About half an hour ahead, put the chillies to soak in warm water.
When ready to start cooking, put a large pan of salted water to heat.
Slice open the chillies, scrape out the seeds and cut the flesh across into thin strips. Peel, smash and chop the garlic.
Put the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the garlic and chilli strips. You want to infuse the flavours in the oil, but not brown the garlic too much or you will get a bitter result.
When the water in the pan reaches a fast boil, cook the pasta for 8—10 minutes until just al dente (that is, tender but still retaining residual bite).
Drain in a colander, reserving some of the cooking liquor, and return immediately to the hot pan. (In any case, never drain pasta until all the water has evaporated - it should go back into the pan still with a coating of water as this contributes to the sauce.)
Immediately pour over the hot oil, with the garlic and chillies. Toss to mix and coat the spaghetti. If too dry, add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.
Serve heaped in hot bowls. This dish is so good it is addictive.
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.