The first thought that appears in our head, often when we speak about Indian cuisine, is the Indian spices, which is mostly the effect of chillies. India has nearly ten chilly varieties.  Besides adding a flavour to our palates; chillies have other impressive advantages for our wellbeing. They help the digestive system, foster a healthier heart, alleviate joint pain, facilitate weight loss, minimize migraine, reduce the risk of cancer, and avoid allergy and other diseases. 

The Portuguese navigators in the 16th century were known for bringing Chillies, (also known as Mirchi in India), to be carried to Asia. These people came to India and were very popular with Vasco-Da-Gama. Apart from the Indian cuisine chillies are used also in Ayurveda.

India is the largest global exporter of prime red chilli. Research has shown that almost 13.6 million tons of red chilli is produced here last year. The export of Chilli from India constitutes almost 50 percent of the worldwide market for this wonderful spice.

There are a variety of Indian chillies, though some are very strong in heat and can break one into tears, some are less pungent and only popular for their taste and colour. Now let us look at the most common red chillies in India found and developed.

Varieties of Chilli in India

  • Bhut Jolokia: Bhut Jolokia is also known as ‘ghost pepper’ and in 2007 the Guinness book rated it as the world’s hotest chilly. This Chilli pepper is grown in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. Bhut Jolokia is an interspecific (Capsicum Chinese and Capsicum franutescens) hybrid chilli pepper. Bhut jolokia, usually mixed with pork or dried or fermented fish, is used for preparing a meal full of seasoning.
  • Guntur Chilli: Guntur is the largest manufacturer and exporter in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Middle East, South Korea, the United Kingdom, USA and Latin America with the most varieties of Chilli and Chilli powders in India. Guntur Sannamis also grown in Madhya Pradesh, one of the styles of Guntur chilly. All of the spicy dishes which are famous across the globe of this particular region actually belongs to the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. 
  • Kashmiri chillies: This chilli is the most desired after red chilli in India because of its colour, as its name implies. An Indian cooking without Kashmiri mirch powder is incomplete, which brings the colour to every household cook’s mouth-watering dishes. In contrast to the other variants found in India, it is less hot or pungent.
  • Byadagi chilli: It is a well known chilli species, mostly cultivated in Karnataka. It was named for the city of Byadagi in Karnataka district of Haveri. Byadagi chilli is famous for its flavour and pungency.
  • Dhani: Dhani is widely developed in Mizoram and in some parts of Manipur, which is known as Bird’s Eye Chilli because of its form. Though it’s the smallest, it’s really spicy, pungent and bright red chilli that’s popular in the Calcutta markets.
  • Gundu: It is the round fat chilli that is grown in Tamil Nadu in the fertile Ramnad regions. Fat and round means Gundu in Tamil. That’s why the name. Chutneys, sambars and tadcas in the south of India favoured this chilly to add spicy and mouth watering flavour.
  • Jwala: The chili is predominantly cultivated in Kheda, Mehsana and southern Gujarat. It is also called finger hot pepper (FHP). While it is green at the outset, it becomes red as it matures. They can also be cultivated at home. This chili has a rather pungent taste and is conveniently on the shelf during the year.
  • Indo-5 chilli: This is one of the most renowned red chillies in India, popularly known as Indem-5, US-5 and Endo-5 Chilli and is shipped in great amounts around the world. The largest producers of Indo 5 red chilli in India are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The size is longer, the skin is heavier and the heat is comparatively poor. 
  • Warangal Chappata: Short and deep red colour, less slick and moderate taste, Chili Tomato or ChapPata Warangal is very coloured and low heat, which is commonly used in colour extraction.
  • Bhavnagri mirchi: Bhavnagri long chilli plants grow 13cm long and 2cm big hot peppers during good yield. These peppers are very hot and as they mature, transform from green to red. There are green stems, green leaves and white flowers in plant.

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