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027: Lal Mirchi and Painting with Red Chillies (Herbs & Spices #8)

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Lal Mirch (Red chilli powder) Part 1

Yayavr Spice Series

In the innocence of childhood, lal mirch powder or red chilli powder was akin to Durga. An intimidating power to be approached with respect. We sometimes tasted a hint of the raw, grainy, deep red powder when it was sprinkled on cut guavas or pineapples along with rock salt. If by chance we touched it, then we would be admonished to wash our hands multiple times, and warned not to touch our eyes. If we forgot, or chose to ignore those orders from the grownups, we would be immediately penalised with an unforgettable sting in our eyes, and a pink rash on our tender skin by this terrifying spice.

Lal mirch was my mother’s go to pigment in the kitchen where she created her culinary artworks. The humble bowl of toovar dal would daily become her landscape canvas. Onto the sea of yellow was heaped her sizzling tadka of ghee. The rouge red paste of the lal mirchi, would complement the brownish-black jeera seeds, and contrast strongly against the spring green of the hara dhaniya leaves. A mini dramatic painting first devoured by our eyes, and then mopped up by pieces of roti.

Image: Taryn Elliott from Pexels

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