Also known as ‘The Spice King’, Sriram Aylur is Executive Chef of St James’s Park’s The Quilon, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the world specialising in Southern Indian food.
Black peppercorn is a native of India and is believed to have been taken out of Kerala by Vasco da Gama with the permission of the then King of Malabar. Telecherry pepper (the name of a place in Kerala) is considered to be the best, however Vietnam is now the largest producer of pepper in the world. Before the introduction of chillies (by the Portuguese) to India, pepper was the spice used to provide heat in food.
Pepper is considered to be antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic and plays a very important part in Ayurveda medicine due to its healing qualities. For example, pepper powder mixed with honey is a good cure for a bad throat and chest congestion. The decoction of peppercorn, jaggary and coriander seeds boiled with water is a good remedy for congestion, diarrhoea, constipation, etc…
Green peppercorn is the immature peppercorn plucked fresh and can also be used in cooking. It also works well when pickled. However, green pepper is not as intense in flavour or heat as black pepper. White pepper is the black peppercorn without the outer coating. Pink peppercorn is from a different plant altogether, originally from Peru, and lacks the flavour and sharpness of black pepper.
To get the best result out of peppercorn it is a good idea to crush it just before use – this ensures the best flavour and taste. Like all spices it needs to be stored in an airtight container and a cool place.
Its greatest advantage is that it can be used cooked or uncooked, unlike chillies, which, when uncooked, can hurt the back of your mouth.
Peppercorn could be from India, Vietnam, Madagascar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Ecuador, Brazil.
I personally use Telecherry pepper at my restaurant, Quilon. In fact, I import it directly. Here’s a recipe using green peppercorns, which is rarely seen in Indian recipes.
Dakshini Pepper Chicken
Match with Meantime Pale Ale (4.7% ABV)
16 pcs chicken inner fillets
For the marinade
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
- 1⁄4 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 sprig pounded green peppercorns
- 4 pinches of cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp double cream Salt
- 1 tbsp oil
For curried yoghurt
- 2 tbsp yoghurt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 sprig of fried curry leaves
- Wash, clean and pat the chicken dry.
- In a clean bowl, put the yoghurt, ginger garlic paste, black pepper, pounded green peppercorns, cardamom powder, cream and salt. Mix thoroughly and marinate the chicken with this mixture. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.
- Make the curried yoghurt sauce to serve with the chicken.
- Heat the olive oil and add the curry powder, yoghurt, salt and crushed fried curry leaves. Remove from heat, strain and keep cool.
- Heat the griddle or non-stick pan. Sprinkle a little oil and fry the chicken a few pieces at a time. Cook and turn the chicken to cook the other side.
- Remove and serve immediately with curried yoghurt sauce.