A Practical Lesson, Well Learnt

My kitchen taught me something invaluable and what a cruel way to do so.

I cut and sliced some 200gms of Red Chilies last evening and suddenly all hell broke loose. I didn’t think that these chilies were spicy. Though I used kitchen scissors, I slit them first, seeded and sliced them for making chili pickle. I had used these chilies some time back to make chili cheese poppers, but it hadn’t harmed me then.

Little did I know that these weren’t the non-spicy kind. As I was slicing them, the kitchen air started getting a bit pungent. My nose and throat started getting irritated (probably the fumes) and I may have brushed my face, definitely my nose, ears, lips and chin in the process. Maybe the tadka of pickle masala made it worse.

What started as mildly irritating sensation turned into a full-fledged burn, I could feel my fingers throbbing with pain and hot burn. I spent the next few hours with a scrunched up face, irritated (Can-hire-me-as-a-gratis-assasin) mood and nursed my poor fingers. Plunging them in ice-cold water helped, but for a bit only. Once the water returned to room temperature, the burns returned as if they were wedded to my fingers. 😦

My good friend, Google threw some tips and some real friends on Twitter (@me_manishk, @saurabh, @madversity, @petitejanhavi, @ankitrajdesai, @Bsatyaki, @appocalypseBoy, @Kishnani_T) suggested remedies – toothpaste, vanilla ice-cream, milk, aloe vera gel, lacto calamine, rose water, coconut oil and any moisturiser/cream.

Some Remedies

Here’s my verdict and some lessons learnt along the way, I am sharing this here with you in case you run into similar issues at home.

  1. I use toothpaste with clove essence, and I am sure most of us have moved on to Gel-toothpastes. This doesn’t help. Keep a tube of any white toothpaste (Colgate or Babool), apply this first and then wash vigorously with water.
    Tip: @saurabh, a professional event organiser shared this: "So when at events, someone gets a burn from welding or lights, we keep a tube of toothpaste handy."
  2. Ice-cream or cold milk: This seems to work. Though I couldn’t try the ice-cream tip, I consumed a glass of cold milk, this soothed the throat and kind of helped the mood. Eating ice-cream if you have bitten into a chili helps. Capsacain (the active component of chili pepper, an irritant that causes burning sensation in mammals) sticks to the taste buds and throat, so eating any dairy product – preferably yogurt, ice-cream, cold milk, etc. will help you ease the burn.
  3. Coconut oil: This works for ingestion as well as topical application. A small dose of edible coconut oil or olive oil works the same way as dairy product to ease throat burn. Topical application if the burn area is small/defined works when you rub the oil into it. However in my case, I had my entire hands covered almost till my elbows and most part of my face, applying coconut oil didn’t cause any big change.
  4. Aloe Vera Gel: This saved my life. The cool gel could easily slide between the fingers where the burn was the maximum. Applying aloe vera over my face, ears and throat soothed the skin and controlled the burn.

    I didn’t have a chance to find out how Lacto Calamine or rose water worked.

How to stop the Chili burn

In a nutshell, this is what I would recommend in case of a burn while cutting chilies:

Splash lots of water on the agitated (burning) skin, probably a bath would help clean it better. Plunge the area in a bowl filled with ice cubes/cold water. Keep it immersed until you feel the burning sensation subsiding. Drink a glass of cold milk. Apply Aloe vera gel liberally, this helps control the pain too. Reapply if you find that the gel has absorbed into the skin. Rest in a cool room, you need to sleep the pain off.

My podgy fingers and irritated skin took about 8 hours to overcome the burning sensation. Though there is not visible inflammation around my fingers, the fingernail beds still feel sensitive, a little sore too. I am still not feeling 100% well, maybe it is psychosomatic.

My protip: Wear gloves while handling chilies/peppers, irrespective of how hot or not the pepper is.

This should save you all the trouble.

And if you are wondering what caused this tirade, here it is:

This is the culprit who caused me podgy fingers last night, now sitting solemnly in a pickle jar. #redhotchillipeppers #mirchilagi

Red Hot Chilli Peppers



Healthy Eating Needn’t Be Boring.

Avarekai Mela at VV Puram is an events on my list to visit in Bangalore someday. An annual event held by farmers to promote and sell their winter produce, it attracts a lot of people to try the various street food made with the main ingredient, Avarekalu or Avarekai.

