Chilli is a fruit derived from the Capsicum plant family. Most commonly chilli is found in white, pale green or a purple colour. It is often used to enhance the flavour of food most commonly in Asian cuisines such as Indian and Thai Cuisine. Chillies contain a substance known as capsaicin which produces the heat giving us the spicy sensation when we eat chilli. It causes your body to release hormones which give a person an energy rush. This is why some people have a tendency to get addicted to spice.
The spicy sensation varies between chilli varieties. The Scoville scale is used to measure how spicy a particular chilli is. This is influenced by the temperature in which it is grown, hours of sunlight, moisture, soil chemistry and the type and amount of fertilizer used. The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers – or other spicy foods, as reported in Scoville heat units (SHU). The Scoville scale a function of capsaicin concentration.
Scoville scale of chilli pungency
Forms of Chilli
An example is Jalapeno which is usually green when picked and red when ripened.
They can vary from mild to hot depending on the cultivation and preparation.
This is a very common variety in the Australian market. Colours vary from green to red.
Examples include chipotle and cayenne. They are only mildly hot. They need to be soaked in boiling water before using.
Made from dried, crushed chillies and can be used in place of fresh chillies. One chopped fresh chilli is equal to half a teaspoon of chilli flakes.
Made from red chillies and vegetable oil. Two teaspoons of the chilli paste is equal to one chopped fresh chilli.
Made from ground dried chillies and can be used in place of fresh chillis. Half a teaspoon equals one chopped fresh chilli.
Chilli and Health
Chillies are rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, B6 and C.In addition the capsaicin content in chilli may be protective against diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Care has to be taken to avoid excess amount of spice for people with gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux or heart burn.
- Storing in an airtight container.
- Freezing Chilli: Slice or Dice them and store in small packs in the freezer.
- Pickling Chilli: This involves washing them in salty water and then mixing them with cider vinegar and sugar.
- Preserving short term: This involves preserving the peppers in olive oil.
Usage in Food
Spices provide an amazing flavour to food and can be used for a variety of dishes such as salads, stir fries and curries. Most commonly they are used in conjunction with herbs such as coriander, basil and parsley. It is a great option for people looking to add flavour to their food without having to add excessive amount of salt. Chillies are usually used after finely chopping them.
The longer a chilli is cooked, the spicier the dish becomes. In order to get just a slight tinge of the spicy flavour, adding the chilli towards the end of cooking is a better option. Often one does not realise how much spice to add, in the event that the spice produces an excessive burning session, using plain milk or yoghurt can help counteract the spicy sensation.
For more information
This article was written by our Dietitian and Nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney. If you have questions about diet and nutrition, contact us to make an appointment to see one of our dietitians and nutritionists. We‘ll provide you with personalised and effective dietary management. Contact us today!