Cure Indigestion, Acidity: Health Benefits of Hot Indian Chillies
Did you know that India tops the list of the largest chilli producing nations in the world? Bet you didn’t. And you also probably haven’t looked beyond the local green chillies that your vegetable vendor gets for you. Or are you salivating after the better advertised jalapenos, cayenne and tabasco from South American countries?
We have so many shades of chillies - hot to mild - spread across the country. Here’s a list of four interesting ones you should know about.
1. Parangi Malu from Coorg
In Coorg, I recently sampled a hot (quite literally) local favourite - barbecued pork, dressed with crushed parangi malu and a squeeze of lime. Not for the weak hearted, but absolutely delicious! Clearly the star of this dish was the chilli.
Fun Fact: This spectacularly red and tiny chilli is not planted, it just grows wild, and is used plenty in local cooking. Pandi curry (coorg pork curry) is the most popular dish made with this chilli.
2. Guntur Chilli from Andhra Pradesh
Hyderabad is not just famous for its pearls, but also for chillies. Guntur region is actually the largest chilli growing region in the country and here are many different kinds of Guntur chillis: S10 (not that spicy), 334 (highly spicy), Teja, and the most popular Sannam S4 (the slim super spicy chilli).
Kodi Vepadu, a spicy chicken fry is a common dish made with this chilli, and so is Natu Kodi Kura, an Andhra chicken curry made with coconut, poppy seeds, and of course the Guntur Sannam. And one that I remember having during my last trip to Hyderabad is Chepa Pulusu, a tamarind based fish curry. That was fiery!
Fun Fact: The Guntur chilli is now exported all over the world, and it accounts for roughly 30% of India’s chilli exports. Delhi eats mostly Teja.
3. Biwapur Chilli from Nagpur
This one comes from a very small region called Biwapur. This chilli is loved a lot as it is balanced - spicy but not too much - and has a very nice flavour that does not burn the mouth.
In Saoji cuisine (local cuisine) more Biwapur chilli is used in the non-vegetarian dishes as compared to the vegetarian dishes. In fact the Saoji Chicken curry (a very spicy and flavorful dish from Nagpur) has a cult following in the region, and is supposed to be one of the most fiery dishes around.
Fun Fact: This chilli is not found much outside Nagpur as most of it is consumed there itself!
4. Bhut Jholokia from Assam
The deadliest chilli in all of India, is also called ghost pepper. I know firsthand because when I was in Assam I saw that this chilli is not added directly to the food; it’s mixed with mustard oil, and a bit of salt and just a pinch of that is added to the food. I got some oil back. And I also liked the fiery ghost pepper salsa and pickle that I sampled in Guwahati.
Local people strongly believe that it helps treat rheumatic diseases and osteoporosis. It helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also prevents and helps cure bronchitis and rhinitis by clearing the congestion caused by the mucus that blocks our respiratory system. It is also believed to be a cancer cells scavenger and is famous for its anaesthetic effect and is used as a pain killer for arthritis, muscle strains, migraine, and backaches.
Fun Fact: Chillies are rated by Scoville rating. The normal green chilli that we eat is 10,000 Scoville rating and the Bhut jholakia is 1 million Scoville rating.
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of ‘Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico)‘. Her next book ‘Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa)‘ will be out in September.)
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