Homemade Curd Chilli-Tocco

Curd Chilli: Exploring the Cool and Spicy Delight of South Indian Cuisine

On a hot summer day, coming back home to freshly prepared curd rice with some cut mango pickle, and curd chilli fried in oil on the side to spice up the meal, can make any day a perfect one. Speaking of curd chillies, while it’s a simple side to the meal, its significance in the entire meal stands out due to its peculiar taste. In the world of culinary exploration, there are certain ingredients and techniques that take a simple dish to a whole new level of flavor. One such culinary treasure is the humble sun-dried curd chillies, also known as ‘mulaku kondattam, mormilagai’, or ‘dahi mirchi’’. They are flavour bombs, also a delightful condiment and a testament to the art of preserving and enhancing the flavor of green chillies. Curd Chilli has its roots in the Indian subcontinent, and particularly popular in South India, where curd is a common ingredient in various culinary preparations. 

The Art of Sun-Drying 

Sun-drying is an ancient food preservation method that has been used for centuries in different parts of the world. It involves exposing food to sunlight over an extended period, allowing moisture to evaporate and leaving behind concentrated flavors. This technique is particularly popular in regions with abundant sunlight and a need to preserve seasonal ingredients for year-round use. There are specific vegetables too that are sun dried and made into ‘kondattam’ ready to be fried. Sun dried curd chillies however is preferred by many due to the flavour it brings.  

Preparation 

Homemade Curd Chilli-1-Tocco

Preparing homemade curd chillies is a straightforward process. 

  • Step 1 is to handpick fresh medium sized green chillies, washing thoroughly and patting them dry. 
  • In a bowl, add curd and mix with salt. You may also choose to add any powdered spices to make it more flavourful. Coat the chillies evenly with the mixture. 
  • Place the marinated chillies on a clean, dry surface, such as a tray or a wire rack. Ensure that they are exposed to direct sunlight. 
  • It’s advised to dry the chillies when sunlight is in abundance for even drying. Fluctuating weather may affect the drying time. It may take a few days to weeks for it to dry completely. Rotate them occasionally for even drying.
  • Once dried, it will turn into a light brown shade and touch them to see if it’s dried. Some homemade curd chillies may have a smell when it’s dried but that’s natural and goes away when fried. 
  • The curd chillies in its ready to fry version are then ready and it can be stored in airtight containers for several months. 

Frying: 

  • To complement with your meals, the sun-dried curd chillies are to be fried. Choose oil of your preference and deep fry the curd chillies until it turns dark brown. Do not over fry, or burn it.  

Flavour bomb with your meals  

Sun-dried curd chillies pack a punch of flavor that is both spicy and intensely savory. The sun-drying process concentrates the heat of the chillies while also infusing them with the tangy notes of curd and the earthy nuances of any added spices. The result is a flavor explosion that can transform even the simplest of dishes into a gourmet experience. Curd chillies can be enjoyed as a condiment to spice up your meals. They pair wonderfully with rice, roti, or even as a side with dal. It can also be added to curries and stir-fries especially when tempering for a burst of flavours. It’s a great addition to your snacks such as vada paav, paav bhaji or even pakoras.  

Homemade Curd Chilli 2-Tocco

Potential health benefits of Curd chillies  

Sun-dried curd chillies are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C, which can help protect your cells from oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. It can also bolster the immune system, helping the body fight off infections. It is said that spicy foods can trigger the release of endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress. Chillies can temporarily boost metabolism and increase calorie expenditure, potentially assisting in weight management. There are some published studies which sites how consuming chillies with meals has shown an effect on weight management and can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke.  

A study published in 2016 in Pubmed, speaks of the medicinal importance of chilli peppers and how it can accelerate weight loss through dietary modifications. “To induce weight loss, the active substance of chili, capsaicin, activates Transient Receptor Potential Cation Channel sub-family V member 1 (TRPV1) channels) receptors causing an increase in intracellular calcium levels and triggering the sympathetic nervous system. Apart from TRPV1, chili directly reduces energy expenditure by activating Brown Adipose Tissue”, cites the study. An article that was published in British Heart Foundation journal in 2019 summarises a research that looked into a cohort of 23000 men and women from a specific area in Italy. A questionnaire was circulated to them which asked how many times a week they ate food containing chillies. A senior dietician, Tracy Parker said, “This study is sure to be a hot topic amongst fans of spicy food. Although it suggests that regularly eating chilli peppers could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, further research would be needed to confirm if they are really a key ingredient for a healthy heart.”  

The health benefits of sun-dried curd chillies can vary depending on individual tolerance and overall dietary habits. Incorporating sun-dried curd chillies into your meals can add a burst of flavor and a touch of spiciness while potentially providing some health benefits. However, it's essential to enjoy them in moderation and as part of a balanced diet for optimal results. 

Sun-dried curd chillies are a testament to the culinary ingenuity of preserving and enhancing flavors through simple yet effective techniques. Whether you're a fan of spicy foods or just looking to add an extra layer of flavor to your dishes, these fiery delights are a must-try.

Read our blog on curd chilli FAQs: Curd Chilli FAQs: Your Ultimate Guide to South Indian Delight

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