Have you ever wondered what makes Indian cuisine so palatable? Besides the medley of flavours, it is the spice factor in Indian dishes that make it unique.
Chillies are the fruit of the Capsicum plant that belongs to the species, Capsicum annum. Though Chilli is native to South America, India is the largest chilli producing country in the world and boasts of eighteen varieties of chillies grown across diverse terrains in the country.
These include Bird's eye chilli (dhani), Byadagi (kaddi and daggi), Ellachipur Sannam- S4, Guntur Sannam-S4, Madhya Pradesh Sannam, Kanthari White, Kashmiri Chilli, Madras Puri, Nagpur, Nalchetti, Hindpur-S7, Jwala, Sattur, Mundu, Tadappally Ramnad Mundu, Sangli Sannam, and Tomato Chilli or Warangal chappatta.
Let’s get started with the most pungent of them all-the Northeastern ‘Bhut jalokia’and Bird's eye chilli (dhani). Both these varieties are counted amongst the hottest and most fiery chillies in the country that will undoubtedly leave you fuming. Bhut Jolokia is grown mainly in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
Andhra’s fiery brigade
Andhra Pradesh’s cuisine is world famous for its spiciness courtesy six types of chillies that come from the region. From being used as a spice in curried dishes and seasonings to being an important ingredient in curry powder, Chillies from Andhra range from mild to highly pungent.
The star attraction is undoubtedly- Guntur Sannam with thick fiery red skin both literally and on the palate. While Warangal Chappatta comes from the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, Nellore is home to the bright red Madras Puri. Both are deep red in hue but mild in flavors and pungency.
The fourth variety Tadappally too is mild on taste and lends subtle spiciness with its thick skin and long body. Used in pickles and curries, Mundu has a yellowish-scarlet red colour and is high on pungency with medium heat. The last from the fiery brigade is Hindpur- red, hot and burning.
Chillies Galore !
Byadagi Chillies, both kaddi and daggi hail from the Haveri district in Karnataka. They are long, wrinkled and have deep red color. Byadagi aren’t very hot but impart a dark colour and aroma to dishes. A favorite with Marathi and Mangalore cuisine, it’s also used for making blended spices and condiments.
While Sattur from Tamil Nadu is fairly pungent and spicy, Kanthari white stands apart from others with its ivory white colour. It is small-sized and medium spicy. In Kerala, these are used as a condiment after soaking in yoghurt and salt, and then sun-dried.
Mahrashtra is home to three highly pungent chilli varieties namely-Nagpur chillies, Nalchetti and Sangli Sannam. Madhya Pradesh’s Madhya Pradesh Sannam and Gujarat’s Jwala are also counted as hot and pungent varieties of chillies.