Chili

Dried whole chili

Chili is a widely used spice around the world, making appearances in all the most popular cuisines. Although they have a pleasant flavor, it is also the heat that makes them sought after. The green variety are harvested at just thre months old, when unripe. Chili that is harvested for drying is usually fully ripened and shade of red. This spice is available ground, flaked, or dried whole, and is also commonly used in spice blends.

Flavor

The flavor of chili will vary depending on the variety and where they are grown. In general, the spice offers a pungent spicy heat that comes from the capsaicin compound. Chilis also have a fruity, citrusy undertone. The spice’s heat will vary dramatically depending on the type, from mild through to dangerously hot. The dried chili has roughly twice the heat that is provided by a fresh one.

Pairs with

Proteins

  • white fish
  • tofu
  • beef
  • chicken
  • pork
  • hamburgers

Vegetables

  • tomatoes
  • peas
  • corn
  • potatoes
  • cauliflower
  • kale

Spices

  • cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic
  • cinnamon
  • cilantro seeds
  • allspice

Spice blends: chaat masala, tagine blends, spicy rubs, curry, taco seasoning, harissa paste.

Culinary uses

Chili can be used is a wide range of recipes from virtually every cuisine. It provides flavor and heat to Asian stir-fries, and combines well with ginger and garlic in this cuisine.

Mexican cooking uses the spice in various sauces, and it commonly added to popular food like tacos and burritos.

Chili flakes add a restrained punch of heat to pasta, gazpacho, curries, and more.

The use of chili does not have to be limited to savory food. The subtle addition of powdered chili to chocolate or ice cream adds a delicious warming element. Other desserts like cheese cake are also suitable for this spice.

How much? The amount used will vary depending on the variety and personal taste preferences. As a general guide, use a half teaspoon of chili in vegetables, rice, and desserts. For a pound of meat, increase the quantity to one teaspoon.

Substitutes

To replace chili in a recipe use cumin, paprika, or cayenne. The replacements won’t perfectly mimic the flavor, but they won’t taste out of place in most recipes. Keep in mind that cayenne powder is usually much hotter, so adjust accordingly. Use one teaspoon of ground chili to replace one whole chili.

Storage

Store chili in an airtight container or jar in a dark, dry place for up to two years.

Quick Facts

NameDescription
FamilySolanaceae
Flavor compoundCapsaicin, capsaicinoids, ester combinations, furfural, hexanal, limonene
Botanical nameCapsicum annuum
Parts usedPods and seeds
Other namesChilli, chilly, aji, piri piri, ginnie pepper
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