Well, Wednesday’s post showed the process of smoking and/or drying chilis at home, for eventual use in a special home made chili powder. Today I’ll show the other six ingredients that went into the final product, and give the recipe in case you want to try it yourself.
Another shout out to Jillian at Whisky Drinkin’ Chimney Sweep for putting the idea in my head in the first place.
When we finished up on Wednesday, we had three different varieties of chili powder, waiting to be mixed together. I like the photo of them so much that I’m going to post it again here:
You may remember that I also smoked a clove of garlic, while I had the smoker on the go. Here that is, too:
It’s not as full-on in terms of colour as the last time I smoked garlic, but it was a lot easier to handle since I just left the head whole and put a slit in the edge of each clove, instead of peeling them all and trying to balance them on the smoker rack. The garlic is cooked through as well as smoked, and I used a very sharp knife to cut two cloves into thin slices, which I put on a tray lined with tinfoil and sprayed with oil. I dried these in an oven heated only to 50C, for about an hour and a half, until well dehydrated.
At the same time, I dried out some lime zest. You probably ge the idea of how – I finely grated it onto the same tinfoil lined sheet, and baked at 50C. It only took half an hour to go from your standard lime zest to a really vibrantly coloured and crumbly version of itself.
Those pictures aren’t really the best, but I think you can see the difference in colour, if not texture.
This was the end of the dehydrating – for now, at least. It’s oddly satisfying, I’ll definitely be looking out for an opportunity to do it again. We are up to five ingredients out of nine now – but what are the last four? Well, the first one is another kind of chili – I think they are cascabel chilis, though the packaging gives no indication and I’m basing that on some quick Googling. They are small, round chilis, and they rattle when you shake them because they’re absolutely crammed full of seeds – check this out:
I de-seeded and ground these up to a powder, too. The next thing to go in the spice grinder was all the thyme that I’d put in the bottom of my roasting tin as I dried out my chipotles on the first day. The thyme was extremely dry and infused with Guinness, which I’d been spraying over the chilis to add flavour, and hopefully with some of the smoke and spice from the chilis themselves. I stripped all the leaves from the stems and powdered them. Finally, I used two ingredients straight from the jar – some ground sumac berries, for a fruity, slightly tobacco-ey flavour, and ground cumin, because I’ve often heard it said that a good chili must have cumin in it.
So, let’s recap those ingredients!
As you can see, I ground all the ingredients to a fine powder, except the sumac and cumin which already were ground. Then I scooped it all into a wee jar and shook it like a Polaroid picture until everything was mixed. I had a sniff – it was fragrant, but not in a floral way, in a much more powerful POW kind of way. I had a wee taste. As I remarked on my Facebook, it is hard to properly taste chili powder, but I felt like I could taste the garlic, lime and some kind of cumin-thyme herby combo alongside the smokiness, before the inevitable heat really took hold and I had to reach for a spoonful of yoghurt to calm the situation down.
I’m glad that I de-seeded most of the chilis. While I enjoy spicy food, the point of making my own chili powder was flavour over pure heat. I didn’t want to drown out the more subtle tastes, and I hope I’ve managed to maintain a good balance. I sent half of my chili powder to my Foodie Penpal – you can see what she thinks of it later in the month. For now, I’m trying to think of the perfect way to debut my home-made chili powder.