Monday, 12 November 2012

Taste report Ethiopian Brown

I am ashamed to say I don’t know who offered me those seeds, but I do have to say thank you !
The name got a bit puzzled and I had to see what came out. There are 2 varieties that closely resemble each other, the Ethiopian Brown and the Berber Hot chilli. After the fruits started to form, it was obvious; it really is the Ethiopian Brown as the pods form hanging down. The Berber hot, is growing up, so got that covered and the name has proven to be right.

This plant forms irregular, a bit wrinkled pods that slowly sort off fold out to a point you might think they will get totally smooth, but they don’t. Funny looking chillies that stay green a long time, then start to slowly show some brownish red or reddish brown. If the sun is covered with clouds, they really are brown, but if the sun gets to them the red shines through the brown. Stunning, almost looking like a chestnut that just dropped with the husk split showing the lovely colours inside. I tried to catch this colour in a photograph, and this took me a long time, but they are beautiful.

It seems to be a rather rare chilli and it is huge. Most measure 12/15 cm and 3/4 cm wide. Unfortunately I can not find too much about them, other than being used in the Berber kitchen. Stews and such, slow roasts pots and being roasted they seem to have multiple uses.

When digging in, I noticed this is a complex chilli to taste and describe. I never go for looks, and try not to be fooled by appearances; I am not the best looker either even though I got good taste. This chilli without any doubt has dark tastes, combined with good sweets, and even a hint of chocolate. Now this said, I started to doubt myself; did I get fooled by the looks? You know, the association one has with looks, so tasted it again. I was pretty sure, but as a check gave my wife a bite, without telling what it was. She doesn’t know too much about chillies but her first comment was; is this chocolate chilli?
So, she had the same idea, without knowing what it was. The basic tastes this chilli has are: sweets, fruits, herbs, ground tones and a slight but very pleasant bitter. This is why I had the idea of chocolate, milk chocolate, the bitter you find in chocolate and sweet coffee.

The one down-point from this beautiful chilli is its skin; it is rather tough or hard. Looking at the taste and its odd but beautiful appearance, it is a need to have chilli I would not mind roasting and peeling. In a mortar it would make a great pepper paste, adding a bit of sea salt and a touch of garlic.
This chilli is great dried as well, with its taste not changing that much, so would make great flakes or powder.

Sincerely yours,

Bart J. Meijer

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