The term chile (chili) is a complex. It can refer to: 1) a large number of fresh capsicum pods of varying heat levels; 2) the dried and/or smoked pods; 3) the same pods in powdered form (with or without the seeds); and 4) varied spices blends that include one or more of the powdered chilies as a main ingredient.
Chile pods are a multifarious ingredient, and the same pepper in a different form can greatly change the flavor of the final product. A dish can use only the fresh peppers, or the dried pods, or a combination of the two. For this meal, I will be using only fresh peppers in the vegetables dish; the meat dish will have only the dried pods; and finally, my chili con carne will have a combination of fresh and dried peppers.
California chilies are the dried pods of fully ripe Anaheim peppers. These are fairly mild as chile peppers go. If there can be a Chili Colorado, I can make a Chili California, by using them as the spice blends’ primary chile.
Note: Chili Colorado is made with New Mexican chile pods, which are also the dried ripe pods of Anaheim chilies, but they have been selected to be hotter than the California variety.
In this case, chili powder is the blend of seasoning used to make my chili with beans. Commercial chili powder is frequently bulked up by adding a lot of salt, so it is a good idea to make your own. The basic recipe calls for ground dried chilies, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Many homemade American versions use only paprika and cayenne, which are easily available in most stores. You may use pre-ground chile, if that is all that is available to you, but it is always better to start with the dried pods. Some chefs use a variety of dried chilies in their recipes, seeking the perfect combination of complex flavors and heat.
After Dinner Note: When I had finished making this chili powder, it smelled “right.” It turned out to be very mile (heat-wise). As a result, I was able to use a fir amount to make a very spicy chili, that was not too hot to eat. If you want a hotter chili powder add more Arbol chile.
Karl’s Chili California Powder
3 dried California chilies, roasted, seeded and powdered (about 2 Tbs.)
2 dried Guajillo chile, roasted, seeded and powdered (about 2 tsp.)
1 dried Arbol chilies, roasted, seeded and powdered (about ¼ tsp.)
1 tsp. cumin, toasted and powdered
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
½ tsp. black pepper corns
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
1. In a dry skillet, over medium high heat, toast the chile pod briefly.
Tip: This only takes a few seconds and the point between toasted and burnt is very short. Discard any burnt pods and try again.
2. Remove the stems, seeds and membranes and tear the chilies into small pieces.
Tip: It is a good idea to process the arbol chile separately, so you can control the heat of the mix. This is a very hot chile and a little goes a long way.
3. Process the chilies into a fine powder.
4. In a dry skillet, toast the cumin and pepper corns for one minute, until fragrant. Process them to a fine powder.
5. Put all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mix well.
Note: This recipe makes about five tablespoons of chili powder.