This sauce has lingered with me for almost a decade and a half.It was introduced to me though one of my best buddies who had come to India from Thailand to study.This sauce was a staple and a favourite of mine as she bought it with almost anything from meatballs,noodles and fried chicken.Each bite was a complete surprise in itself and I came to love Thai food equal to the food which was cooked at home!
My friend went back after sometime leaving me with beautiful memories of food and good times.When the Internet became a fad,I searched up the recipe for the sauce which she (or her brother who was an awesome cook) prepared.I found it easily and prepared to make it with local Chillies.I experienced lovely tastes but not that which she used to give me.I thought it was our love and friendship which made (without a thought) food taste so awesome.
Recently I made a trip to Mumbai’s famous Crawford Market.There you get anything and everything from around the globe at nominal costs.I found a seller stocking Asian produce.There was Thai,Malaysian and Chinese foodstuffs which I had never seen before.He had Galangal,Lemongrass,Thai Basil,Thai Brinjal,Malaysian Kawan Paratha,packaged Roti Canai,Kaffir Lime Leaves,Thai Bird Chillies,different types of Lettuces,Pork and fish,succulent marinated mutton and seafood like scallops,crab,lobster and shellfish.I got some of all the Thai produce – Bird Chillies,Galangal,Lemongrass,Basil and Brinjal.I wanted to do 2 things with the Chilli – make the sauce and make chilli oil which would be lovely in Chinese and even Italian recipes.Here is what the Thai Bird Chilli looks like :
I made the sauce and yes – I got the same taste as I had got in College under shady Neem trees when she opened her deliciously aromatic tiffin box!I was transported to days long gone when without any care in the world I gambolled,laughed,jumped and danced my way about!When I was completely oblivious to what lay ahead of me in the “adult life of responsibilities”!When I felt the skies bowed down to me,the earth sang praises of me,the water flowed in beauteous harmony as I cupped my hands to drink it,when as a teenager I lived oblivious to “what people thought” and at the same time losing whatever stresses I had while entering the vicinity of my College as I knew I had come into safe territory which would be free of restrictions,barriers,criticism,narcism,negativity and pessimism and where true laughter rang up to the rafters.
I was shaken out of this reverie with a jolt as the doorbell rang only to see a familiar electricity bill popped under the door!The real and monotonous humdrum told me not to go too deep into the past as the present was there for the complete and perfect harassment!I thought the best possible way to escape this for a while was to make the sauce and kick out the unpleasant present moment!
I set to work making the sauce and was fell completely in love with the end product!If you can find Thai Bird Chilli,do not compromise any other Chilli for this sauce.Jalapeno come close but do not give the correct taste!Make it with the less spicy chillies if you are not a fiery spice person.The day you make this sauce it would be really fiery depending on the kind of Chillies you have used.However if you keep the sauce refrigerated,it will mellow down and give a beautiful flavour to everything.You can use it as a dip,a sauce for marination or braising,an accompaniment to Asian rice and noodle recipes and even as an addition to chutneys as I used it in a South Indian Chutney to have with Mysore Bonda!
To Kareema,my friend,philosopher,guide and companion!God Bless you and your lovely family!
Preparation Time : 30 minutes
Mellowing Time : 3 – 4 days
Makes : Approximately 200 ml of sauce
For Paste :
50 gms Thai Bird Chilli
100 ml water
Make the paste :
Remove the Chilli stalks and immerse them in the water in a saucepan.Put on the lowest heat and cover with a lid.Boil for 15 minutes and remove from heat.
DO NOT OPEN THE LID AS YOU MIGHT CHOKE ON THE FUMES
Wait for 30 minutes by which the saucepan would have come to room temperature.drain the chillies into a blender and add 2 tbsp of the boiled water.Make a fine paste which will be used for the recipe below.
NOTE – Keep the sauce stored in a glass or ceramic bottle.Other materials might start dissolving under the fieriness of the Chillies.
For sauce :
3/4 cup white vinegar (I used Apple Cider Vinegar which gave a nice and fruity texture)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp Jaggery
1/2 cup water
4 cloves Garlic – chopped (optional)
2 tbsp Thai Bird Chilli Paste (see method above)
2 tbsp Cornstarch/Cornflour
Mix the cornstarch with the 1/4 cup water and mix well to dissolve.Keep slurry aside.
Take a large saucepan on medium heat and add vinegar,sugar,jaggery,garlic and chilli paste.Bring to a rolling boil.
Add the cornstarch slurry and stir well.It will thicken soon after which take the pan off heat.Empty the sauce in a glass or ceramic pot or bowl.
Cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel and allow to come to room temperature.Refrigerate.
Use as required.