Kashmiri Chilli In Your Cooking

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

In the annals of culinary history, few spices have captured the imagination quite like the Kashmiri red chilli. Revered for centuries as an essential ingredient in Indian cuisine, these small, but mighty, peppers boast a rich and complex flavour profile, infused with fruity notes and a smoky heat that dances on the tongue. Indeed, they are a testament to the ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine, revered for their health benefits as much as their culinary prowess. In this blog post, we will delve into the storied history and intricate cultivation of Kashmiri red chillies, explore their unique flavour and heat profile, and examine the many benefits of using whole dried chillies over their powdered counterparts. Whether you are a seasoned chef or a curious home cook, join us on this gastronomical journey to unlock the secrets of this timeless spice.

Flavour Profile and Heat Level of Kashmiri Red Chillies

The Kashmiri red chilli is a spice of unparalleled complexity, with a flavour profile that tantalizes the senses. These small but mighty peppers are infused with a fruity sweetness that is balanced by a smoky depth of flavour, making them an essential ingredient in many dishes.

But what about their heat level? How does it compare to other chillies on the Scoville scale, which measures the intensity of the heat in peppers?

Kashmiri red chillies fall on the milder end of the scale, with a heat level of around 1,000-2,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). This makes them significantly less fiery than other popular varieties like jalapeños or bird's eye chillies, which can range from 2,500-8,000 SHU and 50,000-100,000 SHU, respectively.

Despite their mild heat, however, Kashmiri chillies should not be underestimated. Their unique flavor and depth of character make them a staple in many Indian dishes, adding a touch of smoky sweetness to everything from curries to chutneys.

So if you're looking to add a bit of kick to your cooking without overwhelming your taste buds, look no further than this. Its fruity and smoky notes are sure to impress even the most discerning of palates.

Whole Kashmiri Red Chilli
Dried Kashmiri Chilli Whole

Cooking with Whole Kashmiri Red Chilli

These little red wonders pack a punch when it comes to flavour and heat, and have a distinctive earthy sweetness that sets them apart from other chillies. Let's dive into the culinary uses of whole dried Kashmiri red chillies, and how to prepare them for cooking.

How to prepare Kashmiri Chilli For Cooking

First things first, before using whole dried Kashmiri red chillies in your cooking, it is important to prepare them properly. Begin by removing the stems and seeds, as these can be tough and unpleasant to eat. If you want to use them for powdering then toast the chillies lightly in a dry pan, stirring frequently, until they become fragrant and slightly darker in colour. This step brings out the natural oils and intensifies their flavour. Once toasted, allow them to cool before grinding them into a fine powder and voilà! You are now ready to add them to your dish. To make a paste soak them in warm water to rehydrate them for about 15 minutes and then grind the chillies to form a beautiful deep red chilli paste.

Kashmiri red chilli paste
Kashmiri Red Chilli Paste

Cooking with Dried Kashmiri Red Chilli

Rogan Josh - Rogan Josh is a rich and flavourful lamb curry from the Kashmir region. The Kashmiri red chillies in this dish provide a vibrant red colour and mild heat, making it a perfect introduction to Indian cuisine for those who are new to spices. When it comes to preparing Rogan Josh, we start by soaking the Kashmiri whole chillies in hot water for a few minutes to soften them. Once they are soft, we remove the stems and blend them into a smooth paste, which is then added to the lamb curry during the cooking process. The Kashmiri whole chilli paste not only adds a gorgeous colour to the Rogan Josh but also imparts a unique flavour to the dish that cannot be replicated with any other ingredient. It brings a subtle heat that enhances the natural flavours of the lamb, and the resulting dish is an explosion of complex, rich flavours that will leave your taste buds dancing.

rogan josh with kashmiri chilli
Rogan Josh using the fiery Kashmiri Chillies

Vindaloo - Another classic dish that features these chillies is Vindaloo, a fiery curry from Goa that is known for its intense heat and complex flavour profile. The Kashmiri red chillies in this dish provide a deep, smoky flavour that complements the spices and vinegar used in the recipe. The Kashmiri whole chilli paste gives Vindaloo its characteristic fiery red colour, and the heat it brings is not just hot but complex, with a depth of flavour that adds to the dish's overall taste. When combined with other spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, the chilli paste creates a bold and vibrant flavour profile that is unmistakably delicious.

Tempering - Kashmiri whole chillies can be used in tempering to add a subtle heat and depth of flavour to the dish. Here is how to use Kashmiri whole chillies in tempering. Simply heat oil or ghee in a pan over medium-high heat. Add Kashmiri whole chillies to the hot oil or ghee and fry for a few seconds until they turn slightly darker in colour and release their aroma. Add other whole spices like cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and curry leaves to the pan and continue to fry for a few more seconds until the spices release their flavours and aromas. Pour the tempered spices and oil or ghee over the prepared dish, such as dal or vegetables, and stir well to evenly distribute the flavours. Kashmiri whole chillies can also be used in tempering for snacks and appetizers like poha (flattened rice), chaat, and samosas. The tempering adds a burst of flavour to these dishes, making them more delicious and appetizing.

Mexican and Thai Cuisine - Why limit yourself to Indian cuisine? Whole dried Kashmiri red chillies can also be used in a variety of non-Indian dishes, such as Mexican and Thai cuisine. In Mexican cuisine, these chillies can be used in salsas, sauces, and marinades to add a unique depth of flavour and mild heat. And in Thai cuisine, they can be used to add a touch of sweetness and colour to curries and stir-fries.

The culinary uses of whole dried Kashmiri red chillies are truly endless and its not just any ordinary spice. It is a culinary gem that has the power to transform any dish into a flavor-packed masterpiece. From traditional Indian curries to modern fusion cuisine, this versatile ingredient has a place in every kitchen. Its vibrant colour, mild heat, and unique smoky flavour make it a favourite of chefs and foodies alike. So, next time you're in the mood to experiment with new flavours and spice up your cooking game, don't forget to reach for the whole Kashmiri chilli in your pantry. Your taste buds will thank you for it!

A rice dish served with a chutney prepared using Kashmiri chilli

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