Chilli, Chile, chili

Chilli pepper is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chilli peppers originated in the Americas.

After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chilli pepper spread across the world, used in both food and medicine. The substances that give chilli peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin and capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is the primary ingredient in the pepper spray used as an irritant weapon. When consumed, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat that are responsible for sensing heat. Once activated by the capsaicinoids, these receptors send a message to the brain that the person has consumed something hot

Red chillies contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene (provitamin A). Yellow and especially green chillies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a considerably lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, and vitamin B6 in particular.

The common species of chilli peppers are:

  • Capsicum annuum : which includes many common varieties such as bell peppers, wax, cayenne, jalapeños, and the chiltepin
  • Capsicum frutescens : which includes the chiles de árbol, malagueta, tabasco and Thai peppers
  • Capsicum chinense : which includes the hottest peppers such as the naga, habanero, Datil and Scotch bonnet
  • Capsicum pubescens : which includes the South American rocoto peppers
  • Capsicum baccatum : which includes the South American aji peppers

Peppers are commonly broken down into three groupings: bell peppers, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. Most popular pepper varieties are seen as falling into one of these categories or as a cross between them.
Chilli is commonly used fresh or dried. In powder form it is called cayenne pepper.

Culinary use:
Chilli can be used in all dishes like chilli con carne, Indian curries, meat dishes, fish dishes, soups, sauces etc.

Medicinal uses :
Capsaicin is a safe and effective topical analgesic agent in the management of arthritis pain, herpes zoster-related pain, diabetic neuropathy, post mastectomy pain, and headaches.

Flavour :
The heat in all chillis, whether hot or mild, is due to the flavourless, odourless, colourless chemical known as capsaicin.

Other names :
Red pepper.
Spanish pepper.

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