Chillies are hot, no, literally. There are rumours that they help with weight loss, but how much do we really know about this common ingredient?
Are you a fan of food that bites back? Then you’re no stranger to the regular red chilli commonly sold in the market. You might even know the Thai Bird’ss Eye chilli, commonly used in Thai food. However, chillies are a staple in cuisines all over the world, from the fiery curries of India to the spicy salsas of Mexico. What is it about chillies that makes them so addictive? And why do some people love them while others can’t stand the heat? Let’s explore the world of chillies and delve into the science behind their spicy kick.
Whether you’re a seasoned heat-seeker or someone who’s just starting to explore the world of spicy food, there’s something here for you. So sit back, grab a glass of milk (just in case!), and prepare to spice up your life!
Types of chillies
First, we start with the basics. There are many different types of chillies in the world, each with its unique flavour and level of spiciness. Here is a list of 12 common types of chillies, ranked from spiciest to mildest. Also, the spiciest chilli we know, the Thai Bird’s Eye chilli, is only at number 7.
- Carolina Reaper: This one is seriously hot, like “call the fire department” hot! It’s currently considered the world’s hottest chilli, so unless you’re a serious heat-seeker, you might want to steer clear. This is currently considered the world’s hottest chilli, with an average Scoville rating of 1.5 million.
- Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: Another super-hot chilli that packs a serious punch. You’ll want to be careful with this one! Average Scoville rating of 1.2 million.
- Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia): This chilli has a cool name, but don’t be fooled – it’s seriously hot! If you’re up for a challenge, give it a try. Average Scoville rating of 800,000.
- 7 Pot Douglah: Another super-hot option that’s not for the faint of heart. Scoville rating of around 800,000.
- Habanero: This chilli has a fruity flavour and a good level of heat, making it a popular choice for spicing up dishes. Scoville rating of around 350,000.
- Scotch Bonnet: Similar to the habanero in both flavour and heat level, this Caribbean chilli is a great choice for adding some kick to your food. Scoville rating of around 250,000.
- Thai Bird’s Eye: This small but mighty chilli is a staple in Thai cuisine, and it packs a decent amount of heat. Scoville rating of around 100,000.
- Cayenne Pepper: A popular spice that’s often used to add heat to dishes, this chilli has a good level of spiciness without being too overwhelming. Scoville rating of around 50,000.
- Tabasco Pepper: Made famous by the hot sauce of the same name, this chilli has a decent level of heat that’s great for adding some kick to your food. Scoville rating of around 30,000 to 50,000.
- Serrano Pepper: This Mexican chilli has a good level of heat, making it a great choice for spicing up dishes like salsa or guacamole. Scoville rating of around 10,000 to 23,000.
- Jalapeno Pepper: A mild to medium-hot chilli that’s popular in many different types of cuisine. Scoville rating of around 2,500 to 8,000.
- Anaheim Pepper: This mild, sweet pepper is a great option if you’re looking for some flavour without too much heat. Scoville rating of around 500 to 2,500.
Wondering what the Scoville Rating is? Here’s the down-low:
The Scoville rating is a measure of the spiciness or “heat” of a chilli pepper or other spicy food, founded by Wilbur Scoville. He is the American pharmacist behind the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912. This test measures the amount of capsaicin, the chemical compound responsible for the heat in chillies, in a given sample. The Scoville rating is via Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). The scale starts at 0 for sweet peppers and goes up to 2 million for the hottest chillies in the world, such as the Carolina Reaper. The higher the SHU rating, the spicier the chilli pepper is. Today, this system is used by food manufacturers and spicy food enthusiasts around the world. It measures the heat of various chillies and other spicy foods.
12 of the hottest dishes cooked in Asia:
- Tom Yum (you know this will be at the top of my list, #iykyk): A popular Thai soup that can be made with various meats and seafood, as well as plenty of hot chillies that give it a fiery kick.
- Laab: A spicy meat salad from Laos that typically features ground meat, lime juice, fish sauce, and plenty of hot chillies. I made a vegetarian version, here.
- Vindaloo: A spicy Indian curry that’s made with vinegar, spices, and lots of chillies. It’s not for the faint of heart!
- Mapo Tofu: A Sichuan dish that features tofu and minced meat in a spicy sauce made with doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste) and Sichuan peppercorns.
- Kimchi Jjigae: A Korean stew with kimchi, pork, tofu, and plenty of hot chilli paste.
- Laksa: A spicy Malaysian soup that features noodles, seafood, and a spicy curry broth made with plenty of chillies. Ever wondered how Laksa differs from one region to another? Check this out.
- Nasi Goreng: An Indonesian fried rice dish that often includes shrimp paste, chillies, and other spicy ingredients.
- Phaal Curry: A super-spicy British curry that’s made with a variety of hot chillies, including the infamous Bhut Jolokia.
- Phall: A super-spicy curry that originated in Indian restaurants in the UK. It typically features many chillies and spices, and is not for the faint of heart!
- Green Curry: A spicy Thai curry that’s made with green chillies, coconut milk, and a variety of herbs and spices. Usually, Green Curry is the less of the evils in Thai food, when it comes to food that packs a punch.
- Mala Xiang Guo: A spicy Chinese dish that features a variety of meats and vegetables stir-fried with Sichuan peppercorns and plenty of chillies.
- Tteokbokki: A Korean dish that features chewy rice cakes in a spicy sauce made with gochujang (Korean chilli paste), soy sauce, and sugar.
Chillies and weight loss
There is evidence to suggest that consuming chillies can bring about weight loss.
Capsaicin is the compound that gives chillies their heat, and leads to weight loss. For example, capsaicin may increase metabolism and promote fat burning, as well as reduce appetite and calorie intake.C
Several studies have found that consuming chillies or capsaicin supplements can lead to modest weight loss. However, it’s important to note that these effects are generally small and not a substitute for other weight loss strategies like exercise and a healthy diet.
Additionally, consuming large amounts of chillies or capsaicin supplements can have negative side effects, such as stomach pain and digestive issues. Therefore, it’s important to consume chillies in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Overall, while there is evidence establishing a link between consuming chillies and weight loss. However, it is not a guaranteed weight loss solution and should be approached with caution.
So, what’s the skinny on chillies?
Chillies are an incredible ingredient that has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of people all over the world. From their humble beginnings in South America to their global popularity today, chillies have become an integral part of many different cuisines and cultures. And with a wide variety of different types of chillies available, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a fan of milder peppers like the bell pepper or love the searing heat of the Carolina Reaper.
Whether you’re looking to add a little spice to your cooking or just want to explore the world of spicy food, don’t be afraid to dive in and try something new. Who knows – you might just discover your new favourite ingredient!