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Chillies of India

Jan 03, 2019 | 8 Mins

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Ever wondered why Indian food is so flavourful and why every Indian craves for some level of spiciness in their food ?

While India is home to a plethora of spices and herbs, with every community having its own special mix of spices, there are also various types of hot chillies that are grown in the region that add the ultimate zing to regional dishes.

From the Kashmiri Mirch that lends dishes a vibrant red colour to Bhut Jolokia that can shake you up with its spice quotient, there is a lot to explore. Many of these chillies were introduced in India by Arab traders and Portuguese. Most of these chillies are named after the region they are grown in. Check out the various kinds of chillies India is most known for!

As the name suggests, Kashmiri Chillies are originally from Kashmir. These dry red chillies are long in size and impart a beautiful red colour to the dish with spice level kept to a minimal. It is popular throughout India and is commonly used in dishes such as Dum Aloo, Rogan Rogan Josh, etc. They are also easily available in the powdered form used as a marinade for tandoori dishes.

Home chef Jasleen's Kashmiri Dum Aloo. Check out details regarding her meal experience in Goregaon West, Mumbai here

These green chillies are a specialty of Bhavnagar in Gujarat. The best way to enjoy them is by stuffing the chillies with a mixture of cooked dal, spices and chopped peanuts, dipped in a batter of gram flour and fried. These can be had with either fresh mint chutney or a bowl of Dal and Rice.

This is what gives Andhra cuisine the fiery touch. Guntur Sannam chillies hail from Andhra Pradesh and are renowned globally. Guntur is a place in Andhra Pradesh, known for its variety in chillies and chilli powders that are exported to Asia, Canada and Europe. Natu Kodi Kura (spicy Andhra chicken curry) and Mamsam Pulusu (mutton curry) are Andhra dishes that make generous use of the Guntur chilli.

This is not to be confused with the traditional attire of Kerala and TuluNadu region that also goes by the same name! Mundu is yet another kind of chilli grown in Andhra Pradesh and also found in Tamil Nadu where it is known as Ramnad Mundu. They are red, stout and with a very thin skin. They are less spicy in comparison to the Guntur chillies but what Mundu does is it enhances the other flavours in a dish.

Home chef Rumya's Keerai Kootu tempered with Mundu Chillies. Check out details regarding herr Tamil Brahmin meal experience in Worli, Mumbai here

For those who love their food flavoured with a supernova spice quotient, Bhut Jolokia is the way to go. It is commonly found in the Northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam and Manipur and is one of the spiciest chillies in the world. It is known by a variety of names in the Northeast - in Assam, it is known by two names, Tezpur (named after the Assamese city of Tezpur) and Bih Zolokia (Bih = poisonous; Zolokia = Capsicum Pepper). In Manipur, it is known as Umorok (tree chilli) while the Kuki tribe of Manipur and Mizoram know it as Malcha Phoh (the most pungent chilli). It is nicknamed as Naga Chilli in Nagaland, named after the ferocious Naga warrior tribe. Throughout Northeast India, Bhut Jolokia can be used in sprucing up curries, pickles and chutneys. Using it while cooking pork or fermented fish is a local favourite. It is also used in smearing fences to keep elephants away and in smoke bombs for precautions.

Mathania is a small town in Jodhpur that provides a gateway to the Thar Desert. While the heat is unbearable for many, the arid weather proves to be conducive for growing Mathania chillies, named so after the region. The ‘Lal Badshah of Rajasthan’, is fiery hot and lends a rich colour and flavour to the dish it is being used in. Typical Rajasthani dishes such as Laal Maas and Ker Sangri are largely centred around the use of Mathania Chillies. It’s spicy enough to make you tear up within seconds! In Marwari cooking, these chillies are soaked in mustard oil while still fresh and then consumed as a pickle!

Home chef Seema's Rajasthani Laal Maas. Check out details regarding her Rajasthani meal experience in Jaipur, Mumbai here

Byadgi Chillies hail from Karnataka and are named after the town of Byadgi located in Haveri district. In fact, it has been accorded Geographical Indication (GI) in 2011! This particular variety is known for its deep red colour, mildly spicy flavour and are a good substitute in case you run out of Kashmiri Chillies to use. Byadgi chillies be categorized into two types - Dabbi and Kaddi. Dabbi Byadgi Chillies are small, have lots of seeds and are less spicy compared to the Kaddi type. It is also harvested for oleoresin which is used in cosmetic products such as lipstick and nail polish. On the other hand, Kaddi are much longer, with lesser seeds and hot. Byadgi chillies are used in preparing vegetarian dishes such as Bisi Bele Bath and Sambar and seafood dishes such as the Byadgi Fish Curry.

Home chef Shagufta's Byadgi Fish Curry. Check out all details regarding her North Karnataka meal experience in Andheri West, Mumbai here

Consider this to be the small package that causes a big explosion. Dhani is also known as Bird’s Eye Chilli or the African Devil Chilli, grown and commonly found in Ethiopia, Africa. This particular kind of chilli, along with a variety of other ingredients, was introduced in the Southeast countries by the Portuguese. These are today found in Northeast India and used for preparing pickles and chutneys.

These are commonly used for making the red chilli powder sold in the market. Sankeshwari Chillies are named after the place Sankeshwar, situated close to Kolhapur. These are orange in colour and used in coastal cuisines such as Goan Saraswat, Koli and Malvani.

Home chef Nisha's Malvani Chicken Curry flavoured with Sankeshwari chillies. Check out details regarding her Malvani meal experience in Majiwada, Thane here

Reshampatti chillies generally make an appearance in Gujarati food. It’s yet another one of the spicier chilli options but lends just enough flavour without overpowering the entire dish. They are short, conical and of a deep maroon colour. They can be stored for a longer period of time and if you add a rock of asafoetida (hing) in a jar of Reshampatti, the chillies can stay fresh for as long as two years!

There are almost 400 types of chillies in the world out of which 20 are found and grown in India. We all have a preference when it enjoying chillies, may it be in the form of a tempering, pickle or even raw! Let us know in the comments below :)



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