“What’s in those jars?” I asked my pal Rojina at Dhaulaghiri Kitchen the other night. “Oh that’s very spicy, Nepali people eat it with their thali,” she replied. She knows me as someone who does not shy away from the heat of chili peppers. In fact she’d just taught me how to make the popular snack sandheko waiwai and was amazed at how much red pepper powder I added. So when she characterized dalle pickle as “very spicy” I knew it must be no joke.
I’ve always been a chili head so of course I agreed to try it when asked. But first I stared at it for a good while. The entire jar was packed with reddish peppers that resembled habañeros, and had a pleasant pickled aroma. Eventually I plucked two out and took a nibble. Spicy and salty with a roasted flavor, they were pretty good I thought. Then the wave of chili heat hit me and my lips started to burn. I ate the better part of one and swished the milky chai around my mouth to cool the inferno.
“It’s very good with eggs,” Rojina said offering some to a nearby table to eat with their omelet thali. Turns out the dalle pickle is made with a pepper known as the akabare or Himalayan chili pepper, which ranks right up there with the habañero on the Scoville scale. Use it for those rare times when your Nepali food isn’t spicy enough. I know I will.