Dhaniya, Pudina aur Mirch ki Jam
Cumari Pepper with Herbs Jam
Pear, sugar, mint, coriander, cumari pepper, lemon
Lamb, cured meats, cheese
At first, you sense an herbal freshness that comes from a delicate mix of mint and coriander. Then you start to experience the heat as the cumari pepper reveals itself, creating an explosion of sensations that excites your imagination. This jam is a must-try for those who love exotic flavors. It pairs well with roast or grilled meat (especially lamb), and it can be used as a dip with cheese and on charcuterie boards.
Visiting India was a dream of mine since I was a teen; one that only at the age of 47 could I accomplish. And I must say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The millennia of culture, the past infused into every aspect of day-to-day life, the loveliness of people and – of course – the food made my stay magical. I think I ate all day long, small bites at each street corner, continually delighted by the spices and with the colors. Ah but I had a secret weapon: my friend, Rohit, guiding me through the vast maze of gallis (small alleys) in Delhi as I could not say more than one word in Hindi. He would passionately teach me about each dish we had on the streets, explaining how they were prepared and how to eat them. A flavor I especially remember and loved was a spicy chutney made with fresh coriander and mint leaves, which I came to learn is a typical combination in Northern India. Once home in Brazil, I made two immediate decisions: to learn Hindi and to learn to cook Indian food. I made a mint-coriander chutney but it did not have a long enough shelf-life for it to be a viable addition to the product line. But I knew I could use this chutney as a reference point from which I could develop a new jam. Pear somehow made sense as the base fruit, and I chose to spice it with Cumari pepper to give it a Brazilian touch and a moderate-to-high degree of heat. It is a fusion of global flavors at its best.
Cumari pepper is native to Brazil and yields small oval green fruit. It is moderately spicy, ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 points on the Scoville Scale.
Pears are a fruit of Asian origin, and they are one of the most consumed fruit species in the world. In Brazil, they are grown in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.
Mint (Pudina, in Hindi) is an aromatic plant in the same family as lavender. Mint leaves are rich in essential oils. This makes the mint plant a very common ingredient in infusions to which, for centuries, medicinal effects have been attributed. When it is in season, mint from our backyard is used in preparing this jam.
Coriander of Chinese parsley (Dhaniya in Hindi) is a herb widely used in India to season meat and to prepare sauces and gravy. In Brazil, it is most commonly used in the states of the Northeast and North Regions.