Imagine you’re on the top of a hill. Its raining, cold breeze tingling your skin and freezing your fingers. You’ve just stopped for a minute to absorb all the green beauty around you after an arduous trek to get there. You’d be craving for a hot cup of cocoa or a some coffee, right?
But on this one trek to Meghane Peak, chillies satisfied my cravings. Chillies!
Native to the western ghats, these tiny chillies- a green and milder version of a birds eye chilli- are extremely spicy, but very herbaceous. Roasted and sprinkled with a little bit of salt, they burn the tip of your tongue, but explode with immense flavor as you bit into it. Very similar to what a cup of cocoa does to your cravings.
Let me explain..
When you drink a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day, the tip of your tongue burns, the good kid of burn. The sweetness coats your palate and the creaminess warms your mouth. There is an immediate “feel-good” feeling that resonates through your body. Plus there is the hot cup warming your hands, making it all the more perfect.
On a trek to to Meghane Peak, situated in the Saravathi Valley (Karnataka), we foraged these chillies in the garden of the family that gave us some space to have our lunch at their cottage. They were nice enough to grill those chillies for us on an open coal fire and then also let us taste some of the organic brown salt they had freshly ground. We were served luke warm rice pilaf, these roasted chillies and a spicy pickle for lunch. A bite of the chilli, a gust of cold air, tiny droplets of rain moistening your food, it was the best way to eat a chilli, if at all there is one! I might have had at least ten of them, at one point there were tears in my eye. I think I ignored it!
Keeping chillies as the focus, I tried to incorporate it in breakfast with this chilli- rum infusion(?)
This is a basic eggs, spinach and bread breakfast, but with tweaks. The creamed spinach was enhanced with a dollop of creme fraiche (instead of the white sauce) and nutmeg, placed comfortably on two perfectly toasted buttered slices of brioche bread. The sauce on the top is basically red chilli flakes, shallots cooked in dark rum on low flame and seasoned with salt and a few crystals of brown sugar. The reduced sauce (flambe for better flavor) can be used as a condiment. There is smokiness, that rich rum flavor and all the savory goodness that envelopes around creamy egg yolk and the spinach.