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Forum Thread - Kashmiri chilli powder

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Becs, on 30/4/2008 09:25pm

Does anyone know the difference between Kashmiri chilli powder and just plain chilli powder?


Mamta, on 1/5/2008 06:13am

Kashmiri chilli powder is deep red in colour and it is a little milder than the usual chilli powders you buy from Indian shops. It gives curries a nice, red colour, just like paprika powder. Indian paprika powder is not hot at all, it just gives red colour. Indian chilli powder is quite hot and comes in mild, medium or hot varieties. Names of chillies it is made from are not usually given on chilli powder packets.

Lapis, on 2/5/2008 01:44pm

'Kashmiri chili powder', or 'kashmiri chillies' is a bit of a misnomer. It seems that nearly everyone is recommending them in cookbooks these days, but I have to report that most (if not all) so-calle Kashmiri chilies don't come from Kashmir. The mild red ones are grown in Karnataka and a few other states, and are called Byadgi chillies. They are easily regognisable by their shrivelled appearance. True Kashmiri chillies are quite broad, not very red and of medium pungency. Byadgi chillies (named after a town in the Hubli district of Karnataka, NW of Bangalore) are more pointed, deep red and mildly pungent.

I found even Indian chefs in restaurants in India were misidentifying Byadgi chillies as Kashmiri ones (even a Pandit from Kashmir!!)

Where does this leave the cook of Indian food. Well, just use jars of chilli labeled 'Kashmiri chilies', you now know they are not, but it is probably what the originator of the recipe specified, anyway. At least one supermarket chain is labeling its 'Kashmiri chillies' as really being Byadgi ones!

Mamta, on 2/5/2008 02:29pm

The problem is that no one knows the names of dry chillies or chilli powder sold as a spice. They are known as hot, medium, mild or sweet (paprika). There may be some Extra Hot! So they can called any medium hot chilli as Kashmiri chilli, wherever it is grown. This can get very confusing.

Lapis, I thought that their other name was Degchi chilli, where as Byadgi from the Southern India is quite hot, but I could be wrong.

Where does this leave the cook of Indian food? Use them as mild, medium or hot chillies, as per your taste.

Lapis, on 2/5/2008 04:32pm

Mamta, I thought Degi mirch was like saying paprika in Hindi. Paprika, as you know, is usually made from paprika peppers, similar to bell peppers (sweet peppers, or capsicums) and known in Hindi as simla mirch, I think. Byadgi chillies are reddish, and not very pungent, I bought a bag back with me from Bangalore.

I have some chilli powders known by the varietal name, but as you say, most are not, and open to abuse, I fear. I always grind my own, for this reason. The mixing of very hot chilli powder and paprika in any proportion must be a good one, as chillies and sweet peppers are the same genus, some are even the same species.

However, I would never use habaneros (or any American/Mexican chilli) for Indian food (except tabasco chillies (not the sauce) instead of Kanthari whites, or cayenne (the chilli, not the generic powder) for general use. Mostly I use Thai chillies, which resemble the small green chillies found all over India.

Mamta, on 3/5/2008 06:19am

Hello Lapis

My understanding has always been that the Kashmiri chilli or Degi/Degchi mirch is from Kashmir and similar climates, milder, almost list paprika but with some heat. Byadgi probably comes from southern regions of India. Like most Indians, I tend to use them by their difference in heat, rather than their name, because I am not familiar with names in general. Here are a few interesting sites to read about them;


PS The word Degchi also means 'a kettle' in some parts of India. Aren't languages confusing?

Lapis, on 3/5/2008 01:14pm

I don't believe most 'Kashmiri chillies' come from Kashmir, if you do the sums, you can see that the state of Kashmir (and Jammu, India side) would have to be 6 inches deep in chillies to fulfil the demands from the rest of the world. I believe that somewhere along the way, someone got hold of the byadgi chilli, and started to call it 'Kashmiri'.

Here is a picture of Byadgi chillies I bought in Bangalore:

and some true Kashmiri chillies, bought in Kashmir:

I think the difference is obvious.

By the way, most of the data on the references you site are all from the same source, plagerism gone mad, I'm afraid. I have done my own reasearch and turned up about 300 varieties that are grown, or will be grown in India, though most of these are hybrids to counteract drought and wilt problems. Some old varieties are shown in your references.

Deghi is also the name of the earthenware pot used to get just that perfect flavour for producing biryanis. Yes, language is the spice of life!

