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Red Chile Peppers
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This item was last sold on : 10/28/16
Red chile peppers grow on medium-sized, shrub-like plants. They mature from green to a crimson or dark red. The darker the color, typically the stronger the flavor. The peppers are long, and tapered; they grow up to 5 and a half inches in length and are about an inch . Red chile peppers average about 30,000-50,000 Scoville heat units, which is about the same as a cayenne pepper. They have an earthy, grassy flavor once the heat subsides. Red chile peppers also have a slight astringency that is masked when the peppers are dried.
Red chile peppers are available year-round in India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and other Asian countries.
Chile peppers are sometimes called “the universal spice” in India because it is used in almost every recipe. Red chile peppers are scientifically classified as Capsicum annuum and were originally native to South America. The variety of chile peppers most often referred to as “Red chile pepper” in India are Guntur Sannam and Bird’s Eye chiles, the latter of which is a bit spicier than the former. In Hindi, the peppers are called Lal Mirch or (fresh) Hari Mirch.
Red chile peppers contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene. They have all the B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6. The peppers are also high in potassium, magnesium and iron.
Red chile peppers are just as necessary in Indian dishes as the green chile peppers. Fresh, Red chile peppers are cut into pieces, seeds and all, with white wine vinegar and salt, and blended to make a paste. The result is a cross between a paste and a sauce, and it is eaten with roti (flatbread) or paratha (a flakier, layered, fried bread), or other snacks. Another traditional Indian dish is stuffed Red chile pickle. The Red chile pepper is washed, dried, left to sit in the sun for an hour to rid it of all moisture before being split down one side and stuffed entirely with spices. The “pickle” can be stored up to two months, or preserved in mustard oil for even longer. Red chile peppers are used in curries, dals, chutneys and sauces, the spicy peppers are also dried and ground for chile powder. Fresh Red chile peppers can be stored up to two weeks when wrapped loosely in plastic and kept in the refrigerator.
Red chiles are a very big part of Indian cuisine, culture and economy. The city of Guntur, in southern India, is a major center for chile production and a major center for exporting. The city bears a pepper with the same name, the Guntur Sunnam, which accounts for 30% of the country’s exports.
Red chile peppers are native to Central and South America, and parts of the Caribbean. The species was spread to Spain, Portugal and parts of the Mediterranean in the 15th century thanks to the travels of Christopher Columbus. Prior to members of Capsicum annuum were introduced to India, the most widely used spices were black pepper and another spice called ‘pippali’. Pippali was the “long pepper” used to impart spice before Capsicum annuum species arrived by way of the Portuguese, who established a trade port in Goa, on the west coast of India. During the 16th century, both pippali and chiles were used interchangeably, but chiles were more productive and easier to grow. Red chile peppers are most often seen in India and in the surrounding countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia where the peppers are imported. Imports to the United States are sometimes plagued by bans, such as the one in 2015, which was caused by a Mediterranean fly infestation.