there are only a few commonly used species,
there are many cultivars and methods of
preparing chile peppers that have different
common names for culinary use. Green and red
bell peppers, for example, are the same
cultivar of C. annuum, the green ones being
immature. In the same species are the
jalapeño, the chipotle (a smoked jalapeño),
the poblano, ancho (which is a dried
poblano), New Mexico, Anaheim, Serrano, and
other cultivars. Jamaicans, Scotch bonnets,
and habaneros are common varieties of C.
chinense. The species C. frutescens appears
as chiles de arbol, aji, pequin, tabasco,
cayenne, cherry peppers, malagueta and
The substances that gives chile peppers
their heat is capsaicin
several related chemicals, collectively
called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is the
primary ingredient in pepper spray. The
"heat" of chile peppers is measured in
Scoville units. Bell peppers rank at zero
Scoville units, jalapeños at 3,000–6,000
Scoville units, and habaneros at 300,000
Scoville units. The record for the highest
number of Scoville units in a chile pepper
is assigned by the Guinness Book of Records
to the Red Savina Habanero, measuring
577,000 units. However, a recent report was
made of a pepper from India called the Naga
Jolokia measuring at 855,000 Scoville units.
Both the Red Savina and the Naga Jolokia
claims are disputed as to their validity,
and lack independent verification. Pure
capsaicin rates at 16,000,000 Scoville
The fruit is eaten cooked or raw for its
fiery hot flavor which is concentrated along
the top of the pod. The stem end of the pod
has glands which produce the capsaicin,
which then flows down through the pod.
Removing the seeds(citation needed) and
inner membranes is thus effective at
reducing the heat of a pod.
Well-known dishes with a strong chile flavor
are Mexican salsas, Tex-Mex chili con carne,
and Indian vindaloos and other curries.
Chili powder is a spice made of the dried
ground chiles, usually of the Mexican chile
ancho variety, but with small amounts of
cayenne added for heat. Bottled hot sauces
such as Tabasco sauce are made from chiles
such as the cayenne (not, oddly, from
tabasco peppers), which may also be
Indonesian, Indian, Szechuan and Thai
cuisines are particularly associated with
the chile pepper, although the plant was
unknown in Asia until Europeans introduced
Sambal is dipping sauce made from chile
peppers with any other ingredients such as
garlic, onion, shallots, salt, vinegar and
sugar. It is very popular in Indonesia,
Malaysia and Singapore.
peppers are popular in food. They are rich
in vitamin C and are believed to have many
beneficial effects on health. The pain
caused by capsaicin stimulates the brain to
produce endorphins, natural opioids which
act as analgesics and produce a sense of
well-being. Psychologist Paul Rozin suggests
that eating chiles is an example of a
"constrained risk" like riding a roller
coaster, in which extreme sensations like
pain and fear can be enjoyed because we know
they are not actually harmful.
not have the same sensitivity to capsaicin
as mammals, as capsaicin acts on a specific
nerve receptor in mammals, and avian nervous
systems are rather different. Chile peppers
are in fact a favorite food of many birds
living in the chile peppers' natural range.
The flesh of the peppers provides the birds
with a nutritious meal rich in vitamin C. In
return, the seeds of the peppers are
distributed by the birds, as they drop the
seeds while eating the pods or the seeds
pass through the digestive tract unharmed.
This relationship is theorized to have
promoted the evolution of the protective
capsaicin. The chemical used to give an
artificial grape flavoring to food items
such as grape soda does have a similar
effect on birds as capsaicin has on humans.
The three primary spellings used are chile,
chili, and chilli, all of which are
recognized by dictionaries.
- Chile is
the American (uncommon elsewhere) spelling
which refers specifically to this plant
and its fruit. This orthography is
universal in the Spanish-speaking world,
although in some parts the plant and its
fruit are better known as ají.
- Chili is
also quite popular, but its use is
discouraged by some, as this word is more
commonly used to refer to a popular
Southwestern dish (chili is the official
state dish of Texas ), as well as to
the mixture of cumin and other spices
(chili powder) used to flavor it. Chile
powder, on the other hand, is powdered
dried chile peppers.
the original Nahuatl word, is used in
correct spelling according to the Oxford
English Dictionary however, it also lists
chilli as the main spelling, and chile and
chili as variant spellings.
The name of
this plant bears no relation to Chile, the
country, which is named after the Quechua
chin ("cold"), tchili ("snow"), or chilli
("where the land ends"). Chile is one of the
Spanish-speaking countries where chiles are
known as ají.
There is some disagreement about whether it
is proper to use the word "pepper" when
discussing chile peppers because "pepper"
refers to the genus Piper, not Capsicum.
Despite this dispute, English dictionaries
support a sense of pepper referring to
Capsicum, such as the Oxford English
Dictionary (sense 2b of pepper) and
Merriam-Webster . Furthermore, the word
"pepper" is commonly used in the botanical
and culinary fields in the names of
different types of chile peppers.
Red chiles are very rich in vitamin C, and
rich in provitamin A. Yellow and especially
green chiles (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 and high in 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.