Red chili powder with heat control

What one wants in a red chili powder is for it to be chock-full of that savory, papery chili flavor, but only as hot as one can handle. How to achieve that? The answer is so obvious in retrospect that I almost feel bad about writing it down, but honestly, it has taken me this long to come up with it, so I think it is worth putting down.

There are all kinds of dry chilies available in the market. Some are sweet, some are moderately hot, and some scream. The trick is to combine them. Here is a rough proportion:

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Here I have used 3 large aji amarillo chilies, which is a kind of not very hot Peruvian orange chili, dried; and I have used several of the dried cayennes, which are very hot. Ground up together, the larger ones will add a lot of flavor which harmonizes with the flavor and heat of their smaller cousins, to make a somewhat medium hot spice.

With chilies, by the way, a good rule of thumb is, the smaller the hotter.

Dry saute them in a hot pan for a few minutes, turning with tongs, until they are blackened. As they roast, they might make you cough, so turn up the hood if you have one, or else open windows. Turn off the gas when you have something that looks like this.

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OK. Handling these packets of multi-pronged heat carefully, remove the stems, and if you want, the seeds and ribs. I shake them off, but I am by no means scrupulous about it.

They are roasted so they will break easily. Put them into a spice grinder (I use a coffee grinder I save only for spices) and grind until you have a fine powder.

A few tablespoons powder is what I got, and I believe it will last for about four to five uses. To save, put it into a small glass jar and for god’s sake, label and date it! You will love yourself later.

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2 thoughts on “Red chili powder with heat control

  1. that is a great idea–If the batch is particularly fiery, I’ve just been opening up the dried pods and removing some of the seeds. Your way gets more chili flavor packed into the food.


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