It’s hard to believe that this tiny ingredient that is such an intrinsic part of Indian cuisine and has given it its ‘spice bomb’ tag is not of Indian origin. Yes, chillies were introduced to India by the Portuguese way back in the 15th century, but like everything else we have made them our very own. Today we are the largest producer and exporter of chillies in the world – how is that for a red hot fact? Here is a little more scoop on 5 of our most favourite chillies of India.
Native to Karnataka high quality Bydagi chillies are famous for their dark crimson colour more than the spice. If you want to make a paprika powder at home, these are the ones you should use because they are just the right kind of spicy. Grind them coarsely to use as chilli flakes or into fine powder to use as paprika.
Jwala Chillies – grow your own
These fresh green chillies are the most common variety used in India. Living upto the name these chillies are capable of creating quite a fire in your belly – no pun intended! Originally native to Gujarat, these chillies are perfect to grow in a kitchen garden. Also know that there is really no difference between the green and red varieties, the green ones are picked younger while the red ones are left to dry naturally and then picked.
Cut cholesterol with Kanthari Chillies
These are our very own bird’s eye chillies – tiny, fiery and healthy. Yes you heard right – these kanthari chillies come with a bunch of sneaky little benefits to your health. They are full of vitamins and minerals plus an antioxidant that helps reduce cholesterol and increase metabolism. Another really cool characteristic is that they become white when ripe!
Guntur Chillies – weapon of mass destruction
The fiery spice in Andhra cuisine can be attributed to these fabulous spice bombs. You can use these chillies to flavour anything that you want really spicy. Amongst all the varieties of chillies India grows Guntur chillies are highest, both in production and export!
Wall of famer – Bhut Jholakia
It would be unfair to talk about Indian chillies without mentioning one that got us worldwide fame. Also dubbed as the ghost pepper for obvious reasons our very own Indian prodigy remained the world’s hottest pepper for the longest time until it was replaced in 2011. If someone dares you to even nibble at these you should know they don’t have your best interests in mind.
Pro Tip - How to put out a chilli fire!
Downing a glass of water after encountering the spice hit from chillies seems like the most normal response, but it shouldn’t be. Drinking water will not relieve the burning of your mouth because capsaicin (the chemical which makes a mirchia mirchi) is insoluble in water. Chilli fire is best put out by eating something fatty or greasy – sip on milk, dahi, suck on a sugar cube or better reach out for ice cream.
Check this out - what’s hotter than a Ghost pepper?
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.