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Forum Thread - Chillies

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Chris, on 5/2/2020 06:09pm

What are thoughts about using flaked chillies instead of powdered? It seems to me that using flakes packs a hotter punch, if somewhat harsher than powdered & quantities have to be adjusted accordingly. Am I right in thinking that ALL spices grown in different parts of the world can have slightly different properties? And that they will also vary from season to season, including potency? It can get complicated sometimes getting the resulting curry you have in mind! I was wondering if there is some advice on how to choose chillies, or is there some sort of list of chilli varieties & their properties in existence. Sorry if this topic has been covered before - there's a lot of threads to trawl through! Many thanks.

Mamta, on 5/2/2020 09:48pm

Hello Chris

I use flaked chillies often, when I am making sabjies/bhajies (vegetables dishes without sauce or gravy). There is no reason why they can’t be added to curries too, except that they sometimes float on the top and look odd.

Unlike many English friends, who like Indian food to be hot, I never cook it very hot for us. Most Indian people I know, do not eat excessively hot food. We tend to get the heat from hot pickles on the side or by adding a teaspoon of hot ghee with chillies added onto our dals.

You are right about different properties of different varieties of the same spice. This is especially true of chillies. When buying chillies from an Indian grocer, you can get extra hot chilli powder, medium hot chilli powder or Kashmiri chilli powder for milder heat. For colour, buy sweet paprika, which has no heat at all. In India, chillies are rarely known by their name. People work it out from their shape, size and texture.

Hope this answers your questions?

Mamta

Helen Bach, on 6/2/2020 08:38pm

I did a lot of research some time ago into chillies of India. At that time (maybe 14 years ago!) I found that there were about 300 varieties of chilli pepper grown in India. About 30 cash crop varieties, and the rest were 'experimental'. Of course, as the country's agriculture becomes more stable and production needs increase, new varieties will be developed, which are resistant to pests and drought, for example. However, of the 30 varieties grown for consistent production, about 75% are of the variety called Sannam. These are about 50 -60mm long, about 10mm wide and straight down one side, bent down the other. Historically, they were grown in the region of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. It has medium heat. Other chillies exported from India (dried) include Mundu, which is round (or now more strawberry shaped) and has good pungency. And the third chilli is reshampati. These are quite large and broad, and less pungent. None are very pungent, that description must go to the so-called Naga chillies, which were developed by the Indian Army, for whatever reason!

The Sannam, Mundu and Reshampatti were probably the first three chilli varieties exported from South America/Mexico by the Portuguese (Mundo is Portuguese for world, ie round). From Sannam and Reshampati came the true/real Kashmiri chilli, and not the crinkly shriveled offerings of many purveyors of Indian spice (those are from Byadgi in Karnataka).

Finally, the potency of chillies will appear on the Scoville scale, the higher the number, the hotter the chilli. But as you alluded to, the heat level will also depend on where it was grown, and its growth history.

Personally, I like to use fresh chillies, you know what you are getting!

Mamta, on 7/2/2020 05:33am

Thank you Helen, very interesting. Your knowledge of Indian spices and food always amazes me :).

Chris, spurred on by Helens excellent reply above, I did dome google search and found the varieties grown in the region, northern province or Uttaranchal, where I come from. Chillies are still sold and bought by average person there, by their colour, size and how full they are of seeds. Small and tightly packed ones are usually hotter, larger, hollower ones are less so. When I visit a vegetable market in northern India, Uttaranchal (northern province), chillies are still sold in piles of different shapes, rather than by names. Even here in UK, I buy them this way, have never seen them sold by names.

Here is a list I found of some chillies grown there, though it doesn't help average buyer for everyday use. I just found it interesting:

1 Andhra Pradesh Jwala, X-235, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, G-5, LCA-205, 206, 235, Karakulu, Sannalu, Dippayerupu, Punasa, Maduru, Pottibudaga, Hybrid, Bharat, Aparna, Pottikayalu, Cullakayalu, Barak, Mota, Chapta, Desi, Sindu, Kiran, Chikkaballapur (Lavangi), Sapota.

2 Karnataka Jwala, Bayadgi, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, G-5, PusaJwala

3 Kerala Jwala, Sadabahar, Champa, CO-1, Nandan, K-1

4 Pondicherry K-1, K-2, CO-1, CO-2

5 Tamil Nadu K-1, K-2, CO-1, CO-2, CO-3, PMK-1, PMK-2, Borma, Wonder, Sannam, Palam

6 Bihar Rori, MotiMirchi, Chittee

7 Haryana NP-46-A, PusaJwala, Pusa Summer

8 Himachal Pradesh Solan Yellow, Hot Portugal, Pachad Yellow, Sweet, Banana, Hungarian Wax, Punjab Lal

9 Jammu and Kashmir NP-46-A, Ratna Red, California Wonder

10 Punjab CH-1, Sanauri

11 Uttar Pradesh NP-46, Jwala Pant C-1, Desh, Pahadi, Kalyanpur, Chaman and Chanchal.

12 Assam NP64-Am PusaJwala, Surya Mukhi, Krishna, Balijuri

13 Tripura Jwala, Suryamukhi, Krisha, Balijwai

14 West Bengal Siti and Suti, Akashi, Kajari, Bow, Dhani, Bullet, Dhala.

15 Goa Cacana, harmal, Tanvati, Lavangi

16 Gujarat K-2, Pant C-1, Jawahar-218, NP-46-A, Jwala.

17 Rajasthan CH-1, NP-46-A, Jwala, Pant C-1, G-3, G-5

18 Madhya Pradesh PusaJwala, Sona-21, Jawahar, Sadabahar, Agni.

19 Maharashtra Pathori, Bugayati, Dhobri, Black seed, Chaski, Bhiwapuri

20 Orissa Jwala, Deshi, Sadabahar.

Mamta

Mamta, on 7/2/2020 11:32am

Sorry, forgot to give credit/link to website for above list and now I can’t find it ?!

Helen Bach, on 7/2/2020 02:31pm

on a cooking note, the heat in chillies comes from a group of substances known as capsaicins. They are more oil soluble than water soluble, and so, if your dish starts in oil, then add the chillies near the start of cooking, that will extract the heat from the chillies/flakes. If you add chillies later, when the dish has a watery base, little heat will be extracted. However, as with other spices, make sure you turn down the heat so that the chilli does not burn.

I have found that if using these ingredients, first fry the onions, then after a suitable time (10 to 15 minutes on medium heat), add fresh root ginger, then garlic. Then add the chillies (if dried) at the end of the oil stage, just before adding spices. A little water will bring the temperature down if things get a little like chemical warfare! If using fresh chillies, add between the ginger and garlic. What you are aiming at is to extract flavour and heat substances from the ingredients with oil before adding any water-based ingredients.

HTH

Mamta, on 8/2/2020 03:43pm

Helen, it is always lovely to hear from you about science behind various cooking practices. Isn’t it interesting that our ancestors had worked all this out without scientific knowledge, simply from experience of generations?

Most of traditional Indian recipes add chillies, especially whole chillies, to hot ghee/oil, as a ‘tarka’. For adding to dals and curries, chillies and other spices are generally added to either hot ghee/oil or to fried, hot onions/tomatoes.

Mamta

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