Gourmet Food Source
There are scores of varieties of chillies, from the very mild to the most mind-numbingly hot, with a lot of very interesting ones in between and these are the ones, which I prefer to grow and cook with.
The variety of chilli actually matters a great deal when it comes to following a recipe, a basic knowledge of chilli types is advantageous when a recipe calls for say, four to five large dried chillies. Well what does that mean? To me that would imply that the depth of both flavour and colour is important so a chilli, which has some heat but lots of flavour and enough bright red flesh to give colour, is required. Donít forget that chillies develop heat as they dry and will not taste as mild as they perhaps did in their fresh state so always begin with a little less than you might think.
Birds Eye Chillies
The good news about chillies is that their use is generally confined to their country of origin, by that I mean that the tiny birds-eye chilli of Thailand is seldom used outside of Thai cuisine, as is the case with the Mexican habanero or scotch bonnet. Therefore if you are making a mild Indian curry, for example but only have dried birds-eye chillies you know the amount needed will be significantly less or, if you only have scotch bonnet then just donít bother!
If you are not minded to grow your own chillies then it is worth seeking out a good supplier who can offer you worthwhile alternatives to the tasteless force grown rubbish that is imported to the UK from Holland and South Africa in particular. These types are utterly lacking in taste or character so spend a bit more and get the genuine article.
Click on the links below for information on taste, cooking and growing, wherever possible these varieties have been grown by myself during an English summer.
Content and picture © Miles Collins