What happens when you steep green chillies in yoghurt or buttermilk and dry them in the sun? - a pale dry chillie (on the cutting board above) that travels and keeps well - and can become a great garnish or topping.
I spent some time getting acquainted with curd chillies yesterday. Friends gave me a package of them at a dinner on Friday (thanks, Sonja & Jarda!) and I followed their instructions to fry them to a crisp in very hot oil, where they become dark brown (see them in the bowl above) and become ready to use.
Fry up a few at a time and use immediately for the perfect chilli-flake taste to add to dishes, raitas & katchumbars, veggie dishes, toppings for meats and even tacos & pizzas. They're going into my Mario Battali- inspired cauliflower pasta.
It's worth the two minutes of fuss for this concentrated and complex, salty hit of flavour. It's definitely in the category of great kitchen secrets. "How did you get that flavour?" I'm going to throw out those plastic-chip flavoured chilli-flakes that come in a bottle.
Some research on the web helped reassure me about the process. Searching for 'curd chillies' got me into the world of Indian foodblogs which are absolutely delightful. Here's a great article on curd chillies.