Chilli Devil's at The New Clarence

Our approach to food

bags of fresh chillies
Different chillies - Indian, Mexican and S.E.Asian varieties

What do we mean by "Chilli"? Is it Chilli? Or Chili (with one "L"), or even Chile?

Many people in the UK still seem to think that "Chilli" means "Chilli-con-Carne", which in turn is seen as a dish of minced beef, cooked with onions and tomatoes, bulked out with red kidney beans and seasoned with cumin and chilli powder. The historical roots of that particular dish may go back to trail hands (& trail cooks) in the southern USA, and the basic scran they had on the cattle trails. The chuck wagon would be loaded with beans, and there was no shortage of beef. It is certainly similar to the dish served by the famous "Chilli Queens" of San Antonio, Texas, in their "Chilli Parlors".

But the term Chilli-con-Carne goes back much further than that. Franciscan friar, Bernardino de SahagĂșn, wrote about chilli stews being eaten in the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, (where Mexico City is now) as long ago as 1529. The Spanish colonisers coined the term chilli-con-carne by combining the Nahuatl word chilli with their own word for meat, but the archaeological evidence is that the indigenous population had been cooking with chillies for time immemorial. Chilli-con-carne is therefore, a relatively new concept - probably contemporary with chilli-con-conquistador...

Chilli at The New Clarence
A bowl of vegan mixed bean & sweet pepper chilli

Conventional wisdom (and archaeological evidence) says chillies have been a part of human diets since about 7,500 BC. The cultivation of chilli peppers can be traced back to north-eastern Mexico at least 6,000 years ago. Some contemporary researchers lean to the idea that chillies did not originate in Central / South America alone though, but that different species developed naturally in several different regions, notably including South East Asia and India. Whoever is right on that one, we do know that the spice trade spread the availability and popularity of the chilli pepper exponentially.

The spread of chilli peppers into different national cuisines has given us a huge range of dishes which derive their flavour, in part at least, from chillies. Chilli is now part of the staple diet for around two thirds of the world's people, who consume around 40 million tonnes of the stuff every year!

Classic beef chilli at The New Clarence
A chunky beef chilli from Chilli Devil's menu at The New Clarence

So what do we mean by "Chilli" at Chilli Devil's? In a nutshell, any dish that has chilli in the ingredients is to us a chilli dish (even if it's called a curry, or paprikash, or locro, or anything else). As an experiment (!) we once cooked one dish from each of 80 different countries, all using chilli in the recipe, in just 40 days. Our normal daily / weekly menu is much shorter, maybe 6 or 8 different dishes from different parts of the world, but it's a constantly changing menu on which the recipes that have proved most popular reappear alongside new variations and specials.

Our mission is not to show you how hot and spicy we can make your food, but show how varied cooking with chilli can be. Sure, if you want it hot, just ask - after all, we also make chilli sauces. At the same time don't be embarrassed to ask for more sour cream; we're cooking for flavour, not to take your face off.

 
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Opening Times

Mon to Weds: 4pm-10pm.
Thurs to Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 12pm-10pm