OLIVE OIL, FOR GREASING
6 EGGS, BEATEN
4 TBSP GREEK YOGURT
1 TSP MIXED SPICE
6 TBSP POLENTA OR CORNMEAL
4 TBSP FINELY GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE, PLUS
EXTRA FOR SPRINKLING
1 TSP RED CHILLI FLAKES
50G CARROT, GRATED
100G FROZEN SWEETCORN
3 SPRING ONIONS, CUT INTO SMALL ROUNDS
100G COURGETTE, CUT INTO SMALL CUBES
150G SWEET POTATO, GRATED
1 TSP BAKING POWDER
SALT AND PEPPER
1 RED CHILLI, THINLY SLICED
1 TSP CHOPPED DILL
PREHEAT the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and grease the sections of a 12-hole muffin tray with oil or line them with paper muffin cases.
PLACE all the ingredients in a large bowl, season generously with salt and pepper and mix together until combined.
POUR the mixture into the prepared muffin holes, then sprinkle the muffins with a little extra Parmesan.
BAKE for 20 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tray immediately to prevent them from going soggy and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
SERVE the muffins warm or cold, sprinkled with extra Parmesan, sliced chillies and dill.
Fact: The world's hottest chilli, the Carolina Reaper, can contain more capsaicin than pepper spray.
Chillies evolved the ability to produce spicy capsaicin as a defence against mammals, to deter them from coming along and scoffing the fruit and destroying the plant’s all-important seeds as they pass through their digestive tracts.
So why do the plants spend all that energy making a fleshy, eye-catching, otherwise tasty fruit? Well, the answer is that in the wild chillies use birds to disperse their seeds. Avian digestive tracts are harmless to chilli seeds, allowing them to pass through unscathed and spread far and wide. You see, capsaicin does not affect birds at all, it’s a selective deterrent that puts off foes but is undetectable to friends. Plants are endlessly fascinating.
This is an edited extract from How to Eat Better by James Wong ($35), published by Hachette Australia.