Chilli – Interesting Facts

Chillis are not usually eaten raw, but are rather used to season particular dishes. Unsurprisingly, they have a metabolism-stimulating effect; the spice of a chilli stimulates the production of gastric juices, boosts digestion and makes it easier to process fatty foods. The spice also stimulates the circulation of the mucous membranes, heightens your sense of taste, and even releases feel-good endorphins.

Food Facts Food Facts

Chilli

Class

Capsicum

Calories

45 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

9.5g carbohydrate, 1.8g fibre, 0.2g fat, 2.0g protein per 100g

Season

available year-round

Storage

refrigerate in a sealed bag

Shelf life

2 to 3 weeks refrigerated, 10 months frozen

Chilli – Origin and Characteristics

Chillis originate in the mountains between Brazil and Bolivia. Due to animals, the wind and people, the cultivation of chillis has spread all over South and Central America, and almost the entire world. Today, the largest areas of cultivation are Mexico, Thailand, India and Indonesia.

The chilli may have an alluring appearance with its bright red colouring, but take care to only eat it if you have a tolerance for spicy food. Chillis come in all shapes and sizes – green, yellow, white, purple or orange. They all contain a different amount of capsaicin, which is responsible for the spice. If eaten raw, such a high concentration of capsaicin will make your throat and tongue burn. The best option is to cut the chilli into small pieces and mix it together with other ingredients.

Opinions differ when it comes to spicy food – some love it and season almost every dish with chillis, chilli powder, or chilli sauce, while others cannot stand it and dislike the burning sensation on the tongue and in the throat. However, you can train yourself to adjust to spicy food by slowly increasing the spice levels over a long period of time. There are 350 varieties of chilli altogether, and they differ in spice levels, shape and colour. The most common in the kitchen are jalapenos, Thai chilli and habaneros. Habaneros are the spiciest of the three. The spiciest chilli in the world comes from India and is called Bhut Jolokia.

Chilli – The Right Amount of Spice

Fresh chilli can be used as a spice for sauces, rice dishes, stews, salads and of course curries or chili con carne. To prepare, remove the stem of the chilli and cut it into strips. To increase the spice, include all the seeds. To reduce the level of spice, cut the chilli in half and scrape out the white bits and the seeds. Wear gloves while handling chillis, or wash your hands thoroughly after, as a chilli finger in the eye will burn terribly.

Chilli flakes are great for sprinkling over pizza or into sauces and stews. Chilli sauce goes well with meat and fish dishes. If your meal is too spicy, drink milk or add cream to the sauce. Capsaicin is fat-soluble and so milk products help more than water, which makes it worse. Chilli offers an excellent contrast in desserts – try out chocolate with chilli!

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