Chilli peppers have been shown to reduce cholesterol and the risk of blood clots. Cultures where hot chillies are used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism. Chilli powder also clears sinus congestion, boosts immunity and helps to stop the spread of prostate cancer cells.
Chilli and yoghurt prawn skewers
Crush 1 x 3cm piece grated ginger and 3 garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar to make a paste. Place 12 large, raw, peeled and deveined prawns in a large bowl and sprinkle with ½ tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp salt, the juice of 1 lemon and the crushed ginger and garlic. In a bowl, combine 100g yoghurt with 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander and some black pepper. Coat the prawns in the yoghurt mixture and refrigerate for one hour. Thread the marinated prawns onto skewers and cook on a hot griddle pan (or barbecue) for 3-4 minutes per side until pink and just cooked through. Squeeze over some lemon juice and scatter with fresh coriander to serve.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C fan/gas mark 6. Place 2 x drained 400g tins of chickpeas in a bowl and toss with 4 tbsp olive oil, 5 tsp chilli powder and 1½ tsp sea salt (adjust the amounts of chilli powder and salt to your taste). Spread the chickpeas out in a single layer over two baking trays. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until crispy. Squeeze over some lime juice and serve hot.
Indian scrambled eggs
Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil and a knob of butter in a small non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Add ½ a chopped onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, ½ a chopped tomato, 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, a pinch of chilli powder and some salt and black pepper. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the egg mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes, scrambling gently with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat when they are slightly less cooked than you would like, as their heat will keep them cooking on your plate. Serve with toast or naan bread.
Spicy slow-cooked baked beans
Rinse 200g dried pinto beans under cold water, then place into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to soak overnight, then drain. Heat a heavy pot over a medium heat and cook 400g chopped thick-cut streaky bacon for 3-4 minutes until the fat has rendered out. Add 2 deseeded and chopped green peppers and 1 chopped onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to brown. Add 4 crushed garlic cloves and cook for another 30 seconds, then add the beans. Cover with chicken stock by about 2cm. Bring to a boil, then add 60g brown sugar, 4 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp mustard, 1 tbsp chilli powder and 1 tsp each of salt and black pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 hours until the beans are tender and the liquid is thick.
Makes 28-30 truffles
Place 220g good-quality dark chocolate into a large heat-proof bowl. Heat 250ml double cream in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in ¼ tsp chilli powder and ¼ tsp salt. When bubbles have formed at the edges of the pan, remove it from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Leave the chocolate to stand for five minutes, without stirring, until it looks soft. Whisk until smooth and shiny. Use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon to scoop out small amounts of the chilli-chocolate ganache, then shape them into balls with your hands. Roll them in cocoa powder until they are all well-coated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.