Satan's Ashes are comprised of the usual things you might expect in a quality curry powder: Garam Masala, Cumin and so on but also the Dorset Naga chilli (880,000 on the Scoville scale), the Naga Morich (953,721 on the Scoville scale) and the infamous Bhut Jolokia which - at 1,001,304 Scoville units is the world's hottest chilli pepper. To put that into some kind of context, that makes the Bhut Jolokia over 100 times hotter than a Jalapeno, 20 times hotter than a Tobasco pepper and 3 times hotter than a Scotch Bonnet.
In India, Bhut Jolokia is smeared on fences to repel elephants. This noxious, possibly poisonous substance which even elephants have no truck with, was precisely what I intended to put in my mouth and eventually pass out of my arse.
Now before I proceed with a full pictorial account of the entire sorry affair I would like to establish my Scoville-endurance credentials somewhat. I'm no stranger to spicy foods, particularly curry. I don't find a Madras to be particularly spicy, I can handle a Vindaloo without too much difficulty and on one memorable occasion I ate a Chicken Phaal without having to go to the hospital afterwards.
Satan's Ashes are however a different matter...
Here we have the prime ingredient along with some garlic, tomato puree, an onion, some cider vinegar and tomatoes. Also needed are some chicken breasts (not pictured) and an unsuspecting masochist friend (also not pictured). Now let's take a look inside the ashes of Satan himself.
Handle with extreme bloody care. Apparently if you get this stuff in your eyes it melts through to your brain or something. What other prime ingredients are needed though?
Lovely booze. Mmm.
We'll also need:
A masochist friend who will be henceforth known as Stewart (for that is his name). Don't be confused by the wire dangling from his jugular, Stewart is a real person and not some kind of chilli-consuming cyborg from the future. It'd be really cool if he was though.
Now, back in the kitchen I encountered a slight problem as the curry recipe says to add a teaspoon from the small sachet of 'ashes'...
Can you work out which is the 'small' sachet readers? No, neither can I so after a careful process of "eenie, meenie, minie, mo..." I added a teaspoon of the crap in the left-hand bag to some chicken and other stuff.
Mmm...raw. By the way, do you like my fine selection of measuring spoons?
Now fry the onions until golden brown before adding the chicken to sautee for five minutes. Finally, add the tomatoes and cook for a further two minutes. At some point you also bung in the rest of the stuff from the apparently small sachet.
Add water, bring to the boil and chuck in the contents of the large sachet. Now wait around for about 30 minutes while everything simmers.
Now is a good time to have your first beer. If I was in Fable II I might say "A delicious looking pint." Then I'd proceed to say exactly the same thing again about thirty times until I lost the will to live.
Here's the finished product served with a garlic and coriander naan and basmati rice. Note the tray which I nicked from McDonalds. You may at this point wish to assemble your taste-testers and hope that they're a little less disappointing than mine. My girlfriend (not pictured) tried two grains of rice with a little sauce and squealed in pain. My Dad managed one grain of rice with the lightest smear of sauce on it and immediately had to retire for an infusion of milk.
There he is imbibing good old British milk. None of that fancy French milk for him, no siree.
Now it's time to tuck in.
Stewart makes a start, albeit with considerable trepidation...
...and immediately reaches for some liquid refreshment. Make no mistake, this is a killer from the very first bite. Although initially it's possible to taste the sauce which is sweet and a little fruity, this mostly tastes (in Stewart's words) "of pain."
I can't really put it any better than that. Not hot, just bloody painful. The real trick is to get it into your mouth without it touching your lips and to absorb as much of the spice on your tongue before swallowing it. Also: try not to die.
Stewart vanished for his first ice-cube break. He's definitely suffering and I am too, particularly as the beer isn't doing anything to dull the agony. This isn't a dish that builds and builds, it's almost intolerably painful from the get-go and there's no let up no matter how much rice you mix with it, or how much naan you eat between mouthfuls. It's difficult really to relate in pictures what something feels like but maybe this close study of Stewart's face might help:
Doesn't look happy does he?
Neither do I.
Stewart takes his second ice-cube break and as you can see I'm now alternating between milk and beer. Milk works a bit better but when the pain returns it seems twice as bad. Too late I've realised that trying to douse the pain is actually counter-productive.
Dear God, make it stop!
And that's me done. I've eaten the meat and the sauce but I just feel too sick and genuinely frightened to eat the last of the rice. At this point my eyes and nose are streaming and my hearing has partially gone. When something is so spicy that it deafens you, it's time to quit. But wait...
Stewart not only finishes but scrapes the plate too! The entire thing took him twenty minutes to get through and it takes him a further thirty minutes to recover.
Unfortunately it took me a bit longer.
Frankly I was a fool to myself. The way to tackle this curry is head-on. Limit any drinks to a minimum and proceed with cautious speed for that was Stewart's tactic which proved to be more successful than mine.
I won't actually be attempting to repeat the feat due to the savage harm which was inflicted upon my person when the curry made it's way (explosively) out of my ringpiece about six hours later. "As above, so below" and if I thought the pain in my mouth was bad, it was nought but a tickle compared to the shitting broken glass sensation of my burning arse (fortunately not pictured).
I woke up in the wee hours for round 2 of shitpocalypse and almost passed out from the pain in my guts. As yet I haven't heard anything from Stewart although when he left he was complaining about a "Burning bell-end."
The moments leading up to my surrender: