Botanical name: Capsicum annuum L (family: Solanaceae)

chilli

Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC. There is archaeological evidence at sites located in southwestern Ecuador that chili peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago, and is one of the first cultivated crops in the Central and South Americas that is self-pollinating.

Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them (in the Caribbean), and called them “peppers” because they, like black and white pepper of the Piper genus known in Europe, have a spicy hot taste unlike other foodstuffs. Upon their introduction into Europe chilis were grown as botanical curiosities in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries. But the monks experimented with the chilis’ culinary potential and discovered that their pungency offered a substitute for black peppercorns, which at the time were so costly that they were used as legal currency in some countries.

Chilies were cultivated around the globe after Columbus. Diego Álvarez Chanca, a physician on Columbus’ second voyage to the West Indies in 1493, brought the first chili peppers to Spain, and first wrote about their medicinal effects in 1494.

From Mexico, at the time the Spanish colony that controlled commerce with Asia, chili peppers spread rapidly into the Philippines and then to India, China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. They were incorporated into the local cuisines.

An alternate account for the spread of chili peppers is that the Portuguese got the pepper from Spain, and cultivated it in India. The chili pepper figures heavily in the cuisine of the Goan region of India, which was the site of a Portuguese colony (e.g., vindaloo, an Indian interpretation of a Portuguese dish). Chili peppers journeyed from India, through Central Asia and Turkey, to Hungary, where it became the national spice in the form of paprika.

Statistics

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Recipe

Chilli Chicken

chillichickenIngredients:
500-600gms. boneless chicken (cut into1-inch cubes)
2 tbsp Soya sauce
1 egg
2 tbsp corn flour / corn starch
5-6 green chilies (finely chopped)
2 green onion tops (finely chopped), if available
½ tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp garlic paste
Salt To Taste
½ tsp white pepper powder or to taste
1 tsp sugar
A pinch of ajinomoto (optional)
2 cups chicken broth / water
1 tbsp oil
Oil to fry

Method:

  • Take 1tbsp. Soya sauce, 1tbsp. corn flour, salt, ½ tsp Chilli Powder, egg in a bowl and marinate chicken pieces in the the mixture for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Heat oil and deep fry the marinated chicken pieces till golden brown.
    Now in a separate wok / kadhai heat 1 tbsp. oil and add garlic paste and green chilies and sauté for few seconds.
  • Add 2 cups of chicken broth or water. Bring to boil and add sugar, pepper powder, salt , ajinomoto and remaining Soya sauce.
  • Add fried chicken pieces to it and cook for few minutes.
  • Dissolve the remaining corn flour in ½ cup water and add to the curry stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve chilli chicken hot garnished with chopped green onion tops. Goes well with steamed / boiled rice.
Nutritional value

chillivalueRed chilies contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene (provitamin A). Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a considerably lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, and vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in potassium, magnesium, and iron. Their high vitamin C content can also substantially increase the uptake of non-heme iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.