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Jul 10, 2012 04:42 PM

Dried Red Chilies Substitute

Tomorrow night I'm making a marinade for Pork Vindaloo. The recipe calls for "10 dried red chilies, with half the seeds removed." I can't find dried red chilies, so I plan to use red pepper flakes as a substitute. However, I haven't a clue how much to use. It's probably worth noting that the chili seeds are the main way to control the heat of this very spicy meal. I'm looking for suggestions for how much pepper flakes to use, and I'm open to other suggestions for a substitute - something dry, as the first step in the recipe is grinding the dried chilies with other spices and seeds. Thank you!

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  1. The instruction is sort of vague to begin with in that it does not specify what type of chili, although this might be presumed since it is an Indian dish...?
    Peppers vary in heat even between batches of the same variety which makes it even more of a guessing game. So does chili flake. The tin I have now is not even sort of hot compared with what I bought last time. Anyway, if it were me, I would assume "10 dried red chilies" means small ones and that would equal about 10 tsp. in my head. Obviously adjust to suit your palate and/or taste test the chili flake you have in advance.

    1. Chili seeds are not the hottest part of the chili, the ribs are.
      For a Vindaloo the chilies used would be/or similar to Kashmiri chilies which have a deep ruby red color and a full pepper flavor and not a lot of heat.
      The best substitute is good quality (and a fresh bag)paprika for color and flavor and Cayenne pepper for heat.
      For 10 dry chilies use 2 T. of Paprika and add your Cayenne to taste, remember Vindaloo is usually hot dish, made with Pork and no vegetables (potatoes) but of course make it to your tastes .

      1. Vindaloo is a southern thing, more particularly Goan, though like most Indian dishes some version of it is made all across the country. The peppers called for are most likely the typical dried cayenne peppers commonly found in any Indian grocers.

        The problem with trying to substitute your crushed red pepper is that crushed red pepper in this country varies wildly. I've got some right now that's so mild it's barely noticeable; or there's the stuff that Penzey's sells, varies from 20K scovilles to 40K scovilles.

        The Indian cayenne is right around 30k on the scoville scale.

        I know for a fact the crushed pepper I have in my pantry right now is nowhere near 20k, let alone 30k scovilles.

        I wouldn't feel right to even try to give you a rule of thumb because not only do I not know how hot your crushed red pepper is, I also don't know what your tolerance for that kind of heat really is.

        I went and crumbled up a couple of my dried chilis, and from my very unscientific experiment, I surmise that an average size red chili might be roughly equivalent to about 1/3 tsp of crushed chili. This is based on the fact that my crumbled-by-hand chilis averaged out to about 1/2 tsp, but your machine crushed chilis will be more compact and take up less space than that (mine are fluffy and don't pack the way the machine crushed stuff will).

        Based on that, you might try about 1 T of the crushed red pepper - but that could turn out to be way too much or nowhere near enough, depending on how hot your crushed red pepper is to start with.