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Jun 3, 2009 01:18 PM

Question about some instructions in a recipe from "660 Curries"

I really like this book and its instructions are usually crystal clear. But I'm a bit stumped by this one. In the instructions it says to place a coarsely diced tomato and 3 or 4 (hot) chiles (stems removed) in a mortar and "pound gently with the pestle until the tomatoes are coarsely crushed and the chiles are flattened, their seeds released to mix with those of the tomato. Fold in the salt and sugar" Later you "add the tomato-chili mixture". It never says anything about removing the chili pods.

In the notes section of the recipe it says that this pounding technique "provides for sublte heat from the bruised peppers; the seeds are barely released and the veins remain intact". So does this sound like I'm supposed to remove the bruised chilis from the tomato mixture? Otherwise when I cook with this aren't I going to get those hot-hot veins? My kids are not spice fanatics so this is likely what I'll do, but I was wondering if anyone is familiar with this particular technique?

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  1. Leave the pods in if you want lots of heat, otherwise remove them. Most Indian recipes are wicked hot and not for the faint of heart but they can be toned down if you know how.

    1. I removed the chilies after pounding them and the tomato puree seems plenty spicy. Flavorfull, with some bite, but not crazy. This particular cookbook seems fairly moderate in terms of spice in past recipes, so I think this might be what was intended.

      1. I think that you are meant to leave the chiles in. It sounds like the chiles were meant to stay in the dish but not be pulverized. the pounding enabled them to let out some flavor but less than pureeing - just think too, keeping them whole would allow you to remove them before serving (or earlier, if you felt the dish had gotten spicy enough). If you had totally smashed the chiles, this kind of adjustment later on would not be possible.