We use loads of bay leaves and chilis, especially as there’s a 20 metre-high bay tree here. And a decent bag of chilis costs just 80 cents from a shop at the top of town.
We’ve strung up a branch of bay alongside some chillies, which include scotch bonnets. These can have you crying like a baby if you’re not careful. They’re fairly high up on the Scoville Scale – a measurement of the heat (capsaicin concentration) of a chili, invented by an American pharmacist called Wilbur in 1912. Just a week ago (14 November 2013) the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was overtaken by the Carolina Reaper as the world’s hottest chili pepper. It probably makes the scotch bonnet seem like a ‘spicy’ Pot Noodle.
Stocking up on things reminds us to cook forgotten dishes – like the utterly delicious Massaman curry. It’s an Arabic introduction to Thailand and features both bay leaves and chilies – along with potato, coconut milk, roasted peanuts and spices. We learnt how to make the dish last time we were there but, back home in London, instantly forgot the nuances of how to cook it to ensure it was authentic.
With bay leaves, we normally add them to chicken or beef stews, along with other fresh herbs. Here’s Nigel Slater’s boeuf bourguignon recipe.
Today it’s windy and chilly – perfect for a stew or Massaman curry.
© con jamón spain