Mamta, on 3/5/2008 05:35pm


Becs, on 4/5/2008 05:23am

I only asked as I brought some the other day unaware it was any different. It soon became apparent however that it was a lot milder that the stuff I had been buying, and was a much richer red.

Lapis, on 4/5/2008 01:58pm

all is well Becs, I just thought I would be pedantic for the sake of clarity and correctness. However, I really wonder what I am getting when/if I buy chilli powder, and now I much prefer to 'roll my own'. ;?)

Lapis, on 5/5/2008 01:59pm

Also note than 'chilli' powder is the name given by the Americans to a mixture of chilli powder (cayenne), cumin, and other things, maybe herbs and salt, to throw into 'chilli con carne', usually just called 'chile' by the Yanks. It looks much darker (richer) and is milder than pukka chilli powder. Read the ingredients label.

Danbob, on 13/5/2008 01:39pm

I think Lapis' information is completely accurate. I used to buy (at some cost) my 'Kashmiri Chillies' from Waitrose, until I was informed that these were in fact Byadgi chillies, as the original seem to rarely make it out of their home state, where demand is considerable. The way to tell, is that true 'Kashmiris' are not crinkly in their dry state. I still use Byadgis though (which as standard practice, seem nearly always to be labelled as Kashmiri Chillies) as they colour and flavour well, with a mild heat. To temper dals etc, I generally prefer dried Bird's-eye Chillies as I love their flavour and fiery heat.I also tend to use Kashmiri Chilli powder in preference to the general ones, as again the colour is vibrant and I find the heat levels much easier to vary with the amount of powder used.

Dona Paula, on 25/9/2009 06:52am

I bought a pack the other day and found it deep red in colour. Is this the real colour or artifically coloured with the carcinogenic red dye? I am hesitiating to use the powder and wondering whether I should buy the whole chilly instead

Lapis, on 25/9/2009 06:22pm

I wouldn't worry too much, the safety data sheet just says "Limited evidence that this may act as a carcinogen" is more about covering behinds than actual science, and it is rather vague, is it saying 'beware' or 'don't worry'? Personally I don't think any safety data sheet is worth the paper it might be printed on, but I'm a chemist, and should know about these things, anyway. For a laugh, lok up the safety data sheet for sugar (sucrose) and see what it says for injestion.

If you really want a red colour, try paprika (same family). I use fresh red sweet peppers (and fresh red chillies) when I want a bright red colour, as in traditional rogan josh. One has to macerate the pepper/s in oil to extract the colour, but what a colour.

I would almost always used whole dried chillies, broken into small pieces for a dish that called for chilli powder, but then I use fresh chillies nearly every time.

andy, on 10/2/2010 07:30pm

could someone give me some idea what recipes you use the powder and where could i find them!!

Lapis, on 10/2/2010 07:52pm

Andy, Kashmiri chillies are just a fad. Used (and written about) by people who are following the fad, rather than understand what they are writing about.

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, look out for ones called Byadgi, these are very wrinkled, and red, but not the 'vermillion' colour some think.

Real Kasmiri chillis are a cross between sanam and reshampatti in morphology, and who knows, maybe botanically as well. There is nothing special about real Kasmiri chillies, AFAIK. I think one UK supermarket sell Kashmiri chillies, but even they say they are really Byadgi, and not Kashmiri!

Mamta, on 12/2/2010 07:03am

A thing to remember is that it is relaively recenty that the chill powder packets have started iving the names of the type of chilli in the packet. In most Indian cooking, chilli is chilli, only it is mild, medium or hot. Hardly anyone ues named chillies. So, you can use Kashmiri chilli whenever you need to use chilli powder. How much to use is a very personal taste and choice.

Oregon Lady, on 25/2/2010 03:47am

I found your discussion very interesting. We found some ground Allepo peppers which we enjoy very much. I understand it is a Syrian red pepper. Are you familiar with it and is it similar to the Byadgi chili powder?

seema sharma, on 7/3/2010 11:34am

hello mamtaji

this is seema from india i m big fan of your recepies. i had just tried some recepies from your site and they are excellent please help me to be a good cook my cooking is very bad i m trying hard to improvise it. i dont understand in which curry what spices should be use its a big problem because, whatever i cook it spices will be similar in taste or most are tasteless.please give me some good tips to improvise my email address is [email protected]

thanking you for all your very good recepies

Winton, on 7/3/2010 11:47am

Hi Seema

Mamta's recipes are very specific as to what spices/herbs should be used for each recipe.

Wondering if you are using ground spices that have been hanging around too long? Always best when possible to buy the 'whole' spice and grind on the day of cooking!


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