Known as Mother Nature’s sting, chilli peppers are electrifyingly hot. And devious.
Eating them will rev up your metabolism, heart rate, body temperature and mood for Barry White. Legend tells us that the great Aztec emperor Montezuma necked a chilli chocolate drink in preparation for visits to his lady friends. There could be something in that.
Chillies are also great for the blues. The compound capsaicin helps hotwire our feel-good endorphins, easing stress and massaging nerves. Think of it as sunshine for the veins. Capsaicin also distracts the chemical responsible for transmitting pain messages to the brain. Have some at hand when opening your next visa bill. Or treat yourself to this mojo.
If you don’t like setting your mouth alight, here are a few tips on keeping the sweating and swearing at bay. Never drink water, beer or wine to calm the fire in your mouth. This will only enhance the storm. Take olive oil, egg yolk or something fatty to absorb its blaze. Greek yoghurt is often used to help dilute a chilli’s enthusiasm. And finally, be sure to wear industrial mascara to weather the floods of tears.
As soon as I met Rojo, I knew it was love. My chest swelled, my lips burned, and I began levitating at the table. He is from Moro restaurant, and works for Sam and Sam Clarke. Such is his popularity, he’s rarely available. This is despite having a permanent fixture on Moro’s menu.
So here it is. An adaptation of Moro’s legendary Mojo Rojo, designed to do funny things to our thighs.
2 large red peppers, 3 medium
1 red chilli
3 slices rye or gluten-free bread, crustless
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 fresh bay leaves, stalks removed
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon raw honey, coconut nectar or maple syrup
Deseed the peppers, and roughly chop into chunks. Roast on a baking tray with a little olive oil for 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees.
Roughly chop the bread into cubes like croutons. Lightly fry in a little olive oil for 60 seconds.
Then deseed your chilli and finely chop its flesh. Add everything to a high-speed food processor. Briefly pulse into a smooth dip, and serve in a pottery dish. You could thin it down with a few tablespoons of water or lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. Or use Greek yoghurt if the chilli is too loud.
We love ours besdie a lazy 10-hour shoulder of lamb, or with soba noodles mixed through some courgetti. Fix a small courgette to a spiruliser, and kabam! Spaghetti from courgette. Fat carrots work really well too. If you don’t fancy forking 30 quid out for another kitchen gadget, you could use a potato peeler to scrape ribbons from the vegetables instead.
After this piece was published, spirulisers were sold out on Amazon and kitchen stores across Dublin! Thank you Irish Times!