Six sticks of belly-thawing, chilli-led greatness, delivered to your frozen face by Harneet Baweja, capsicum lord and founder of restaurants Gunpowder and Gul & Sepoy
SWEETLY SQUEALIN’ PIG AND PEACH POLES
What you need: Pork medallions (large chunks), fresh peaches (halved, destoned), cayenne pepper (deseeded and chopped), lime juice, sugar, coriander (chopped), salt, pepper, olive oil.
How to do it: Combine cayenne pepper, lime juice and sugar to taste to make a thick paste, then stir in olive oil, chopped coriander and salt and pepper (again, to taste). Apply the mix to the pork and the peach (in separate bowls) and leave it in the fridge for three hours. Thread on to the skewers, and cook in a griddle pan until the pork is cooked. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped coriander.
Why it works: “The slight sweetness and heat of cayenne pepper complements most meats, but of them all it’s pork that it loves most. Together, they’re a classic barbecue duo – smoke works so well with them both. The coriander is there for a fresh kick, but also to help get mouths watering as it hits the pan with that lime and sugar.”
PIRI PANEER PILEDRIVERS
What you need: Paneer (cubed), courgette (sliced thickly), red bell peppers (cubed), piri-piri marinade (half a cup veg oil, 2 bird’s-eye chillies, 1 onion, 1in of ginger, 4 garlic cloves, 1tbsp sweet paprika, 2tbsp tomato paste, 1tsp salt, 3tbsp white vinegar, 1tsp sugar), butter (melted).
How to do it: Blend the marinade ingredients until smooth. Add to a bowl with the paneer, courgette and peppers. Cover and allow to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes in the fridge. Then thread the vegetables and paneer alternately on to the skewers. Grill them for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat in a non-stick skillet, and drizzle with melted butter. Turn and cook until grill marks begin to show. Before serving, brush with more melted butter.
Why it works: “These are classic Indian barbecue fare. The chillies’ heat, consistency and colour will lift the paneer, which can really handle the heat while still keeping that delicious, rich and creamy flavour.”
HOT BOTI MEAN BOYS
What you need: Lamb (trimmed and cubed), papaya (cubed), bell peppers (diced), red chilli powder, butter (melted), boti marinade (1tbsp ginger paste, 1tbsp garlic paste, 2tbsp raw papaya paste, half tsp green chilli paste, half tsp red chilli powder, quarter tsp garam masala powder, salt).
How to do it: Mix the boti marinade ingredients in a bowl and add your lamb. Coat well and leave in the fridge for a minimum of six hours. Add the butter and red chilli powder (to taste). Then add the meat, peppers and papaya to skewers and cook in a hot skillet until cooked. Keep slathering them with the chilli butter to ensure the lamb stays moist.
Why it works: “The bell peppers provide a great crunchy texture and subtle flavour to the lamb, complementing the meat’s role as the star of the show. The biggest mistake you can make here is not letting it marinate for the full time. Let the lamb soak up all those ingredients, and they’ll bring out the heat in the bell pepper, too.”
What you need: Assorted medium/large mushrooms (sliced, or whole where possible), scotch bonnet (deseeded, chopped finely), lime, oil, sea salt.
How to do it: Add the chilli, lime and oil (to taste) and set aside. Clean the mushrooms with a damp tea towel and add to skewers. Sprinkle with salt and brush with the chilli-lime oil. Drop them into a preheated non-stick skillet pan and grill for 10 minutes, or until they’re cooked through and a nice char has formed. Remove from heat and brush them with the remainder of the oil.
Why it works: “The scotch bonnet is a notoriously spicy one, so serve to heat-seeking pals only. Mushrooms aren’t always associated with spice, but I love this dish for its texture and flavours. Scotch bonnet and lime are good friends, and the mushroom will soak up that flavour. Make sure you get a nice char on them, though. That’s how you get your umami hit.”
RUM-SPIKED PINEAPPLE HOT RODS
What you need: Pineapple, grapefruit, blood orange, ghost pepper (deseeded, cut finely), brown sugar, icing sugar, rum, mascarpone (whisked).
How to do it: For the spiced cream: place icing sugar in a bowl, add the rum and mascarpone cheese and mix until smooth, and set aside. Next, preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cut the fruits into large chunks and thread each piece on to wooden skewers. Next, combine the brown sugar and ghost pepper on a tray, and press the fruit into the mix. Cook in the pan until golden and caramelised. Drizzle with the spiced mascarpone cheese before serving.
Why it works: “We use ghost pepper in a lot of dishes at Gunpowder because its flavour is unrivalled, and its exceptional heat is perfect for spicing up curries. That said, I love using it with pineapple and mascarpone – it balances and brings a sweetness to the fiery power, and it’s the perfect dessert after a spicy meal.”
THE SEXY CATALONIAN
What you need: Rib-eye steak, chorizo, red onion, padron peppers (whole), dried coriander powder, olive oil, garlic (crushed), salt and pepper, powdered red chilli.
How to do it: Slice the steak, chorizo and onion into large pieces and sprinkle with dried coriander powder before adding to skewers with the padrons. Mix the oil, garlic, chilli powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cook the skewers in a very hot skillet until the steak is blushing and the peppers are blistered, liberally brushing with the oil mix throughout.
Why it works: “This is an ode to what is, in my opinion, the finest food city in Europe – Barcelona. I’ve added some spice to give an Asian twist to this classic Spanish dish, and the combination works so well – the spice and saltiness work to create a burst of flavours on the palate that I’ll never get bored of. Oh, and in about one in 10 padron peppers you’ll find a rogue wildly spicy one, so good luck.”
(Photography: Sun Lee, Food Styling: Lucy-Ruth Hathaway)