Chilli Can’t do without it

It takes most of us a moment’s pause to reckon chilli as a spice. Chilli is such an inextricable part of our gourmet tradition that one almost ceases to notice it. Be it the U.S., South America, Europe, the Mediterranean, Far East or Australia, hardly any recipe is complete without a pinch of this one. Apparently, there are over 300 varieties of chilli found across the world. In India, we are most familiar with two types – the green chilli and a fierce dried red. Chilli belongs to the genus capsicum and now one can begin to see the similarities between capsicum and its chilli cousins – be it the curling stalk or the flurry of tiny seeds inside.

In common parlance, a dish is ‘spicy’ if it has too much chilli. Being available all over the world and used everywhere, chilli is christened by different spellings. Chilly and chille are different versions of the same name. An overdose of chilli can leave your tongue burning. While there are those for whom a shadow of chilli is enough, there are others who are not content unless their food is fuming with the spice.

The claim to fame of many cuisines is their chilli content. The Szechwan in Chinese and among Indian, the specialities from Andhra Pradesh are known for the intense presence of chilli. In most dishes, tapering green and red chillies are used raw. The dried red chillies are mostly used as a garnish. Chilli works its way into most cuisines as chilli powder. Along with turmeric and coriander powder, it forms a mandatory trio for most curries. The size of a chilli is meant to be a hint of how hot it is. The thin, tapering, fragile chilli is supposedly the strongest. The fatter the chilli is, the less fierce it is. . . It is said to be rich in vitamins.