Green Chillies and Morphine

I love having green chillies in my food. In my cooking green chillies are added for flavour or just to garnish. Green chillies are very hot and need careful handling. As lovely as they look, they are nasty if you mishandle them. Believe me.

My love and hate story with green chillies started when I was in college. During our summer holidays, my grandmother decided to invite her future daughter in-law’s family to our home for dinner. She prepared a list of traditional dishes and assigned each female person each dish to cook by following a proper recipe.

I was asked to make “Mirchon ka Salan” ( green chili curry). The recipe was simple to follow; spices were ground, tamarind was soaked to extract the juice, and one pounds of long green chillies were soaked in a large stainless steel bowl filled with salt water to take heat out of them. All female personnel got busy preparing their recipes and a tape recorder was playing music to entertain us. I rolled up my sleeves and dug my hands in the pot and began to deseed the chillies. For an hour sitting on a stool , I was plunging my palms in the salted water and taking chillies out one by one, deseeding them and stuffing them with spices. Before starting the final step of cooking, I felt that my hands were burning and were tomato red! I washed my hands with soap, to no avail. I was asked to put oil on my hands to relieve the burning, it burned more. I was given ice in a bowl to cool my hands. The ice melted and the heat in my hands was in full swing. Soon, my whole body was burning, two fans were placed either side of me to cool me down. I could not stay still in one place and started walking, swinging my hands, shaking them to get rid of that heat. Nothing worked. My maternal uncle woke up from his afternoon nap from all the commotion in the house, took a look at my hands and my face, and without saying a word, put his shoes on and left the house. In fifteen minutes he was back, and by that time my grandmother helped me to lay down on a day bed and slowly fanned my hands. With those soothing hands of my grandmother wiping the sweat off my face, I did not feel a needle pinch in my arm or one in my thigh. I woke up to find myself sleeping on a different bed in the courtyard, where we used to sleep during hot summer nights. I looked at the surroundings, every one was sleeping, my hands were normal, no heat, no redness. My mother got up to see if I was okay and asked if I wanted to eat something. The whole family woke up one by one and gave me the aftermath of the MORPHINE . One dose of morphine had given me a 10-hour sleep and comfort from the burning. My chili curry got its final touches by my aunt. I heard later that after dinner, each guest came to my bed while I was sleeping, and said their good-byes and thank you for making such a delicious Mirchon ka Salan!

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