With chillies being one of the most popular spices around the world, no doubt you've eaten something with them in at some point, and there's a good chance you use them regularly in cooking. Even if you don't really like spicy food, there's more to their flavour than simple heat, and adding small amounts to a dish can add an entirely new element.
Unfortunately, some people are stubborn in their refusal to eat anything containing chilli, and cooking for them can be difficult when you want to spice things up a bit. A useful alternative is to find ways to put chillies on the table so people can help themselves and add as much or as little as they want to their food. Here are some simple ways to do it after you buy chillies.
Make some chilli salt
There's usually salt on the table for people to add to their food if they want, so putting some chilli into it is a natural way to offer a bit of heat.
Dried chilli flakes work best for this, and there are two ways to do it. If you get the larger salt crystals or flakes, you can grind them together with your chilli using a mortar and pestle. If you have granulated salt, just mix in some chilli and leave it to develop for a few ways.
If you want, you can add extra flavours with dried herbs and spices, creating your own custom mix and experimenting with different combinations.
Chilli salt is great for just about anything, but it works particularly well sprinkled on chips, meat and fish.
Spice up your sauces
Whether you make your own sauces or just buy them, mixing in some chilli is about as simple as it gets when you want table-ready spice.
Stir a teaspoon of crushed chilli into a standard bottle or jar of ketchup, mayonnaise or barbecue sauce and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. Stir or shake it again before using it, and reduce the amount of chilli you add for a milder effect.
Create a spicy vinegar
Shop-bought hot sauce has a distinct vinegar flavour, as it's usually one of the key ingredients. You can create a similar taste by just adding fresh or dried chilli to vinegar and leaving it for a week to infuse, for a healthier, simpler option.
This is great for chips, soups, curries and stews, with the sharp vinegar and hot chilli adding extra dimensions of taste.
Add chilli to oil
Use the same method as you would with vinegar, switching it for some high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
Chilli oil is good for dipping soft bread into, and it's also delicious splashed on top of pasta dishes to give them a warmer flavour.