Red chilies of India

Red chilies are the fire that fuels Indian cooking.

Madhur Jaffrey

Lalit Bhatt
Lalit Bhatt

When we talk about chilies , the first thing that comes to mind is how hot it is? Chilies hotness is measured by Scoville heat units (SHU). Scoville heat units (SHU) measure the heat leveler or spiciness of food items. Carolina Reaper is considered to be the hottest chili in the world with peak levels of 2,200,000 SHU. Let’s looks into some of the famous Indian chilies.

The Scoville scale measures the concentration of capsaicin, which is the chemical compound responsible for the heat sensation in peppers. Capsaicin binds to receptors in the mouth and throat, causing a burning sensation. The higher the concentration of capsaicin, the higher the Scoville rating and the spicier the food.

Chilies of India
Chilies of India

Kashmiri Mirch

Kashmiri chilies are known for their vibrant red color and mild heat, making them ideal for dishes where color is crucial, such as tandoori chicken and biryani. It is of very mild variety with SHU level from 100-2000. 

Guntur chili

Guntur chili originated from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. It has SHU level pf 30,000-40,000. Guntur chilies, are one of the spiciest varieties and are commonly used in Andhra cuisine. 

Byadgi Chili

This is another highly popular red chili. Byadgi chilies are known for their deep red color and medium heat, making them popular in South Indian dishes such as sambar and rasam. Byadgi chili are integral part of Udupi cuisines. It has 8,000-15,000 SHU level. They are cultivated primarily in Karnataka. 

Naga & Bhut Jolokia

Bhut in Assamese means ghost. With SHU level at 1 million, this held the Guinness Book of World records before dethroned. Locals use this super hot chili to scare wild elephants from farmlands

There are many other varieties of red chilies but these are the most popular ones across India.

Red chilies in India are not just used in cooking but also have cultural and medicinal significance. In Ayurveda, red chilies are believed to have various health benefits, including improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and boosting metabolism. They are also used in traditional Indian medicine to treat various ailments, including arthritis, respiratory problems, and headaches.

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