Avarekai (Hyacinth beans) (Lablab purpureus) is a bean native to Africa and popular in Vietnam, Australia and Kenya. An annual plant, Lablab beans grow on a vine with thick stems. The fruit (legume pod) is non-fleshy, flat and green and is several centimetres long. The pod contains 4-5 seeds, either green, white and sometimes red in colour. Avarekai is also called as Valpapdi (Gujarat) and Mochai (Tamil).

Avarekai dosa, Avarekai akki roti, Avarekai idli are some must-try street foods if you visit Bangalore during the winters.

Avarekai Dosa

On a recent visit to Bangalore in December, I found my Mom shelling Avarekai or Mochai at home. She prefers to make Mochai Upma, Mochakka Puli Kulambu (a tangy gravy) and Piduku Paruppu Mochai Kurma (Kurma with soaked Mochai beans whose skin are peeled off). This Kurma teamed with Puri, Dosa or Idli is a special delicacy to be enjoyed on lazy Sunday mornings, when breakfast/brunch is an elaborate, long-winded affair. Since my visit to home was a short one that didn’t include a Sunday, she packed the Mochai beans, instructing me to make Puli Kulambu with a medley of veggies – Yam, Brinjal and Garlic, when I reach Mumbai.

On my return, the Refrigerator’s vegetable tray gobbled up the pack of Mochai beans and I totally forgot all about it. I called Mom a fortnight later and she asked me how the Kulambu turned out. Eeeeeks!

Psst…Mochai beans (when shelled) can stay fresh in the fridge, if stored in a dry bag without any moisture. Yes, I learnt this quite accidentally. If you soak the beans and peel the skin off, these beans should be used overnight, even if stored in the fridge, as they turn dark due to oxidation and can turn bitter. This is also something that I learnt incidentally.

However, it was time to welcome the new year and with that it was time for a new keeda. 😉 By that I mean, time to draw up new resolutions. One of my resolutions for this year is thoughtful eating, while I want to eat healthy, by no means do I want to make it all-boring. I was set myself up to explore and try at least 52 new dishes this year.

Avarekai Dosa – seems to be first on my list for the year. I teamed this with Amla chutney and Peanut chutney.

For the Avarekai dosa, you need:

  • Dosa batter
  • Chopped onion – 1 cup
  • Chopped Spring onion – 1/2 cup
  • Grated Ginger – 1 tbsp
  • Chopped Mint/pudina – 1/2 cup
  • Chopped Coriander/dhaniya – 1/2 cup
  • Chopped Green chillies – 1-2 tsp
  • Chopped Tomatoes – 1/2 cup
  • Soaked, deskinned Avarekai beans – 1 1/2 cup
  • Cumin Seeds/jeera – 1/4 tsp
  • Ghee – 2 tbsp
  • Oil
  • Salt


  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp

To prepare the Averakai Masala:

Heat 2 tsp oil in a deep pan. Add cumin and wait for it to sputter a bit. Now add the chopped onion and toss it until it turns pink. Add the grated ginger, spring onion, chopped mint, chopped coriander, green chillies, in that order and toss until the fresh green smell (of the leaves) leaves. (I always wanted to write something silly like this. :))

Now add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and about 1/2 tsp of salt. Toss and cover for 1-2 minutes, finally add the Avarekai beans, turmeric powder, chilli powder and coriander powder. You can skip these, if you have added more spice/green chillies at the beginning. Cover and cook at low flame for 2 minutes, the beans cook very fast in the moisture of the greens and tomatoes added. No water is required. Once you find that the masala has become dry, remove the pan from flame and let it cool a bit.

Warm up the Dosa tawa. Sprinkle a few drops of water to sizzle on the tawa. Pour 1 and 1/2 ladles of Dosa batter, do not spread it thin, spread the Avarekai masala on the dosa as shown. Drizzle a few drops of oil, this is to help the beans roast well when you flip the dosa.

Cook the dosa on the beans side, spread 1 tsp ghee on the brown side and wait for the beans to get roasted well.

When the bean-side looks red/brown, it is time to serve the dosa.

Note: This is my first attempt at making the dosa. The street food version of the same is made with the whole Avarekai beans including the skin. Do not skimp on oil or ghee as this gives a nice crispness to the dosa on both sides. A dollop of butter will make this taste heavenly. If you try this, do let me know.