What’s not to like about deep-fried chilli bread?

The Book
Red Hot Chilli Pepper| Jenni Fleetwood (ed)
(Anness Publishing, 2001)

The Recipe
Chilli Pooris

The Reason
I’ve had this book for like a decade. Like most of my cookbooks, it’s just sat in the cupboard, but as it is, I think, the first cookbook I bought of my own accord, it’s worth another look. I got it when my old housemate was a member of one of those weird book clubs that make you buy more books or they’ll steal your children. Considering its provenance, it’s not bad. Actually, that’s not fair; it’s a great book in its own right.

It’s got what I love in cookbooks, which is loads of background information. The origin of chillis, how to grow and store them, explanation of the Scoville scale, and so on and so on. Not all of it was new information to me, but it’s still nice to have it there. And to say the book is generously illustrated would be an understatement. Every recipe (140+) has colour photos, not just of the end result, but of the cooking stages as well. It’s the sort of book that makes me want to be a food photographer. (That is TOTALLY a job. Stop looking at me like that.)

I went for the chilli pooris because, well, they look good, and also because I wanted to make something savoury. Also, I figured just making a stir-fry or something was a bit lazy, so I should branch out. Also: it’s deep-fried chilli bread. What more recommendation do you need?

The Cooking
Yeah, I say that stir-fry is lazy and then make something that just involves making dough. I’m not exactly stretching myself to the culinary limit here. It seemed a remarkably small amount of chilli – half a teaspoon of chilli powder in half a pound of flour – but I guess they’re going for warmth without overpowering the flavour. The diced chilli fresh chilli should add a little kick, I guess.

I’m not good at deep-frying it turns out. It’s hard to keep the oil at an even temperature, for one. I was excited that I got to use my slotted spoon that I bought for the sole purpose of deep-frying. Such is what passes for excitement in my life. They all cooked well enough, although some got more done than others, as the oil get hotter despite my best efforts at moderating it. (I don’t know how anybody cooks on electric hobs. It was hard enough doing this with the instantly adjustable gas, doing it on a hob that retains the heat would be a pain in the arse. I guess the newest electric hobs are a lot better about that, but still. Gas all the way.

The result
They’re … fine. They don’t really deserve a photo. They’re just kind of little bread nuggets. They taste not bad. I think they need a bit more chilli powder, or some more herbs and spices, or something, if they’re going to be used as snacks. Oregano might be good. For an accompaniment to curry or even stews and stuff, I think they’d be really good.

And it’s occuring to me that they’re incredibly moreish, because I’m going to go and now stuff them in my mouth like a pig.

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