Chili can easily instill fear even in the bravest of the brave. It is definitely not for feeble-minded people. You must have seen different chili pepper varieties while strolling in the market.
But did you ever stop and wonder, how different are these chilies from each other? Did you ever try to have different types of chilies in your food just for the sake of getting a kick out of experimenting? Know your chilies before you go in the unchartered territory of culinary experience.
Capsicum, known to us as chili pepper, is indigenous to America. It was a serendipity of Christopher Columbus, who misidentified chili as black pepper from India. Thus, the name got stuck to chili and now we call this wonderfully fiery fruit as chili pepper. However, technically it is considered as one of the types of berries.
The fiery or sharp taste is attributed to a chemical component called capsaicin, which stimulates the skin membrane with sensation of 'pain' or 'hotness'. The more capsaicin, the hotter it tastes. A scientist called Wilbur Scoville devised a scale called Scoville Organoleptic Test to measure the amount of capsaicin in chili, rating its sharpness or hotness.
There are many different types of chili peppers available in the market, some grown in your own country, while others have to be imported. Chilies are named after the places they come from. In vegetable markets, you can easily find its vibrant and colorful varieties.
Mostly used in salsa and sauces, serrano is almost a look-alike of jalapeno chili. Usually used in condiment with tomatoes, onions, etc., this chili is quite popular in Mexican cuisine. It's not good for drying due to its fleshy meat.
Though only up to two and half inches in length, it can literally put your tongue on fire. It is mainly preferred by Yucatan people of Mexico for preparing hot sauces and other spicy foods. Habanero is also used in making spicy alcoholic drink.
This Mexican chili is hardly hot and used extensively in Mexican cuisine. The origins of this chili pepper lies in the state of Puebla, Mexico and hence the name. It can be preserved through canning and freezing and used for months.
Some people believe that jalapeno is quite hot. However, that is not the entire truth. The hotness of this chili depends on the preparation of the dish. If you remove the seeds and veins, this chili becomes mild on the tongue.
Long and slender, it is mostly green and red in color. This chili is quite nutritious as it contains vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin etc. Therefore, it's no wonder that this chili is used as a medicinal herb for curing many health issues.
Upon drying, it gets a darkish brown color. When steamed or charred, the skin of this chili peels off and then it can be used in sauces, soups and casseroles after pureeing or chopping. This chili can also be used for stuff.
This chili is believed to have therapeutic properties and consumed as a cure for upset stomach, toothache, etc. Though it's also called Thai chili and used commonly in South-Asian cuisine, the origin of this pungent chili can be traced back to Mexico. The leaves of this chili plant are also used as a vegetable.
Very popular as a garden chili, it is pickled and also used in salsa, salads, sandwiches, etc. It is medium hot in taste. Yellow wax pepper is about 3 to 5 inches long and quite meaty which makes it good for cooking.
They are not considered hot, whereas some of them are even sweet in taste, as they contain little or no capsaicin. Red bell pepper is the sweetest compared to other bell peppers and contains more nutrients too. Green pepper is the least sweet among them. China leads in producing these types of bell peppers and a close second is Mexico.
It is believed to be one million times hotter than the bell peppers which hardly contain any capsaicin. So are you game to try the hottest chili in the world? Well, some poor souls have and for at least 30 minutes, they were completely stricken by pain. Take upon this task, only if your daredevilry and foolhardy nature compels you.
However, it's not good for drying, so it's hardly a preferred choice for chili powders. The flavor of this pepper is quite similar to red bell's with a lot of hotness. Native to South America, this chili is conically shaped and has a glossy skin.
The word "Mirasol" is derived from Spanish language which translates into "looking at the sun". This is a reference to the erect fruit pod which faces the sun. Guajillo is used to make flavorful sauce and chicken dishes.
Similar to aneheim, these chilies are long as well as curved shaped and used in cooking after roasting or drying. Good for stuffed dishes, these chilies have a great aroma when they are uncooked.
However in some parts of the world, the flavor of this chili is quite revered. There are six types of paprika pepper in Hungary. Out of which, tomato pepper is quite sweet. Paprika powder is quite popular in cooking and is often made from many mild peppers.
Another native to Mexico, this chili is widely grown in Tabasco and hence the name. A hot sauce product named Tabasco sauce is also quite famous and is prepared with tabasco peppers along with vinegar and white oak.
Its nutty and citrous-like flavor is responsible for its usage as liquid hot pepper seasoning agent. Pequin plants are suited to grow in any kind of climate, being both heat and drought tolerant.
Now that you are aware of the different peppers, next time you go to the supermarket you can easily pick out the kind of chili you want to use in your cooking.