A Background to Chillies

By Claudette D'Cruz

A Background to Chillies

Background to Chilli

This humble plant from South America has been hybridised to suit many continents. Chillies are the second most significant spice traded in the world (after pepper). Turkey and China are believed to be the world’s largest commercial producers of chilli.

Most Indian curry mixes contain Chillies. To keep our blends mild we use Kashmiri Chillies (pictured in the centre of this spice blend). They are fragrant but less pungent than other varieties like Guntur. They range from 1000 - 200 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) as opposed to Paprika which is 500 SHU and Birds Eye chillies which are between 100,000 to 225,000 SHU.  

Growing Chilli

Chillies are a favourite summer plant because they are easy to grow and perform well in pots. They need free draining soil and are happiest when kept moist. Easily done, simply cover with pea straw or sugarcane mulch. They will reward you well if fed in early spring – try using use Seasol. They last for several years and can be pruned hard after the last crop has been collected late summer to early autumn. If you have any excess, simply chop finely and freeze. Though we are in the middle of winter, it is always good to think ahead when it comes to preparing your veggie garden.

Chilli Jam Recipe 

Alternatively, you can try making this simple chilli jam which is a great accompaniment with anything that needs that piquant element – as a sandwich spread, on pizzas, or to add some oomph to a simple stew.

  1. Soak 500 grams tamarind in 3 cups apple cider vinegar. After half an hour strain and set aside the pulp.
  2. Remove stalks then slice 500 grams green chillies.
  3. Peel 1 large garlic pod (about 20 cloves) and grind together with 40 grams fresh ginger
  4. Heat 4 cups oil then add the above prepared ingredients and 1 tablespoon prepared mustard, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 ½  cups sugar.
  5. Simmer for about 20 minutes till the mixture thickens (like jam)
  6. Bottle when cool.

Try out the recipe above and let us know how you go with it in the kitchen!


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