Take 10 on Chillies- Interesting Facts About Chillies
1. There are more than 300 varieties of chillies of which more than 100 are indigenous to Mexico.
2. Small chillies are hotter because they contain proportionally more seeds and membrane.
3. If the heat gets to you then the answer is a glass of cold milk. Casein, a protein found in milk products, breaks the bond between the pain receptors and the capsaicin.
4. At different stages chillies are correctly called berries, fruits, vegetables and spices.
5. Birds can’t taste the hotness in peppers and the very small peppers known as “bird peppers” are often eaten whole by birds. The bird’s gizzard breaks up the pods and the seeds pass through undigested and surrounded by a nice nitrogenous fertilizer. Mammals on the other hand are discouraged by the extreme hotness of the bird peppers.
6. The chilli is a rich source of vitamin C, even more so than the lemon or orange. Even after cooking it only loses 30 percent of its vitamin C. It is claimed to be effective in protecting against cancer, being a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps to decongest the respiratory system.
7. Red pepper “bombs” have been successfully used in Cameroon’s Waza National Park to stop herds of elephants from straying out of the park.
8. Tabasco is the world’s most famous chilli sauce. It is one of thousands and by no means the hottest.
9. A chilli sweetens as it turns from green to red and becomes milder. Red Thai curry pastes are milder than green ones.
10. Chilli is the most popular spice in the world and psychologist Paul Rozin has suggested that in spite of the fact that it is an irritant to us it is an example of a “constrained risk”, like riding a roller coaster. The hotness makes our body respond with warning signals, but because the situation is not genuinely dangerous we can ignore the meaning.
Chef Nisar Ahmed