I made ‘rechad’ spice paste today. It’s a recipe from Goa; Goa was a Portuguese colony, and the name is apparently from the Portuguese recheado, ‘to stuff’, because the Goans use it to stuff fish*. I used some of it tonight to make a particularly good Goan seafood curry called ambot tik which uses the paste with some tamarind to make a hot, fragrant, sour dish. I got both recipes from Madhur Jaffrey’s Flavours of India. Her ambot tik recipe uses squid; I made it with prawns today.
I’ve made the paste a few times before, but I noticed something today. Her recipe calls for ‘about 45’ dried chillies, and even the first time I made it I thought that seemed a lot and toned it down to about 15. That still makes something with a kick to it, and my ambot tik tonight seemed quite hot enough to me. But actually the recipe calls for ‘1oz of dried chillies (about 45)’. She’s clearly using chillies which are bigger and heavier than mine – I’ve got the little tiddly ones, and 45 of them barely weigh enough to register on the scales. I weighed out an ounce, and I reckon my paste is about one-twentieth as fiery as her recipe suggests.
Even allowing for variable hotness in the chillies, all I can say is: OMG. Those Goans are like superheroes with lips and tongues and throats and indeed whole digestive tracts of steel.
*Similarly, ‘vindaloo’ is derived from ‘vin d’alho’ because it’s derived from a Portuguese dish made with wine and garlic.