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Lyuti chushki (aka Pukani piperki) – Roasted and marinated chili peppers

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Lyuti chushki (aka Pukani piperki) - Roasted and marinated chili peppers

Photo by Antonia Kostova

This recipe is a part of our precious culinary heritage. Chili peppers are so popularin Bulgaria , that almost every family has their own way to marinate them. Naturally, we’ve tried a lot of different variations but to be honest we didn’t go for any other recipe after we tried this one. It’s our favourite! We make them often and for the past two years all practically of our friends have already tried them. Everybody’s impressed and falls in love instantly.

We got this recipe from the region of Kavarna so in brackets appears the original name of the appetizer, the one that’s used in that part of Bulgaria, where we lived for two years.

Normally this kind of appetizers would be prepared in early autumn, since this is harvest season for chili peppers. Lots of people still actually do it, preserving the chilis in jars for the winter. We, however, never succeeded in having that much and usually consume them in a matter of days.

The thing tha makes this recipe for marinated chilis so special for us is the fresh marinade itself. It is so delightfully rich and tasty, so good, that you can eat it by its own, even if you’re not a particular fan of hot and spicy. So, to achieve a really tasty appetizer, pick your peppers according to desired level of kick and follow the ratio as listed below.

Lyuti chushki (aka Pukani piperki) - Roasted and marinated chili peppers

Photo by Antonia Kostova

Bear in mind that the longer the peppers stay in the marinade, the spicier it will get, especially if you decide to put away a batch or two for the cold winter.

Makes around 2 cups of marinated peppers

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

10-12 hot peppers*
3 carrots
4 gloves of garlic
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
a generous splash apple vinegar
a big dollop honey (1 ½ tbsp)
a bunch of fresh dill
sea salt

*We use mainly Jalapeño peppers, but they can be substituted with serrano peppers, cuaresmeno, fresh cayenne peppers, yellow wax chile, or Fresno chile.

Method:

In a medium saucepan (or a bowl with a lid) first prepare the marinade – add the honey, olive oil and vinegars and whisk, until well mixed. Add roughly grated carrots; press the garlic through a garlic press and add it to the mix. Add the finely chopped dill and adjust the salt to your taste. Mix everything and leave aside.

The peppers need to be roasted briefly at high temperature, so the skin is only partially burnt but the flesh stays intact. Usually in Bulgaria this is made directly on the hot plate, and the peppers stay on each side for just a minute. It can be made in the oven too, at say 200C for like 5-7 minutes but better keep an eye on them to avoid over baking them. We prefer to actually grill the peppers on the barbeque, which is the same process, really, and again, just briefly.

Place your just roasted peppers in the container with the marinade, mix well and cover immediately. Leave them to soften and take the aromas from the sauce for at least 2-3 hours in the fridge. They will be at their best the next day and to remind you once again, if you don’t eat very hot or will be eating the marinade only, the longer hot peppers soak in the marinade, the hotter it will get.

Server chilled with crusty homemade bread.


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