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waaza

chilli varieties for specific uses

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In books on Indian cuisine and forums, where chillies are used, it is more usual not to mention which type of chilli is recommended. Is this because it really doesn't matter? or the originator hasn't given it much thought?

So, do you use specific varieties, and if so which ones? or do you use just whatever you can get hold of. I am particularly interested in uses in the Indian sub-continent rather than the US, but would welcome input from all over.

I understand that the nams of the varieties is going to be a problem depending on where you are, but I'll have to sort that one out. :laugh:

Thanks

cheers

Waaza

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I lived in Delhi for several years with my in-laws, go back to India for about a month each year, and have also spent time in Hyderabad and Udaipur. A lot of that time was spent cooking with local people. If it helps, my in-laws are Punjabi.

There was only one single occasion where there was any discussion about what type of chilles were going to be used. This was at a party in Delhi where the guy was basically showing off while his parents were away, and had cooked an (inedible) dish containing the hottest chillis he could find. I don't know the name, but they were smooth, round, small, and red. I've seen a lot of chillis in my time, but these were not ones that seem to be all that commonly available.

I don't even known where he got hold of those chillis. I've only ever seen one variety available in the markets in India. Again, I don't know the name - it's the medium length, thin, bright green one that I simply think of as the generic Indian chilli. This is the one where they give you a handful free together with a free bunch coriander whenever you buy veg.

I've also spent quite a bit of time cooking with people while outside of India. Mostly people from Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, and again Hyderabad. Also people from Pakistan (Punjab again). Again, none of them made any distinction about the type of chilli.

The dried (South Indian?) chillis that one can buy whole and are stuffed with spices are clearly a different type of chilli. However, I have never seen them for sale fresh in India in the places where I've been.

Hope this helps,

Anzu

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I lived in Delhi for several years with my in-laws, go back to India for about a month each year, and have also spent time in Hyderabad and Udaipur. A lot of that time was spent cooking with local people. If it helps, my in-laws are Punjabi.

snip

..... I've only ever seen one variety available in the markets in India. Again, I don't know the name - it's the medium length, thin, bright green one that I simply think of as the generic Indian chilli. This is the one where they give you a handful free together with a free bunch coriander whenever you buy veg.

snip

Hope this helps,

Anzu

yes, a great help. Is the 'generic chilli' you talk of about 30-50 mm long, and 5mm diameter, and is quite hot and sour? I think its a cayenne type, the exact designation is difficult to guess, as they cross pollinate so easily, and are being developed all the time to combat disease, it would seem. Some only have code numbers, like X235 and NP46A.

Thanks again for your input, I might ask you some more questions, if you don't mind.

cheers

Waaza :biggrin:

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Is the 'generic chilli' you talk of about 30-50 mm long, and 5mm diameter

Actually, no. I know the type you are referring to and in fact have some at home right now. They were bought, just to confuse the issue, at a grocery store that imports all its produce from Pakistan, and Indian and Pakistan customers are quite happy to buy them.

However, the ones I'm referring to are on average about 7-8 cm long, though they can range from, say, 5-12 cm in length. They are, very approximately, 1 cm in width.

As far as heat goes, they vary considerably, like so many chillis do. I usually check their heat before adding them to a dish (as in, cut chilli, touch finger to cut end, touch finger to tongue), so as to be sure it won't be bland or won't blow my head off (unless that's what I'm aiming for).

Sour? I never thought so. But maybe that's just me. (or just you?!)

And yes, as far as I know, the chillis in India cross-pollinate like mad. Occasionally one buys capsicum/green bell pepper/ Simla mirch or whatever else you want to call it, and they have, it would seem, been grown next to hot chillis and have cross-pollinated. Hot enough to make my hands sting after cutting them up (hot chillis I usually handle from the stem end while cutting them, so not an issue in their case). But it's also a rare enough event that I get caught by surprise every time it happens.

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Indians tend to use the generic, small, greener variety of chillies available for most recipes. From time to time the small red Thai chillies are also used.

Some recipes call for Kashmiri Chillies which are dried red chillies ranging from an inch to two inches in length. Kashmiri Chilly powder is also readily available in most Indian stores. They are usually soaked and then ground to a paste for use.

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Is the 'generic chilli' you talk of about 30-50 mm long, and 5mm diameter

Actually, no. I know the type you are referring to and in fact have some at home right now. They were bought, just to confuse the issue, at a grocery store that imports all its produce from Pakistan, and Indian and Pakistan customers are quite happy to buy them.

However, the ones I'm referring to are on average about 7-8 cm long, though they can range from, say, 5-12 cm in length. They are, very approximately, 1 cm in width.

then that would be sannam variety, I think. It seems there are only four main types of chilli, sannam, as you describe, mundu, the small round kind, birdseye and 'wrinkled', sometimes called byadgi, which has little or no heat. For me, the fabled 'Kashmiri chilli' apparently has achieved mythical status, and although nearly everyone seems to sell 'Kashmiri chilli powder', the state of K&J would have to be 6 feet deep in chillies to supply the apparent demand (a little licence taken with the actual amounts, but you get the point!) :raz:

As far as heat goes, they vary considerably, like so many chillis do. I usually check their heat before adding them to a dish (as in, cut chilli, touch finger to cut end, touch finger to tongue), so as to be sure it won't be bland or won't blow my head off (unless that's what I'm aiming for).

and vary from one end to the other, and sometimes one side from the other, life is never that simple, is it?

Sour? I never thought so. But maybe that's just me. (or just you?!)

I think of the red chilli as a little sweet, so, by contrast........ :unsure:

thanks again for the input ansu

cheers

Waaza :smile:

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