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R For Red Chili - The Fierce Spice

Perhaps there is no other spice that is most unanimously recognized for its fiery hot effects on taste and touch than the dried red spice I am going to talk about today. It is none of other than Red Chilies.

R For Red Chili
R For Red Chili - Vibhu & Me
Today, it is unimaginable to think of India cuisine without chili. Although chili is not a native spice of India, it is one of the mandatory spices in every Indian kitchen. The strong red color of this spice adds a beautiful tint to the food while its taste can make a dish spicy and truly very spicy. Red chili belongs to the family of Capsicum Annuum. It is obtained from a little plant. The variants of this only plant provide us red peppers, cayenne, paprika and bell pepper and our today’s spice, the chilies. Red chilies are basically the ripe form of green chilies that many people prefer over the former considering the later comparatively less pungent and hot.

All of us know red chilies as a strong spice that makes our food even spicier and tasty particularly the curry. However, only a few of us are aware of its use as a natural color producer. Also, like all chilies, red chilies are a very good source of vitamin C. However, red chilies are also scientifically researched and proven for being a life ender for human beings. Eating red chilies requires much caution as its high use may cause problems in the stomach.

In India, red chilies also come in different varieties which are separated by the sharpness of color and flavor of this flaming fruit. For example, deep red color red chilies grown near Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal region of India are called Kashmiri red chilies. These chilies are mostly used for adding color to a dish as enough quantity of this chili does not make food too spicy to eat. On the other hand, kanthari-white chilies grown in south India are just ivory reddish in color through their little quantity can make the food highly pungent. Other popular variants grown in India are Jwala chilies, Guntur Chillies and Dhani chilies. India is even world’s largest producer and exporter of chili, exporting to USA, Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and many countries across the world. 

History of Red Chili
Naga Jolokia (Credit : Google Image search)
The origin of chilies is believed to be as old as 7000 B.C. in Mexico. Mexicans used it to spice up their food. And Chili was brought to the rest of the world by Christopher Columbus. He called it pepper initially as he was in search of another hot and treasured spice black pepper. That is how the chili got the name ‘chile pepper.’ Columbus then took chile back to Spain where it became a very famous spice. As per the data released by Indian board of spices, red chilies evolved from South America from where these were distributed to most other tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It was around the 15th century when chilies were introduced in India by the Portuguese', though its wide acceptance as powerful spice made it grown natively in many parts of the today including India. Do you know that the world’s hottest chili is "Naga Jolokia" and it is cultivated in the hilly terrain of Assam in a small town Tezpur, India!

Ayurvedic Benefits of Red Chili
Despite being widely labeled as a red-hot fiery and dangerous spice, red chilies also have medicinal benefits for us which are recognized in Ayurveda too. As a home remedy, red chilies help in curing joint pain, cholera, sore throat and certain types of pains. Some Ayurvedic pain relief ointments contain red chilies also. Although, many of the Ayurvedic texts prefer green chili and suggest avoiding red chili. According to a few Ayurvedic books, red chili seeds contain some chemicals which may have adverse effects on male fertility.

Dadi Maa Ka Nuskha
Take a very little bit of freshly powdered red chilies carefully added with a spoon full of honey for the treatment of a sore throat. Although dadi’s have also used dried whole red chilies to cast off evil eye  (literally called Nazar Utarna).

How to buy
You can easily find red chilies at a retail store near you. Being an important part of Indian food as a spice, red chilies are found at every food store that sells spices. You just need to be careful to keep it packed as mere its touch might cause burning to the skin.    
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